Nero Wolfe

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nero Wolfe is a character from Rex Stout . He is a New York private detective . The Nero Wolfe stories are always written from the perspective of Wolfe's assistant Archie Goodwin as the first-person narrator. A literary prize for crime literature has been named after the novel's protagonist since 1979, the Nero Wolfe Award .

After Rex Stout's death, more novels were written by Robert Goldsborough .

Nero Wolfes detective agency

At 140 kg (or 125 in some works), Nero Wolfe is an overweight private investigator of Montenegrin origin who lives in a brick house on 35th Street in New York. He specializes in murder cases, which he solves mainly from his desk for gigantic fees. He almost never leaves his house and maintains contact with the outside world through his collaborator Archie Goodwin. He has got used to the eccentric lifestyle (strict working hours, no business discussions during dinner, misogynists, etc.) of his boss. Professionally, Wolfe gets in the way of the New York Homicide Squad, especially Inspector Cramer and Sergeant Purley Stebbins . He is passionate about growing orchids , good food, literature and beer . Nero Wolfe doesn't like women, especially when they break out in hysterics in his office. Even so, he always has female clients.

Compose yourself, Archie. Why taunt me? Why upbraid me? I am merely a genius, not a god.
(Hold yourself together, Archie. Why are you mocking me? Why are you blaming me? I'm just a genius, not a god!)
Nero Wolfe in The Lance Snake ( 1934 , the first Wolfe novel).

When Wolfe live Archie Goodwin , his secretary, accountant, office boy and Jester and Fritz Brenner , a Swiss chef who provides exquisite meals if Wolfe did not dine in the restaurant "Rusterman's". The old gardener Theodore Horstman , who is responsible for the well-being of the orchids, works in the house. However, this does not live in the house.

Nero Wolfe's freelancers include private detectives Saul Panzer , Fred Durkin , Orrie Cather and Johnny Keems . In several cases he also employs the private detective Theodolinda (Dol) Bonner and her assistant Sally Colt. Saul Panzer is the best of them all, and Archie Goodwin is occasionally snubbed by Nero Wolfe giving Saul Panzer an interesting assignment and feeding him off with routine matters himself.

In PH does not answer , the employee Johnny Keems is killed during his research. Orrie Cather gets into a mess in Leiche on the best of terms .

More figures

Although Nero Wolfe knows and uses all legal subtleties, he falls back on the lawyer Nathaniel Parker when an official legal representative has to act.

When Nero Wolfe is involved with the New York Homicide Squad , it usually looks like Inspector Cramer goes to Wolfe's office and has an argument in the red leather armchair in his office. He then regularly has a cigar in his mouth, which he does not smoke, but just chews on.

Archie Goodwin, on the other hand, is regularly summoned by the police or arrested as an important witness or suspect. Archie Goodwin's counterpart in the active investigation is usually Sergeant Purley Stebbins .

At times, Lieutenant George Rowcliffe appears on the homicide squad . In contrast to Cramer and Stebbins, who often quarrel with Wolfe, but recognize his abilities, Lt. Rowcliffe both Wolfe and Archie Goodwin and seeks to get both of them to jail on several occasions. Rowcliffe uses the cliché of the stupid, primitive police officer in Stout's novels.

Typical for almost all Nero Wolfe cases is the resolution of the cases in the form of a staged meeting of all suspects and detectives in Wolfe's office, during which the perpetrator is exposed in the form of a long closing argument. A simple report to the police would run counter to the (fee-worthy) nimbus of the ingenious Nero Wolfe.

Archie Goodwin's long-time friend Lily Rowan , a wealthy heiress, first appears in The Red Bull . In most of the later novels she appears as a minor character.

The noble restaurant Rusterman's is run by Wolfes compatriot and friend Marko Vukcic . William S. Barring-Gould claims that Marco is Wolfe's brother. But this is highly controversial among Wolfe fans. After Vukcic's murder in Nero Wolfe, Montenegro , Wolfe initially managed Rusterman's as a trustee.

Lon Cohen is an editor (later editor-in-chief) at the daily Gazette . He is a friend of Archie Goodwin's and plays poker with him once a week and exchanges information with him that will help Wolfe with his research and, in return, will give Lon exclusive reports.

In three novels, Nero Wolfe has to deal with the crime boss Arnold Zeck , who at times feels disturbed by Nero Wolfe's research. In The Second Confession , he shoots Wolfes greenhouse after the latter defied his threats, but later compensates him for the damage. In Even the Best of Families , Zeck is hunted down by Wolfe and Goodwin.

Another feature of the series is the fact that the protagonists do not get older (the first Wolfe novel was published in 1934, the last one in 1974), although the environment, i.e. mostly New York City, is always adapted to the time of writing.

And then there are ...

  • Lewis Hewitt , a millionaire friend and also an orchid grower who appears or is mentioned in several Nero Wolfe novels.
  • Avery Ballou , a banker who found himself in an embarrassing situation in the best of circumstances , and who can give Nero Wolfe important information in The Sins of the Fathers .
  • Jill Hardy , stewardess , is Orrie Cather's future wife.

The work

The stories talk about food very often, because Stout is also obsessed with shopping, choosing ingredients and preparing meals.

Stout's strengths are his amusing and witty dialogues and the legal tricks of Wolfe. The suspects always get a little psychological profile and thus appear lifelike. Many consider the development of the plot to be a weakness, which occasionally gets lost in lengthy details such as routine questioning or unsuccessful investigations (e.g. in Nero Wolfe in Montenegro ), as well as the motives for murder, which are often not explained at all (e.g. in the lance queue ) or are very implausible.

In meeting point dead end z. For example, a respectable citizen only becomes a murderer because someone has started false rumors, in Gambit a respected citizen kills a stranger in cold blood to put the husband of a woman behind bars whom he admires but who does not return his feelings at all . He then commits another murder so that the victim does not suspect him of his beloved!


The novels in German translation are currently almost exclusively available in antiquarian versions. E - books have been published roughly every six months since 2017 .

Nero Wolfe novels by Rex Stout (chronological)

  • The lance snake ( Fer-de-Lance , 1934, a. Point of Death , a. Meet Nero Wolfe ) - the first Nero Wolfe novel
  • The League of scary men ( The League of Frightened Men , 1935)
  • Die Gummibande ( The Rubber Band , 1936, a. To Kill Again )
  • The Red Box ( The Red Box , 1937, a. Case of the Red Box )
  • Too Many Cooks ( Too Many Cooks , 1938)
  • The Red Bull ( Some Buried Caesar , 1939, a. The Red Bull ) - Archie Goodwin makes the acquaintance of Lily Rowan
  • Over my dead body ( Over My Dead Body , 1940) - Nero Wolfe adopted daughter from Europe
  • Mark Wilde Rose ( Where There's a Will , 1940)
  • Murder in the Waldorf-Astoria ( The Silent Speaker , 1946)
  • Too many women ( Too Many Women , 1947)
  • Riots in the studio ( And Be a Villain , 1948, a. More Deaths Than One ) - Arnold Zeck for the first
  • The second confession ( The Second Confession , 1949) - Arnold Zeck the Second
  • Even in the best families ( In the Best Families , 1950, a. Even in the Best Families ) - Arnold Zeck for the third
  • Orchids for Sixteen Girls ( Murder by the Book , 1951)
  • Guest on the third floor ( Prisoner's Base , 1952; Out Goes She (GB) 1953)
  • The Golden Spiders ( The Golden Spiders , 1953)
  • Nero Wolfe in Montenegro ( The Black Mountain , 1954) - Wolfe's adopted daughter and best friend die
  • Before midnight ( Before Midnight , 1955)
  • PH doesn't respond ( Might as Well Be Dead , 1956) - Johnny Keems is murdered
  • Appearances are deceptive ( If Death Ever Slept , 1957)
  • The Champagne Party ( Champagne for One , 1958)
  • Plagiarism ( Plot It Yourself , 1959, a. Murder in Style )
  • Too many clients ( Too Many Clients , 1960)
  • First, it turns out differently ... ( The Final Deduction , 1961)
  • Gambit ( Gambit , 1962)
  • The Great Question Mark ( The Mother Hunt , 1963)
  • When light falls into the dark ( A Right to Die , 1964)
  • Per address Mörder X ( The Doorbell Rang , 1965) - German new translation 2017: The doorbell rang
  • Corpse in good proportion ( Death of a Doxy , 1966)
  • The Sins of the Fathers ( The Father Hunt , 1968)
  • Bloody Blueberries ( Death of a Dude , 1969)
  • Everyone's Bomb ( Please Pass the Guilt , 1973)
  • Deadly Cigars ( A Family Affair , 1975) - Orrie Cather dies

Nero Wolfe novels by Robert Goldsborough

  • Murder in E minor -Goldmann- / Allegro mordioso -Scherz / Fischer- ( Murder in E minor, 1986)
  • Per advertisement: Mord -Goldmann- / A close race for Nero Wolfe -Scherz / Fischer- ( Death on Deadline, 1987)
  • Bloody Ivy -Goldmann- ( The Bloodied Ivy, 1988)
  • Nero Wolfe and the gross gentleman -Joke / Fischer- ( The last Coincidence, 1989)
  • Nero Wolfe: To advertise means to die - joke / Fischer- ( Fade to Black, 1990)
  • ( Silver Spire, 1992)
  • ( The Missing Chapter, 1994)
  • ( Archie Meets Nero Wolfe, 2012) - Prequel to the series
  • ( Murder in the Ball Park, 2014)
  • ( Archie in the Crosshairs, 2015)
  • ( Stop the Presses !, 2016)
  • ( Murder, Stage Left, 2017)
  • ( The Battered Badge, 2018)
  • ( Death of an Art Collector, 2019)
  • ( Archie Goes Home, 2020) - announced for May 2020

Short stories (anthologies)

Not all English anthologies have been taken over; there are numerous other compilations and individual publications.

  • Black Orchids , 1942 (2 stories, German: Black Orchids)
  • Not Quite Dead Enough , 1944 (2 stories, German: The explosive pineapple)
  • Trouble in Triplicate , 1949 (3 stories)
  • Three Doors to Death , 1950 (3 stories)
  • Curtains for Three , 1951 (3 stories)
  • Triple Jeopardy , 1952 (3 stories)
  • Three Men Out , 1954 (3 stories, German: The talking pencils / Last Supper with Nero Wolfe)
  • Three Witnesses , 1956 (3 stories)
  • Three for the Chair , 1957 (3 stories)
  • And Four to Go , 1958, loc. Crime and Again (GB) (4 stories)
  • Three at Wolfe's Door , 1960 (3 stories, German: Gift à la Carte)
  • Homicide Trinity , 1962 (3 stories)
  • Trio for Blunt Instruments , 1964 (3 stories: murders now - pay later)
  • Corsage: A Bouquet of Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe , 1977 (1 story: Bitter End , 1940, and articles by and about Rex Stout)
  • Death Times Three , 1985 (3 stories that do not belong to the actual Nero Wolfe canon because they are alternative versions and therefore do not appear in other anthologies: Bitter End , 1940, is a revision of the Tecumseh-Fox- Romans Bad for Business , 1940 / Assault on a Brownstone is the original version of Counterfeiter's Knife , 1961 / Frame-Up for Murder , 1958, is an extension of Murder Is No Joke , 1957)

Movies and TV series with Nero Wolfe

Further reading on Nero Wolfe

  • OE McBride: A Guide Through Nero Wolfe's World . Universe, 2003
  • William S. Baring-Gould: Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street . 1969, German as Nero Wolfe - 35th Street West, New York City , Ullstein 1972 ( ISBN 3-548-02861-6 )

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. cf. William S. Barring-Gould: Nero Wolfe of West Thirtyfifth Street, 1969, German 1972, page. P. 87 ff.