Archie Goodwin Meets Nero Wolfe – Robert Goldsborough
Recommended for: Fans of the series, folks who enjoy Glen Cook’s Garrett PI, Sherlock fans, and mystery fans.
This book is bittersweet for me. I am an ardent Nero Wolfe fan and have read every one of the books. (Rex Stout’s and Robert Goldsborough’s)
In this book, Archie Goodwin as a nineteen year old rookie from Ohio learning his way around the private detective business. Which is slightly jarring, because of course, I will always think of him as the thirty-something he was in the rest of the series. (Rex Stout made a decision. The world around the brownstone changed, but the characters remained the same age from the beginning of the series to the end. If he were writing today, Archie would have a smart phone, and Wolfe would Skype to orchid growers around the world, but they’d be the same age they were in 1930.)
This is not the Archie from the rest of the Nero Wolfe books and Wolfe himself is more of a spider hidden in his web than usual because the two haven’t bounced against each other for ten years yet.
Saul is there. Along with the rest of the family. I think that’s the bittersweet part. Everyone is spot on. (Goldsborough wrote seven Wolfe books after Stout’s death. All of them are wonderful.)
It’s just… I know what happens in A Family Affair. Seeing Orrie, Fred, Saul, and Archie in their younger selves is like seeing an them come into focus on a Polaroid. It’s an excellent use of the characters. I see who they will become hinted in who they are now. Wolfe too, is not himself yet. He has his routines, but he has not filled out to his handsome proportions yet.
The Williamson kidnapping case is satisfyingly complex. The Prohibition era details are exceedingly rich. And Archie is a perfect mirror for it. He’s still adjusting to his new world, but his voice is perfect and shows the man he will become.
The book is an easy read and — as always — all the clues are laid out for you. You just have to be clever enough to string them together.