Title: Archie Meets Nero Wolfe
Author: Robert Goldsborough
Genre: 1930s crime fiction
Setting: NYC 1930s
My grandma collected mysteries. Most of them were by Agatha Christie, but once I had read all of those, there was another sizable chunk by this author, Rex Stout. Their covers were different, often featuring a woman in distress on the cover, but they sounded interesting. I don’t remember which book I started with, but I wound up reading them too.
This one is what is called fan fiction today – a tribute by author Robert Goldsborough. It’s an imagining of the first time Archie Goodwin, smart ass and tough guy, meets the cerebral genius of Nero Wolfe. In the first book by Stout, Fer-de-Lance, the two are already working together. But how did it all start? When and why did Archie come to New York? And why are the police always so willing to give him a hard time?
I really liked this one. Not only did he get the setting right – early Depression era, jobs are scarce, society very stratified – but the characters are less defined versions of themselves. Which is exactly right, I think. Wolfe is still himself, with his fascination with orchids, his profoundly sedentary lifestyle, his gourmet taste. Even his office looks the same. And Archie is a much younger and less experienced version of himself, but it’s apparent what he will become.
I’m giving this one a solid 4 stars and a recommendation. However, if you haven’t already read a Rex Stout book, you might not enjoy it as much as I did, so start by reading Fer-de-Lance and then see if you like the style.