Tim Bray writes about his rediscovery of Rex Stout’s books:

These books are awfully damn good

…the characters are all really interesting people, sparkling conversationalists, and the great thing about the novels is that you get to spend a few hundred pages with these smart, aggressive, sharp-talking, fascinating people.

Most of Rex Stout’s books feature eccentric, overweight private detective Nero Wolfe and his faithful sidekick Archie Goodwin. I own practically all of them, as well as some lesser-known books featuring other detectives, like Theodolinda “Dol” Bonner, who also appears a couple of times in the Wolfe books. I also have most of Robert Goldborough’s continuations of the Wolfe canon, as well as William S. Baring-Gould’s “Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street: The Life and Times of America’s Largest Private Detective”.

Read Tim’s post for more details, including a rare photo of Rex Stout and a (probably inaccurate) sketch he made of Wolfe’s office, which I believe is from Baring-Gould’s book. There are other sketches available.

Here’s a review of the first Nero Wolfe book, Fer-de-lance. It contains my favorite Wolfe quote, which I’ve adopted as my own motto:

…when a District Attorney commands his presence in Westchester, he tells Archie to refuse, saying “I understand the technique of eccentricity; it would be futile for a man to labor at establishing a reputation for oddity if he were ready at the slightest provocation to revert to normal action.”

No article about Nero Wolfe can be complete without a reference to noted SF author Philip José Farmer‘s elucidation of the complete family tree of the so-called Wold Newton families; according to Farmer, Nero Wolfe, whose original name was John Hamish Adler, was a secret child of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler. Wolfe’s brother Marko Vuczik (originally Scott Adler) was the father of Archie Goodwin; Archie is revealed also to be a cousin of Travis McGee on his mother’s side. Other famous members of the Wold Newton families are Tarzan (Lord Greystoke), Angus McGyver, and Lara Croft.