So this week I’m reading–or rather, re-reading–a book, Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout, that’s printed on actual paper. Aged, yellowing paper, even! This is the 50th anniversary edition, published in 1984, which means that if it were published now it would be the 80th anniversary edition. Does anybody else feel old?
Fer-de-Lance is, of course, the first of some forty-odd Nero Wolfe books, most of which I’ve already read. It, along with a box full of most of the rest of the Nero Wolfe oeuvre (and the Walter Simonson biography of Steve Jobs, just to add a little heft to the package), recently arrived here from the mythical land of New York courtesy of my father, who recently went through and read them all again, then shipped them out here so I could read them again, too. Thanks, Dad!
The Wolfe books constitute one of the few series I’ve read more than once; the only other books I can think of off the top of my head that I’ve read through in its entirety are the Tolkien books (LotR and The Hobbit; I only got through The Silmarillion once). After Rex Stout passed away, the publisher continued the series for a bit with another writer, Robert Goldsborough; I read one or two of those but they weren’t the same and I never got into them. As far as I’m concerned, the true continuation of the Wolfe/Goodwin adventures can be found in the the Alchemist series by Dave Duncan, starting with The Alchemist’s Apprentice. Of course, in those books the part of Nero Wolfe is played by Nostradamus, the part of Archie is played by a disgraced sword-wielding nobleman, the part of Lily Rowan is played by the courtesan next door, and the part of New York City is played by medieval Venice; but they’re still the best Rex Stout mysteries that Rex Stout didn’t write.
I think this is my third time through the set of Archie Goodwin’s tales of murder and mayhem. Well, murder anyway; there’s generally not much mayhem in these books, unless Arnold Zeck is involved. Or if there’s a snake. Which there is, although Archie doesn’t know it yet.
Fifty grand, with the Wolfe bank balance sagging like a clothesline under a wet horse blanket; and not only that, but a chance of keeping our places on the platform in the biggest show of the season. I was calm and cool, but it was only twenty minutes after ten.
Oh sure, Archie, you’re calm and cool now, but just you wait … Anyway, speaking of fat men who don’t like to leave their chairs, the final edit of the conclusion of Shards is winding down, to be followed by formatting and publishing the eBook, then (finally!) the creation of the dead tree editions of both parts.
Snoring sounds emanated from the throne. Confused, she inched forward and peered around the tall back to see who was there. A fat man, hairy, slovenly, but richly dressed, lay sprawled across it, slumped to one side, his mouth hanging open. A king? He looked like someone she should know, but she was sure she had never seen him before.
Hmm, slovenly? Definitely not Wolfe, then.