rainy days, and why you should read Nero Wolfe

It may be August, but it feels very autumnal today. The cool rain made me want nothing more than to stay home with a good book, curled up on the couch wearing flannel, and drinking cinnamon tea. (That’s not what I was able to do this afternoon, but it’s certainly what I desired.) I’m drinking cinnamon tea now, I have a candle lit in the next room, and I’m reading Nero Wolfe. Are you familiar with Nero Wolfe? 

If not, he’s a detective character in several books by Rex Stout. Originally published in the 1930s, they are still fantastic mystery books, and I highly recommend them. They aren’t the most cliffhanger-y whodunits, but they are entertaining just because of how fun it is to read about the lifelike and eccentric characters. I don’t know where to tell you to start… The first book, Fer-de-lance, isn’t the best one, and the books are better judged as a group than individually. You’d have to read a few to really get a good feel for the characters: Nero Wolfe, a brilliant and eccentric gourmand of a detective; Archie Goodwin, Wolfe’s right-hand man, the narrator, and the real reason you want to read the books; Fritz Brenner, chef extraordinaire, whose food will make you hungry; Theodore Horstmann, the gardener with a very specialized job; and Saul Panzer, Orrie Cather, and Fred Durkin, operatives-for-hire. I remember seeing Nero Wolfe books on my dad’s bookshelf when I was younger, but it wasn’t until I was college that I started reading them. Now it’s an interest that my dad and I share, and it’s fun to compare notes when we read different books.

Here’s the list if you want to check them out. They do build on each other, but you can read them in any order without getting terribly lost. Enjoy!

*Denotes a personal favorite. I like them all, but these are some of the ones I most enjoyed.

Nero Wolfe novels by Rex Stout:

  1. Fer-de-lance
  2. And Be a Villain
  3. Before Midnight
  4. The Black Mountain
  5. Champagne for One*
  6. Death of a Doxy
  7. The Death of a Dude
  8. The Doorbell Rang
  9. A Family Affair*
  10. The Father Hunt
  11. The Mother Hunt*
  12. Gambit
  13. Prisoner’s Base*
  14. The Golden Spiders*
  15. If Death Ever Slept
  16. In the Best Families*
  17. The League of Frightened Men
  18. Might as Well be Dead
  19. Murder by the Book
  20. Over My Dead Body
  21. Please Pass the Guilt
  22. Plot it Yourself
  23. The Red Box*
  24. A Right to Die
  25. The Rubber Band
  26. The Second Confession*
  27. The Silent Speaker
  28. Some Buried Caesar
  29. Too Many Clients*
  30. Too Many Cooks
  31. Too Many Women
  32. Where There’s a Will
  33. The Final Deduction

Nero Wolfe short story collections by Rex Stout:

  1. And Four to Go
  2. Black Orchids
  3. Curtains for Three
  4. Death Times Three
  5. Homicide Trinity
  6. Not Quite Dead Enough
  7. Three at Wolfe’s Door
  8. Three Doors to Death*
  9. Three for the Chair
  10. Three Men Out
  11. Three Witnesses
  12. Trio for Blunt Instruments
  13. Triple Jeopardy
  14. Trouble in Triplicate

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