Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-fifth Street

Up to this point in my blog, I have not published a post on Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, my favorite fictional detectives, although I have mentioned that Rex Stout is my favorite mystery author.

In 1969, William S. Baring-Gould published Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-fifth Street: The Life and Times of America's Largest Private Detective, a fictional biography of Rex Stout's detective character Nero Wolfe.

A few years ago, I purchased a paperback copy of this book at a used book store. I just read it this week. (I may have owned it years ago, and even read it. Who knows? A lot of Rex Stout books have been owned and passed on to other readers over the years.)

It was fun to read. There was a lot of minutiae that I really don't care about, although it was interesting to see the many discrepancies between various books in the series (although that happens with most series of this length). I enjoyed more the overview of all the cases up to the point that the book was published. I once read the biography of Rex Stout by John McAleer (Rex Stout: A Biography). Every novel and novella was listed there, and when he wrote it, and where it was first published. I stopped when I got to each of them, so that I could read them before the mention of the next one. It was the first time I had read them in order published. That book had 532 pages. This one is much shorter, a mere 177 pages.

I was surprised to read the chapters with  Baring-Gould's theories about how Wolfe might be the illegitimate son of Sherlock Holmes, Wolfe and Marko Vukcic might be brothers, and Archie could be Wolfe's nephew.

I also have a book of commentary on the Nero Wolfe series called At Wolfe's Door, by J. Kenneth Van Dover. To this point I have used it mainly as a reference when checking out my memory on one of the books in the series, but it has several chapters at the end that could be interesting, one comparing Nero Wolfe and Perry Mason. And it has plot synopses, character lists, etc. for other mysteries by Stout that did not feature Nero Wolfe.

The Wolfe Pack website devoted to Nero Wolfe has a list of these and other reference sources: "Biographies of Rex Stout/Commentaries on Nero Wolfe".

This counts as one of my books for the following challenges:
Mt. TBR Challenge
Read Your Own Books Challenge

A-Z Challenge

Spring Reading Challenge

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