Posts Tagged With: Wolfe Discussion

Man Alive and Archie’s Age

Another Wolfe List post that I thought I would archive here.

While rereading Man Alive today, I noticed that another hint about Archie’s age shows up in this one.

Page numbers taken from Three Doors To Death – the Bantam Reissue Edition paperback first published March 1995, 8th printing.


First clue is on page 38 where Wolfe is talking to Cynthia and telling her he wants the folks that have keys to the business there in his office that evening.  She replies as follows:

 “But good lord.”  She was flabbergasted.  “I can’t just order them around!  What can I say?  I can’t say I want them to help find out who killed my uncle because they don’t know it was my uncle?  You must consider they’re much older than I am – all but Bernard – and they think I’m just a fresh kid.  Even Bernard is seven years older.  After all, I’m only twenty-one – that is I will be – my God!”

And she goes on to say that her birthday is the next day.

The next clue is on page 41 where Archie is in Bernard Daumery’s office just after being introduced to Bernard.

Cynthia’s statistics had informed me that he was four years younger than me, and I might as well concede them to him.

So Cynthia is 21, Bernard is 7 years older than her, or 28, and 4 years younger than Archie, which would put Archie at 32.  Unless the ever literal Archie is figuring her age at 20 due to her birthday being the next day which would put him at 31. 

To link this to my previous post about Archie’s age, I noticed that “Man Alive” was written in 1947 and “In The Best Families” was written in 1950.  So if he was 31 or 32 in MA then he would be “about” 34 in ITBF.

Though I do agree that Stout has Archie’s age pegged at somewhere around 30 throughout the corpus, I find it interesting that he kept the time-line consistent through these two stories.

Categories: General - Non-Wolfe/Stout | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A couple of points about “In the Best Families”

The following is a post I just made to the Wolfe Mailing List and thought it would be good to archive here.

Hello All,

Even though I know that today (8/23/09) we are supposed to start (not) discussing “Man Alive” from “Three Doors to Death “, I thought I would post this about the book we just finished (not) discussing. 🙂

Just reread In the Best Families and noted a couple of points that I thought were interesting. I seem to remember at least some of this coming up in discussion before but a quick search in my very limited email archives didn’t show anything so thought I would post this.

The copy I read this time was the Bantam paperback 8th printing printed in Sept 1984, and that’s what the page numbers I am giving are based on.


The first bit I noted was on the first page of the first chapter and is related to Archie’s salary. The person Archie is talking about is Mrs. Barry Rackham, who has called and wants to see Wolfe on business. The relevant text is as follows:

On the main point of interest, could she and did she pay her bills, the news was favorable: she was worth a good four million and maybe five. Calling it four, and assuming that Wolfe’s bill for services rendered would come to only half of it, that would be enough to pay my current salary – as Wolfe’s secretary, trusted assistant and official gnat – for a hundred and sixty-seven years; and in addition to that, living as I did there in Wolfe’s house, I also got food and shelter. So I was fixed for life if it turned out that she needed two million buck’s worth of detective work.

So in a round about way he tells us how much he makes a year. 2 million divided by 167 is $11976.05 if we round up and $11976.04 if rounding down. From that I am assuming he means he makes $12,000.00 a year which breaks down to an even $1,000.00 a month but if taken even further and divided by weeks is not quite so even and comes to $230.77 a week. Any way you figure it, in 1950 dollars that is a nice little pay check.

I used the Consumer Price Index based financial calculator at to do a bit of figuring on what he would be bringing in today. According to the site the following is how they do the calculation.

The CPI for 1950 = 24.1
The CPI for 2009 = 213.2

And they use the following formula to compute the calculation:
2009 Price = 1950 Price x (2009 CPI / 1950 CPI)

So that means his weekly pay now would be $2041.50 = $230.77 x (213.2/24.1)

Which would put his yearly salary at $106,157.68. Not bad for a gum shoe! And that’s NOT figuring in room and board which in New York City would be a hefty sum!


The second bit that jumped out at me this time through the book is that Archie tells his age! Or at least comes as close as any time “I” remember in the Corpus. On page 17 Leeds is talking about the folks they will meet at the Mrs. Rackham’s house, and says:

“You and me,” he said, “and my cousin and her husband, and Mrs. Frey, whom you have met, and Hammond, and the statesman, that’s seven-”
“Who’s the statesman?”
“Oliver A. Pierce.”
“I’m intimate with lots of statesmen, but I never heard of him.”
“Don’t let him know it.” Leeds chuckled. “It’s true that at thirty-four he has only got as far as state assemblyman, but the war made a gap for him the same as for other young men. Give him a chance. One will be enough.”

Then on page 19 Archie tells us:

Pierce was a smooth article. His manner was, of course, based on the law of nature regulating the attitude of an elected person toward everybody old enough to vote, but his timing and variations were so good that it was hard to recognize it, although he was only about my age.

And goes on with Pierce’s description, but the above was the part that interested me. Archie is telling us that he is about 34 years old. Now the first book in the series, Fer-de-Lance, was written in 1933 and this one, In the Best Families, was written in 1950, which gives us 17 year’s between them. Extrapolating from the above statements that he is 34, he would have been 17 when the first story came out and would have been born in 1916, neither of which fit in with other bits from elsewhere in the corpus. So either he is not telling the truth about his age (Not that Archie would EVER prevaricate!) or as has been discussed in far greater depth than I am prepared to go into here, Stout changed their ages to suit his self as the series progressed. As I said just a point I found interesting.

All in all a very good read and I quite enjoyed rereading it.

Comments, corrections, and discussion welcomed.

AKA Albert Freyer

Categories: In The Best Families, ITBF Discussion | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Books on Rex Stout and the Corpus

A few days ago I asked for input as follows:

What reference books or materials do you, the Wolfe list members, have and/or have read and can recommend as being worth the purchase, concerning Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe?

So far I have gotten the following wonderful information:

From Jonathan Levine

At Wolfe’s Door by Ken Van Dover
The Brownstone House of Nero Wolfe by Ken Darby
Stout Fellow by O.E. McBride
Nero Wolfe of West 35th St. by William S.Baring-Gould
Rex Stout by David Anderson
John McAleer’s biography of Mr. Stout

Jerome Berin

From Linda Ciani we have:

The Nero Wolfe Companion books by the Rev. Frederick G. Gotwald are very interesting. The problem — they are very difficult to find!

To which Jonathan replies:

That they are. But they are not reference books about NW, they are books that explain references to things in the books. They also have many mistakes.


And last but certainly not least from Phil Fischer comes this exhaustive list:

Here is an update of Bettina Silber’s “Collecting Nero Wolfe ‘Companion’ Books Oct 20, 2002.

“An Informal Interview With Rex Stout” Michael Bourne, James A. Rock & Co., 1998 (audio cassette).

“An Interview With Rex Stout” In “P. S. Magazine” August, 1966.

“Archie Goodwin’s New York City Walkabout”, by Rev Frederick G. Gotwald, Salisbury, NC, 1999.

“At Wolfe’s Door: The Nero Wolfe Novels of Rex Stout” by J. Kenneth Van Dover James A. Rock & Company, Rockville Maryland, 1991/2003

“Brownstone House of Nero Wolfe, The: As Told By Archie Goodwin” by Ken Darby. Little, Brown and Company, 1983

“Corsage, a Bouquet of Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe. Michael Bourne editor, James A Rock & Co. publisher, 1977.

“Detectionary” by Mill Roseman, Otto Penzler, Chris Steinbrunner, Marvin Lachman The Overlook Press, Woodstock, New York, 1977.

“Fer-De-Lance A Nero Wolfe Mystery” by Rex Stout, Farrar & Rinehart, Inc, New York, 1934 Facsimile Edition 1996. Basis for the text and dust jacket is a copy owned by Otto Penzler

“Great Detectives: Seven Original Investigations” by Julian Symons Harry N. Abrams, 1981

“Murder Ink: The Mystery Reader’s Companion”, Perpetrated by Dilys Winn. Workman Publishing Co. Inc. New York, 1977

“Mystery Readers Walking Guide: New York” by Alzina Stone DalePassport Books, NTC Publishing Group, Lincolnwood, Illinois. 1993.

“Nero Wolfe Companion” by Rev. Frederick G. Gotwald ( 10 volumes )

“Nero Wolfe Handbook” by Rev. Frederick G. Gotwald

“Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-fifth Street: The Life and Times of America’s Largest Private Detective” by William S. Baring-Gould. Viking Press, 1969.

“Nero Wolfe Saga”, by Guy Townsend, in “The Mystery Fancier” magazines May 1977 / June 1980

“Private Lives Of Private Eyes: Spies, Crime Fighters, and Other Good Guys” by Otto Penzler. Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1977.

“Queen’s Counsel”, Conversations with Ruth Stout on her brother Rex Stout, 1987 by John McAleer.

“Rex Stout” by David R. Anderson , F. Ungar, New York, 1984

“Rex Stout, An Annotated Primary and Secondary Bibliography” by Townsend, McAleer, Sapp & Schemer, Garland Publishing.

“Rex Stout – a Biography” by John McAleer. Little, Brown and Company, 1977.

“Rex Stout, Name-dropper”, by Rev Frederick G. Gotwald, Salisbury, NC, self-published.

“Royal Decree: Conversations with Rex Stout”, by John McAleer, Pontes Press, Aston, MD 1983

“Stout: A Majesty’s Life”, John McAleer, Millennial Edition J.A. Rock, Rockville, Maryland

“Stout Fellow: A Guide Through Nero Wolfe’s World”, by O.E. McBride iUniverse, Inc., 2003

“Alias Nero Wolfe” in “The Easy Chair” column by Bernard DeVoto, Harper’s Magazine, July 1954

“Some Notes Relating To A Preliminary Investigation Into The Paternity Of Nero Wolfe” John D. Clark, The Baker Street Journal, Vol. VI, No.l, New Series, Jan 1956

“The Nero Wolfe Files” Selection from the Wolfe-Pack Gazette edited by Marvin Kaye. Wildside Press 2005.

Bettina Silber

Phil Fischer

J. Parker

Aug 2005

So it looks like I have a lot of hunting as well as reading to do.

Thank folks, this is some really great information!

Additions, Corrections, Comments requested.

Categories: Wolfe Discussion | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Books In Which Wolfe Leaves/Doesn’t Leave Brownstone

This great list is by our own Inspector Cramer AKA Dot Moran. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Dot can be reach via email at:

I have completed rereading and listing the times that NW leaves the
brownstone, and doesn’t. My lists cover 74 novels/short stories numbered as per Dan Augustine’s (thanks Dan) August 1998 revised chronology.

Here are the results:

Nero Wolfe leaves the brownstone: 35 times
Nero Wolfe does NOT leave the Brownstone: 39 times
For a total of 74 stories/books

Surprised?? I was.

Inspector Cramer
aka Dot Moran

Stories where Nero Wolfe leaves the brownstone

# (position of story in chronology) – Title (of story)

Reason for leaving and/or where he went

2 – League of Frightened Men

Kidnapped, sort of, by a certain taxi driver

4 – The Red Box

To investigate murder at Boyden McNair, Inc

5 – Too Many Cooks

To address chefs on American Cuisine in WV

6 – Some Buried Caesar

To attend show upstate to display orchids

8 – Where There’s a Will

To the Hawthorne residence on 67th St in a taxi

10 – Black Orchids

To view the much coveted black orchids

12 – Not Quite Dead Enough

To exercise with Fritz- and- 10th precinct to get AG

13 – Booby Trap

To meet with Col Ryder of MilitaryIntelligence

16 – The Silent Speaker

To Centre St police headquarters to report to Ash

23 – Door to Death

To hire Andy Krasicki to replace Theodore temp.

24 – The Second Confession

To the Sperling household upstate

25 – Cop Killer

To his barber shop, get a haircut, close the case

28 – In the Best Families

To GET Zeck

29 – Squirt & The Monkey

Well, technically, down the stoop to talk to Cramer

30 – Murder By The Book

To have dinner with Marko at Rusterman’s

32 – This Won’t Kill You

To a baseball game with Pierre Mondor & Archie

33 – Prisoner’s Base

Once again to the 10th precinct to get Archie

34 – Invitation to Murder

To the Lewent house 2 miles from the Brownstone

39 – The Black Mountain

To hunt down Marko’s murderer in Montenegro

40 – The Next Witness

To testify in court (he didn’t)

41 – Immune to Murder

To prepare & serve his famous brook trout dish

42 – Before Midnight

To LBA to search for cyanide with the ‘teers

44 – Too Many Detectives

To testify in Albany re wire-tapping

46 – The Christmas Party

To play Santa and spy on Archie

49 – 4th of July Picnic

To make a speech at picnic for URWA for Felix

53 – Poison a la Carte

Attended the “10 for Aristology” doomed dinner

54 – Method Three for Murder

Tough one:Technically, yes, to the threshold/stoop

58 – Plot it Yourself

To meet with the NAAD committee et al

59 – The Rodeo Murder

To dine on blue grouse at Lily’s apartment

63 – The Final Deduction

With AG to Doc Vollmer’s to stall being questioned

66 – The Mother Hunt

To escape Cramer before NW could name the killer

69 – The Doorbell Rang

To Hewitt on LI to ‘cook’ up a scheme

71 – The Father Hunt

Not business: to view & ‘talk’ orchids with Hewitt

72 – Death of a Dude

To Montana to help Archie solve a murder

74 – A Family Affair

From Rusterman’s to see Pierre Duco’s father

Stories where Nero Wolfe does NOT leave the brownstone

1 – Fer-de-Lance
3 – The Rubber Band
7 – Over My Dead Body
9 – Bitter End
11 – Cordially Invited to Meet Death
14 – Help Wanted, Male
15 – Instead of Evidence
17 – Before I Die
18 – Too Many Women
19 – Man Alive
20 – Bullet for One
21 – And Be a Villian
22 – Omit Flowers
26 – The Gun With Wings
27 – Disguise for Murder
31 – Home to Roost
35 – The Zero Clue
36 – The Golden Spiders
37 – When a Man Murders
38 – Die Like a Dog
43 – A Window for Death
45 – Might As Well Be Dead
47 – Easter Parade
48 – If Death Ever Slept
50 – Frame-up For Murder
51 – Murder is No Joke
52 – Champagne for One
55 – Eeny Meeny Murder Mo
56 – Assault on a Brownstone
57 – Counterfeit for Murder
60 – Death of a Demon
61 – Too Many Clients
62 – Kill Now — Pay Later
64 – Murder is Corny
65 – Gambit
67 – Blood Will Tell
68 – A Right to Die
70 – Death of a Doxy
73 – Please Pass the Guilt
Categories: Wolfe Discussion | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at