A couple days ago I finished reading Robert Goldsborough’s Archie Meets Nero Wolfe. I thought it was pretty fair and it was fun to see how the author set up that first meeting and case, culminating with Wolfe hiring Goodwin. I was talking with a friend about the book a little later and his opinion was it wasn’t too good. He didn’t even finish it. He said Archie’s ‘voice’ was wrong; his personality off. He didn’t even get to the part where Wolfe entered the book. A second friend, who is a real Wolfe aficionado, didn’t know of it, but said if he had he wouldn’t have read it. He said “Were I Wolfe, I’d have declined to review the book on the grounds that it would ruin my digestion.”
Well, I thought that was pretty interesting. I couldn’t quite agree that it was that far off, so I decided to immediately read a Stout Wolfe book and see.
Boy, were they right. After reading “Booby Trap” in the two novelette paperback Not Quite Dead Enough I was amazed at how vanilla Goldsborough’s portrayal was. I admit I hadn’t read a Wolfe in eight months, maybe longer. Maybe that was it. Archie Meets Nero Wolfe was authorized by the Stout people who own the rights, so they must have thought it was okay, but it certainly doesn’t stand up to the real thing as written by Rex Stout.
There don’t seem to be many pastiches of Wolfe the way there are with Holmes. Maybe this is because of control of Rex Stout’s heirs, I don’t know, but it strikes me as a good thing. If you want to enjoy a Nero Wolfe story or novel, there are a lot of them to choose from. Go for the genuine article, because when it comes to Nero Wolfe, nobody writes him like his inventor, Rex Stout.