Monday, August 4, 2008

{Review} Nero Wolfe: The Archie Goodwin Files by Marvin Kaye (editor)

When a few days ago I reviewed The Nero Wolfe Files, I was rather uncomplimentary regarding the limited amount of content and the quality of the content itself. Well, I am very pleased to report that in this subsequent book editor Marvin Kaye has rectified these shortcomings quite nicely. The new book is twice the size of the other and contains a much better selection of articles from The Gazette, the official publication of The Wolfe Pack, a society dedicated to exploring the nuances of that remarkable detective, his sidekick Archie and the author Rex Stout.

The book is composed of four sections. The first is a collection of articles about both the character himself and associated subjects, such as the Post Office, love and marriage, legal aspects of the Wolfe plots, orchids, and even references to the theatre in the stories. My favorite article in this section is "Nero Wolfe: Logomachizer", which discusses the roles of books in the Wolfe stories [editor Kaye notes that Logomachize means to contend with words].

The next section contains articles about Archie Goodwin, including rather obvious subjects as Archie's love life, his relationship to Nero, and not so obviously, an investigation to discern Goodwin's likely birthdate.

The third section's collection includes exploration into the actual location of Wolfe's brownstone, the role of Lon Cohen in the stories, the secretaries (good and bad), and the possible origin of Wolfe's nemesis Zeck.

The final section contains three short detective stories, a stage play and a sonnet, all featuring Nero and company. The story "Firecrackers" is a special treat as we finally read about the first meeting of Nero and Archie.

With such excellent content I happily recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Nero Wolfe, or even in the detective genre in general. Fair warning however, the book does contain many spoilers, but then people who get this book will most likely have already read most of the stories anyway!

Link to LibraryThing entry for this book

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