Nero Wolfe

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Midtown Manhattan (photo circa 1935), where most Nero Wolfe stories are set

Nero Wolfe is a fictional detective, created by the American mystery writer Rex Stout, who made his debut in 1934. Wolfe's assistant Archie Goodwin recorded the cases of the detective genius in 33 novels and 39 short stories written by Stout between 1934 and 1975, with most of them set in New York City.

This article collects quotes from the Nero Wolfe corpus.

Contents

Sourced[edit]

Fer-de-Lance[edit]

Fer-de-Lance is the first Nero Wolfe detective novel written by Rex Stout, published in 1934 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc.

  • I am nobody's friend. How much can you pay?
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 1
  • This is a pleasant surprise, Archie. I would not have believed it. That of course is the advantage of being a pessimist; a pessimist gets nothing but pleasant surprises, an optimist nothing but unpleasant.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 1
  • I understand the technique of eccentricity; it would be futile for a man to labor at establishing a reputation for oddity if he were ready at the slightest provocation to revert to normal action.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 5
  • If I were to begin borrowing money I would end by devising means of persuading the Secretary of the Treasury to lend me the gold reserve.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 12
  • Compose yourself, Archie. Why taunt me? Why upbraid me? I am merely a genius, not a god. A genius may discover the hidden secrets and display them; only a god could create new ones.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 15
  • Remember that those of us who are both civilized and prudent commit our murders only under the complicated rules which permit us to avoid personal responsibility.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 16
  • You stick to it, Archie, like a leech to an udder.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 19

The League of Frightened Men[edit]

The League of Frightened Men is the second Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published in 1935 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc.

  • I'm not trying to pick a quarrel, sir. Hell no. I'm just breaking under the strain of trying to figure out a third way of crossing my legs.
    • Archie Goodwin, trying to bestir Nero Wolfe, chapter 1
  • I have no talents. I have genius or nothing.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 1
  • To assert dignity is to lose it.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 4
  • To be broke is not a disgrace, it is only a catastrophe.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 7
  • At that she wasn't really ugly, I mean she wasn't hideous. Wolfe said it right the next day: it was more subtle than plain ugliness, to look at her made you despair of ever seeing a pretty woman again.
    • Archie Goodwin on first seeing Dora Chapin, chapter 9
  • I knew a guy in the army that used to take out a girl's handkerchief and kiss it before he went to sleep. One day a couple of us sneaked it out of his shirt and put something on it, and you should have heard him when he stuck his snout against it that night. He burned it up. Later he laid and cried, he was like that.
    • Orrie Cather, chapter 11

The Rubber Band[edit]

The Rubber Band is the third Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published in 1936 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc.

  • It has been many years since any woman has slept under this roof. Not that I disapprove of them, except when they attempt to function as domestic animals. When they stick to the vocations for which they are best adapted, such as chicanery, sophistry, self-adornment, cajolery, mystification and incubation, they are sometimes splendid creatures.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 7
  • I don't answer questions containing two or more unsupported assumptions.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 12
  • We are all vainer of our luck than of our merits.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 18

The Red Box[edit]

The Red Box is the fourth Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published in 1937 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc.

  • This is Mr. Goodwin, my confidential assistant. Whatever opinion you have formed of me includes him of necessity. His discretion is the twin of his valor.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 8
  • Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 11
  • I know pretty well what my field is. Aside from my primary function as the thorn in the seat of Wolfe's chair to keep him from going to sleep and waking up only for meals, I'm chiefly cut out for two things: to jump and grab something before the other guy can get his paws on it, and to collect pieces of the puzzle for Wolfe to work on.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 12
  • Some day, Archie, I shall be constrained … but no. I cannot remake the universe, and must therefore put up with this one. What is, is, including you.
    • Nero Wolfe to Archie Goodwin, who grants that he has overplayed it, chapter 12
  • They had Gebert down there, slapping him around and squealing and yelling at him. If you're so sure violence is inferior technique, you should have seen that exhibition; it was wonderful. They say it works sometimes, but even if it does, how could you depend on anything you got that way? Not to mention that after you had done it a few times any decent garbage can would be ashamed to have you found in it.
    • Archie Goodwin, reporting to Nero Wolfe on the police interrogation methods he saw used (without success) on Perren Gebert, chapter 14

Too Many Cooks[edit]

Too Many Cooks is the fifth Nero Wolfe detective novel by American mystery writer Rex Stout, published by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., in 1938.

  • But by gum I had got him to the station twenty minutes ahead of time, notwithstanding such items as three bags and two suitcases and two overcoats for a four days' absence in the month of April, Fritz Brenner standing on the stoop with tears in his eyes as we left the house ... and even tough little Saul Panzer, after dumping us at the station, choking off a tremolo as he told Wolfe goodbye. You might have thought we were bound for the stratosphere to shine up the moon and pick wild stars.
    • Archie Goodwin, about to board the train to Kanawha Spa with Nero Wolfe, chapter 1
  • I do not soil myself cheaply; I charge high fees.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 1
  • Nothing is simpler than to kill a man; the difficulties arise in attempting to avoid the consequences.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 3
  • To me the relationship of host and guest is sacred. The guest is a jewel resting on the cushion of hospitality.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 6
  • She leaned back. "Marko told me once, long ago, that you don't like women."
    Wolfe shook his head. "I can only say, nonsense again. I couldn't rise to that impudence. Not like women? They are astounding and successful animals. For reasons of convenience, I merely preserve an appearance of immunity which I developed some years ago under the pressure of necessity. I confess to a specific animus toward you. Marko Vukcic is my friend; you were his wife; and you deserted him. I don't like you."
    • Dina Laszio and Nero Wolfe, chapter 9
  • You, gentlemen, are Americans, much more completely than I am, for I wasn't born here. This is your native country. It was you and your brothers, black and white, who let me come here and live, and I hope you'll let me say, without getting maudlin, that I'm grateful to you for it.
    • Nero Wolfe, addressing the black staff of Kanawha Spa, chapter 10
  • I wouldn't use physical violence even if I could, because one of my romantic ideas is that physical violence is beneath the dignity of a man, and that whatever you get by physical aggression costs more than it is worth.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 10

Some Buried Caesar[edit]

Some Buried Caesar is the sixth Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by Farrar & Rinehart in 1939.

  • No man was ever taken to hell by a woman unless he already had a ticket in his pocket or at least had been fooling around with timetables.
    • Archie Goodwin, after Carolyn Pratt tells him Lily Rowan will ruin her brother, chapter 3

Over My Dead Body[edit]

Over My Dead Body is the seventh Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published in 1940 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc.

  • There are various kinds of discipline. One man's flower is another man's weed. We submit to traffic cops and the sanitary code and so on, but we are extremely fond of certain liberties. Surely you didn't come here in order to discipline Mr. Goodwin? Don't try it; you'd soon get sick of the job.
    • Nero Wolfe to Rudolph Faber, whose previous exchange with Archie Goodwin elicits his complaint that there is no discipline in the United States of America, chapter 6
  • I carry this fat to insulate my feelings. They got too strong for me once or twice and I had that idea. If I had stayed lean and kept moving around I would have been dead long ago. ... I used to be idiotically romantic. I still am, but I've got it in hand.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 8
  • War doesn't mature men; it merely pickles them in the brine of disgust and dread.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 8
  • Don't complicate matters by assuming for me a cupidity and corruption beyond the limits I have set for myself. You're suffering from an occupational disease. When an international financier is confronted by a holdup man with a gun, he automatically hands over not only his money and jewelry but also his shirt and pants, because it doesn't occur to him that a robber might draw the line somewhere.
    • Nero Wolfe to international financier Donald (Donnybonny) Barrett, chapter 10
  • He regarded me with a cold eye. "You know, son," he said finally, "you have one or two good qualities. In a way I even like you. In another way I could stand and watch your hide peeling off and not shed any tears. You have undoubtedly got the goddamdest nerve of anybody I know except maybe Nero Wolfe."
    • Archie Goodwin, relating remarks addressed to him by Inspector Cramer, chapter 14

Where There's a Will[edit]

Where There's a Will is the eighth Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published in 1940 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc.

  • Wolfe frowned at her. He hated fights about wills, having once gone so far as to tell a prospective client that he refused to engage in a tug of war with a dead man's guts for a rope.
    • Archie Goodwin, on Nero Wolfe's response after one of the Hawthorne sisters states they are seeing him because of their brother's will, chapter 1

Black Orchids[edit]

Black Orchids is a Nero Wolfe double mystery by Rex Stout, published in 1942 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc.

Black Orchids (1941)[edit]

  • You are not Archie. Thank God. One Archie is enough.
    • Nero Wolfe, to Johnny Keems, chapter 7

Cordially Invited to Meet Death (1942)[edit]

  • "There is nothing in the world," he said, glaring at me as if I had sent him an anonymous letter, "as indestructible as human dignity. That woman makes money killing time for fools. With it she pays me for rooting around in mud. Half of my share goes for taxes which are used to make bombs to blow people to pieces. Yet I am not without dignity."
    • Archie Goodwin quoting Nero Wolfe, chapter 1
  • And there's no doubt he has fifteen or twenty pasts; I know that much about him.
    • Archie Goodwin on Nero Wolfe, chapter 7

Not Quite Dead Enough[edit]

Not Quite Dead Enough is a Nero Wolfe double mystery by Rex Stout published in 1944 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc.

Not Quite Dead Enough (1942)[edit]

  • "It's all right, boss," I said, trying to smile as if I were trying to smile bravely. "I don't think they'll ever convict me. I'm pretty sure they can't. I've got a lawyer coming to see me. You go home and forget about it. I don't want you to break training."
    • Archie Goodwin under arrest, to Nero Wolfe, chapter 8
  • Wolfe pronounced a word. It was the first time I had ever heard him pronounce an unprintable word, and it stopped me short.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 8

Booby Trap (1944)[edit]

  • "Indeed," I said. That was Nero Wolfe's word, and I never used it except in moments of stress, and it severely annoyed me when I caught myself using it, because when I look in a mirror I prefer to see me as is, with no skin grafted from anybody else's hide, even Nero Wolfe's.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 4
  • Archie. I submit to circumstances. So should you.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 5

The Silent Speaker[edit]

Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States

The Silent Speaker is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1946.

  • Mr. Kates, I have known Wolfe for twenty years, and I can tell you why we were invited here this evening. We were invited because he wanted to learn all he could as quick as he could, without leaving his chair and without Goodwin's buying gas and wearing out his tires.
  • A woman who is not a fool is dangerous.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 11

Too Many Women[edit]

Too Many Women is a Nero Wolfe novel by Rex Stout published in 1947 by the Viking Press.

  • A tiger's eyes can't make light, Saul, they can only reflect it. You've spent a day in the dark.
    • Nero Wolfe, to an apologetic Saul Panzer, chapter 13
  • It was nothing new for Wolfe to take steps, either on his own or with one or more of the operatives we used, without burdening my mind with it. His stated reason was that I worked better if I thought it all depended on me. His actual reason was that he loved to have a curtain go up revealing him balancing a live seal on his nose.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 22

And Be a Villain[edit]

And Be a Villain (British title More Deaths Than One) is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1948.

  • You come down from your beautiful orchids day before yesterday and breeze in here and tell me merrily to draw another man-size check for that World Government outfit. When I meekly mention that the science of bookkeeping has two main branches, first addition, and second subtraction —
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 1
  • A man condemning the income tax because of the annoyance it gives him or the expense it puts him to is merely a dog baring its teeth, and he forfeits the privileges of civilized discourse. But it is possible to criticize it on other and impersonal grounds. A government, like an individual, spends money for any or all of three reasons: because it needs to, because it wants to, or simply because it has it to spend. The last is much the shabbiest. It is arguable, if not manifest, that a substantial portion of the great spring flood of billions pouring into the Treasury will in effect get spent for the last shabby reason.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 1
  • I mean the purpose she allows her cleverness to serve. That unspeakable prepared biscuit flour! Fritz and I have tried it. Those things she calls Sweeties! Pfui! And that salad dressing abomination — we have tried that too, in an emergency. What they do to stomachs heaven knows, but that woman is ingeniously and deliberately conspiring in the corruption of millions of palates. She should be stopped!
    • Nero Wolfe, on a radio host's sponsors, chapter 4
  • Frequently, twice a week or oftener, you consider the problem of guests for Miss Fraser's program. It is in fact a problem, because you want interesting people, famous ones if possible, but they must be willing to submit to the indignity of lending their presence, and their assent by silence, if nothing more, to the preposterous statements made by Miss Fraser and Mr. Meadows regarding the products they advertise.
    • Nero Wolfe, again on the radio host's sponsors, chapter 5
  • You have no right whatever, Mr. Anderson, except to pay your share of my fee if I earn it. You are here in my office on sufferance. Confound it, I am undertaking to solve a problem that has Mr. Cramer so nonplused that he desperately wants a hint from me before I've even begun. He doesn't mind my rudeness; he's so accustomed to it that if I were affable he'd haul me in as a material witness.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 6
  • Well. I won't pretend that I'm exasperated that you're such good friends that you haven't been able to remember what happened. If you had, and had told the police, I might not have this job.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 6
  • More than ninety-nine per cent of the bets placed on horse races are outbusts of emotion, not exercises of reason. I restrict my emotions to the activities for which they are qualified.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 8
  • Pfui. I have better use for my clients' money than buying information from policemen.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 12

Trouble in Triplicate[edit]

Trouble in Triplicate is a collection of Nero Wolfe stories by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1949.

Help Wanted, Male (1945)[edit]

  • Use your brains, but give up the idea of renting mine.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 1

Before I Die (1947)[edit]

  • I rarely leave my house. I do like it here. I would be an idiot to leave this chair, made to fit me —
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 2

Instead of Evidence (1946)[edit]

  • When the day finally comes that I tie Wolfe to a stake and shoot him, one of the fundamental reasons will be his theory that the less I know the more I can help, or to put it another way, that everything inside my head shows on my face. It only makes it worse that he doesn't really believe it. He merely can't stand it to have anybody keep up with him at any time on any track.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 9

The Second Confession[edit]

The Second Confession is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1949.

  • It's okay. He never sleeps in the daytime. His mind works better when he can't see me.
    • Archie Goodwin, about Nero Wolfe, chapter 1
  • I responded to his tone as a man of my temperament naturally would — I am congenitally tart and thorny — and I rejected his ultimatum.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 7
  • Much obliged. You remind me of Mr. Wolfe.
    • Archie Goodwin, thanking Saul for his suggestion that they call Mr. Sperling, chapter 15
  • One reason I like to work for him is that he never rides me for not acting the way he would act. He knows what I can do and that's all he ever expects; but he sure expects that.
    • Archie Goodwin, about Nero Wolfe, chapter 16
  • There are numerous layers of honesty, and the deepest should not have a monopoly.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 18
  • As I understand it, the Commies think that they get too little and capitalists get too much of the good things in life. They sure played hell with that theory that Tuesday evening.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 22

In the Best Families[edit]

In the Best Families (British title Even in the Best Families) is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1950.

  • I'm fairly good with a billiard cue, and only Saul Panzer can beat me at tailing a man or woman in New York, but what I am best at is reporting a complicated event to Nero Wolfe.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 4
  • I lifted my right brow at him. It's one of my few outstanding talents, lifting one brow, and I save it for occasions when nothing else would quite serve the purpose.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 11
  • I'm the only woman in America who has necked with Nero Wolfe. Nightmare, my eye. He has a flair.
    • Lily Rowan, chapter 14
  • It's not enough to want to do a good deed, you damn fool. Wanting is fine, but you also need some slight idea of how to go about it.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 18

Murder by the Book[edit]

Murder by the Book is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout published in 1951 by the Viking Press.

  • If you like Anglo-Saxon, I belched. If you fancy Latin, I eructed. No matter which, I had known that Wolfe and Inspector Cramer would have to put up with it that evening, because that is always a part of my reaction to sauerkraut. I don't glory in it or go for a record, but neither do I fight it back. I want to be liked just for myself.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 2
  • If you need any help with all the ladies, Archie, for my age I am not to be ignored. A Swiss has a long usefulness.
  • The only reason I wouldn't vote for Saul Panzer for President of the United States is that he would never dress the part. How he goes around New York, almost anywhere, in that faded brown cap and old brown suit, without attracting attention as not belonging, I will never understand. Wolfe has never given him an assignment that he didn't fill better than anyone else could except me, and my argument is why not elect him President, buy him a suit and hat, and see what happens?
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 12
  • As practicing attorneys, you gentlemen know that the potency of knowledge depends on how and when it is used.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 17
  • "… I want a man who is educated or can talk like it, not too young and not too old, sharp and quick, able to take on a bushel of new facts and have them ready for use."
    "Jesus." Dolman clasped his hands behind his head. "J. Edgar Hoover maybe?"
    • Archie Goodwin and Ferdinand Dolman, chapter 15

Triple Jeopardy[edit]

Triple Jeopardy is a collection of Nero Wolfe mystery novellas by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1952.

The Squirt and the Monkey (1951)[edit]

  • There's nothing as safe as ignorance — or as dangerous.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 7

Home to Roost (1952)[edit]

  • Two of them were just men whose names I knew and with whose records I was fairly familiar, but the third was Saul Panzer, the one guy I want within hearing the day I get hung on the face of a cliff with jet eagles zooming at me.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 5

Prisoner’s Base[edit]

Prisoner's Base (British title Out Goes She) is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1952.

  • This whole performance is based on an idiotic assumption, which was natural and indeed inevitable, since Mr. Rowcliff is your champion ass — the assumption that Mr. Goodwin and I are both cretins. I do not deny that at times in the past I have been less than candid with you — I will acknowledge, to humor you, that I have humbugged and hoodwinked to serve my purpose — but I still have my license, and you know what that means. It means that on balance I have helped you more than I have hurt you — not the community, which is another matter, but you Mr. Cramer, and you Mr. Bowen, and of course you others, too.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 6

The Golden Spiders[edit]

The Golden Spiders is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout published in 1953 by the Viking Press.

  • It is desirable that you should earn your fees, but it is essential that you feel you have earned them, and that depends partly on your ego.
    • Nero Wolfe, lecturing 12-year-old Pete Drossos on the art of detection, chapter 1
  • Take Mr. Goodwin. It would be difficult for me to function effectively without him. He is irreplaceable. Yet his actions are largely governed by impulse and caprice, and that would of course incapacitate him for any important task if it were not that he has somewhere concealed in him — possibly in his brain, though I doubt it — a powerful and subtle governor.
    • Nero Wolfe to Pete Drossos, chapter 1
  • Wolfe was in the office looking at television, which gives him a lot of pleasure. I have seen him turn it on as many as eight times in one evening, glare at it for from one to three minutes, turn it off, and go back to his book. Once he made me a long speech about it which I may record some day.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 11

The Black Mountain[edit]

Cijevna River, Montenegro

The Black Mountain is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout published in 1954 by the Viking Press.

  • Gallantry is not always a lackey for lust.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 2
  • I pay him the tribute of speaking of him and feeling about him precisely as I did when he lived; the insult would be to smear his corpse with the honey excreted by my fear of death.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 2
  • Starving the live will not profit the dead.
    • Fritz Brenner, impressing Nero Wolfe with an original remark that Wolfe mistakes as a quote from Montaigne, chapter 2
  • I remembered that one evening after dinner I had heard Wolfe and Marko discussing the trout they had caught in their early days, Marko claiming he had once landed one 40 centimeters long, and I had translated it into inches — 16. I swiveled my head to ask Wolfe if it was in the Cijevna that he and Marko had got trout, and he said yes, but in a tone of voice that did not invite conversation, so I let it lie.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 3
  • Wolfe’s attitude was perfect for saying "Over my dead body," but he didn’t say it.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 13

Before Midnight[edit]

Before Midnight is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout published in 1955 by the Viking Press.

  • I gave Wolfe the scuttlebutt, but apparently he wasn't listening. It was Sunday evening, when he especially enjoys turning the television off. Of course he has to turn it on first, intermittently throughout the evening, and that takes a lot of exertion, but he has provided for it by installing a remote control panel at his desk. That way he can turn off as many as twenty programs in an evening without overdoing.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 14
  • No man should tell a lie unless he is shrewd enough to recognize the time for renouncing it, if and when it comes, and knows how to renounce it gracefully.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 15
  • I would appreciate it if they would call a halt on all their devoted efforts to find a way to abolish war or eliminate disease or run trains with atoms or extend the span of human life to a couple of centuries, and everybody concentrate for a while on how to wake me up in the morning without my resenting it. It may be that a bevy of beautiful maidens in pure silk yellow very sheer gowns, barefooted, singing Oh, What a Beautiful Morning and scattering rose petals over me would do the trick, but I'd have to try it.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 20

Might as Well Be Dead[edit]

Might as Well Be Dead is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout published in 1956 by the Viking Press.

  • I will ride my luck on occasion, but I like to pick the occasion.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 6
  • The more you put in a brain, the more it will hold — if you have one.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 9
  • When a hippopotamus is peevish it's a lot of peeve.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 13

If Death Ever Slept[edit]

If Death Ever Slept is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout published in 1957 by the Viking Press.

  • He didn't look tough, he looked flabby, but of course that's no sign. The toughest guy I ever ran into had cheeks that needed a brassière.
    • Archie Goodwin, introducing a prospective client, chapter 1

And Four To Go[edit]

And Four To Go is a collection of Nero Wolfe novellas by Rex Stout published in 1958 by the Viking Press.

Christmas Party (1957)[edit]

  • I repeat, there are times when love takes over. (Santa Claus, where is yours? But I suppose you can't drink through that mask.) There are times when all the little demons disappear down their ratholes, and ugliness itself takes on the shape of beauty; when the darkest corner is touched by light; when the coldest heart feels the glow of warmth; when the trumpet call of good will and good cheer drowns out all the Babel of mean little noises. This is such a time. Merry Christmas! Merry merry merry!
    • Kurt Bottweill's toast, chapter 2
  • The point was this, that he had shown what he really thought of me. He had shown that rather than lose me he would do something that he wouldn't have done for any fee anybody could name.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 4

Easter Parade (1957)[edit]

  • For what you pay me I do your mail, I make myself obnoxious to people, I tail them when necessary, I shoot when I have to and get shot at, I stick around and take every mood you've got, I give you and Theodore a hand in the plant room when required, I lie to Inspector Cramer and Sergeant Stebbins whether required or not, I even help Fritz in the kitchen in emergencies, I answer the phone.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 1

Fourth Of July Picnic (1957)[edit]

  • I was born in Montenegro and spent my early boyhood there. At the age of sixteen I decided to move around, and in fourteen years I became acquainted with most of Europe, a little of Africa, and much of Asia, in a variety of roles and activities. Coming to this country in nineteen-thirty, not penniless, I bought this house and entered into practice as a private detective. I am a naturalized American citizen.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 4
  • Born in Ohio. Public high school, pretty good at geometry and football, graduated with honor but no honors. Went to college two weeks, decided it was childish, came to New York and got a job guarding a pier, shot and killed two men and was fired, was recommended to Nero Wolfe for a chore he wanted done, did it, was offered a full-time job by Mr. Wolfe, took it, still have it.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 4

Murder Is No Joke (1958)[edit]

  • Don't raise one brow like that. You know it disconcerts me.
    • Nero Wolfe to Archie Goodwin, chapter 3

Champagne for One[edit]

Champagne for One is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1958.

  • In a world that operates largely at random, coincidences are to be expected, but any one of them must always be mistrusted.
    • Nero Wolfe, on the remarkable coincidence that Edwin Laidlaw and Faith Usher would both be invited to the same event, chapter 5
  • Anyone who takes Wolfe down a peg renders a service to the balance of nature, and to tell him to his face that he was merely a carbon copy of the cops was enough to spoil his appetite for dinner.
    • Archie Goodwin, after Helen Yarmis tells Nero Wolfe she can answer his questions without even thinking, chapter 8
  • You are headstrong and I am magisterial. Our tolerance of each other is a constantly recurring miracle.
    • Nero Wolfe, as Archie is preparing to write himself a check for a month's severance pay, chapter 12

Plot It Yourself[edit]

Plot It Yourself (British title Murder in Style) is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1959.

  • A clever man might successfully disguise every element of his style but one — the paragraphing. Diction and syntax may be determined and controlled by rational processes in full consciousness, but paragraphing — the decision whether to take short hops or long ones, whether to hop in the middle of a thought or action or finish it first — that comes from instinct, from the depths of personality.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 3

Too Many Clients[edit]

Too Many Clients is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1960.

  • How often have I told you that impetuosity is a virtue only when delay is dangerous?
    • Nero Wolfe to Archie Goodwin, chapter 3

The Final Deduction[edit]

The Final Deduction is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1961.

  • It helps a lot, with two people as much together as he and I were, if they understand each other. He understood that I was too strong-minded to add another word unless he told me to, and I understood that he was too pigheaded to tell me to.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 5
  • I don't know how a brain that is never used passes the time.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 8

Homicide Trinity[edit]

Homicide Trinity is a collection of three Nero Wolfe mystery novellas by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1962.

Eeny Meeny Murder Mo (1962)[edit]

  • Well. When cheek meets cheek. You are manifestly indomitable and I must buckle my breastplate.
    • Nero Wolfe, to a barking Gregory Jett, chapter 4
  • I dived for the connecting door and went with it as I swung it open, and kept going, but two paces short of Wolfe's desk I halted to take in a sight I had never seen before and never expect to see again: Nero Wolfe with his arms tight around a beautiful young woman in his lap, pinning her arms, hugging her close to him. I stood paralyzed.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 9

Death of a Demon (1961)[edit]

  • The subconscious is not a grave; it's a cistern.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 1
  • Wolfe's bellow would stop a tiger ready to spring.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 8

Counterfeit for Murder (1961)[edit]

  • He picked up the top item from the little pile of mail, an airmail letter from an orchid hunter in Venezuela, and started to read it. I swung my chair around and started sharpening pencils that didn't need it. The noise of the sharpener gets on his nerves. I was on the fourth pencil when his voice came.
    • Archie Goodwin, persuading Nero Wolfe to see Hattie Annis, chapter 1

Gambit[edit]

Gambit is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1962.

  • Mr. Wolfe is in the middle of a fit. It's complicated. There's a fireplace in the front room, but it's never lit because he hates open fires. He says they stultify mental processes. But it's lit now because he's using it. He's seated in front of it, on a chair too small for him, tearing sheets out of a book and burning them. The book is the new edition, the third edition, of Webster's New International Dictionary, Unabridged, published by the G. & C. Merriam Company of Springfield, Massachusetts. He considers it subversive because it threatens the integrity of the English language. In the past week he has given me a thousand examples of its crimes. He says it is a deliberate attempt to murder the — I beg your pardon. I describe the situation at length because he told me to bring you in there, and it will be bad.
    • Archie Goodwin, before asking a prospective client to reschedule her appointment, chapter 1
  • Once he burned up a cookbook because it said to remove the hide from a ham end before putting it in the pot with lima beans. Which he loves most, food or words, is a tossup.
    • Archie Goodwin, telling Sally Blount that Nero Wolfe's burning a dictionary is not without precedent, chapter 1
  • Do you use 'infer' and 'imply' interchangeably, Miss Blount?
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 1
  • My job is starting you, not stopping you.
    • Archie Goodwin, refusing to be admonished by Nero Wolfe, chapter 2

The Mother Hunt[edit]

The Mother Hunt is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1963.

  • Maintaining integrity as a private detective is difficult; to preserve it for the hundred thousand words of a book would be impossible for me, as it has been for so many others. Nothing corrupts a man so deeply as writing a book; the myriad temptations are overwhelming.
    • Nero Wolfe, declining an offer from publisher Julian Haft, chapter 9

Trio for Blunt Instruments[edit]

Trio for Blunt Instruments is a collection of three Nero Wolfe novellas by Rex Stout, published in 1964 by the Viking Press.

Kill Now — Pay Later (1961)[edit]

  • Innocence has no contract with bliss.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 7
  • Saul smiled. His smile is as tender as he is tough, and it helps to make him the best poker player I know.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 9

Murder Is Corny (1964)[edit]

  • I turned to Wolfe. "Your Honor, I object to the question on the ground that it is insulting, impertinent, and disgusticulous."
    • Archie Goodwin, while being questioned by Inspector Cramer, chapter 1

Blood Will Tell (1963)[edit]

  • When I mentioned the title of the privately printed book [The Music of the Future] he made a noise — he says all music is a vestige of barbarism ...
    • Archie Goodwin, while reporting to Nero Wolfe, chapter 2
  • The brain can be hoodwinked but not the stomach.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 5

A Right to Die[edit]

A Right to Die is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1964.

  • Come, sir, is time really so precious? Mine isn't. If yours is, all the more tempting to steal a little.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 8
  • I always belong wherever I am.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 11

The Doorbell Rang[edit]

The Doorbell Rang is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1965.

  • I am neither a thaumaturge nor a dunce.
    • Nero Wolfe, refusing Rachel Bruner's $50,000 retainer, chapter 1
  • I can dodge folly without backing into fear.
    • Nero Wolfe to Rachel Bruner, chapter 1
  • Pfui. Are you a dunce, or do you take me for one?
    • Nero Wolfe to FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Wragg, chapter 12

Death of a Doxy[edit]

Death of a Doxy is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1966.

  • There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up.
    • Archie Goodwin, before stating one of the second kind, chapter 9

The Father Hunt[edit]

The Father Hunt is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1968.

  • Women are random clusters of vagaries.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 8
  • If you please, Mr. Jarrett, no labels. Labels are for the things men make, not for men. The most primitive man is too complex to be labeled.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 9

Death of a Dude[edit]

Death of a Dude is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1969.

  • She forked a bite of meat to her mouth and started to chew. She often did that; she might get a part in a play with an eating scene, and mixing chewing and talking needed practice. An actor can practice anywhere any time with anybody, and most of them do.
    • Archie Goodwin, about fellow house guest Diana Kadany, chapter 3
  • A self-invited guest is an abomination, but there is no alternative for me.
    • Nero Wolfe to Lily Rowan, chapter 4
  • I don't play games. I like using words, not playing with them.
    • Nero Wolfe declining to play Scrabble, chapter 5
  • Man's brain, enlarged fortuitously, invented words in an ambitious attempt to learn how to think, only to have them usurped by his emotions. But we still try.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 8
  • Wolfe was put between Carol and Alma, and I was across from him and had a good view of his reaction to the tomato soup out of a can. He got it down all right, all of it, and the only thing noticeable was noticed only by me: that he carefully did not permit me to catch his eye.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 8

The Nero Wolfe Cookbook[edit]

The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, by Rex Stout and the editors of Viking Press, was published by the Viking Press in 1973.

  • And I am also not surprised that my employer, Mr. Nero Wolfe, approves of its publication because he has a great belief in the influence of printed words in books.

    But I have not a great hope that many people will eat superior meals because they buy this book and use it. On that I could say much but I will not write much and I will give only one case. There are a man and woman, married, at whose home I eat sometimes. They own fourteen cookbooks, good ones which they have asked me to suggest, and they have many times asked me for information and advice about cooking which I have been happy to give, but the dishes they serve are only fit to eat. They are not fit to remember after I come away. Those people should not try to roast a duck, and especially they should never try to make Sauce Saint Florentin.

    The facts about food and cooking can be learned and understood by anyone with good sense, but if the feeling of the art of cooking is not in your blood and bones the most you can expect is that what you put on your table will be mangeable. If it is sometimes mémorable that will be only good luck. Mr. Wolfe says that the secrets of the art of great cooking, like those of any art, are not in the brain. He says that no one knows where they are.

    • Fritz Brenner, in the foreword, speaking of the publication of their cookbook

Please Pass the Guilt[edit]

Please Pass the Guilt is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1973.

  • That was a first — the first time Inspector Cramer had ever arrived and been escorted to the office in the middle of a session with the hired hands. And Saul Panzer did something he seldom does — he stunted. He was in the red leather chair, and when I ushered Cramer in I expected to find Saul on his feet, moving up another yellow chair to join Fred and Orrie, but no. He was staying put. Cramer, surprised, stood in the middle of the rug and said, loud, "Oh?" Wolfe, surprised at Saul, put his brows up. I, pretending I wasn't surprised, went to get a yellow chair. And damned if Cramer didn't cross in front of Fred and Orrie to my chair, swing it around, and park his big fanny on it. As he sat, Saul, his lips a little tight to keep from grinning, got up and came to take the yellow chair I had brought. That left the red leather chair empty and I went and occupied it, sliding back and crossing my legs to show that I was right at home.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 9
  • I work for Nero Wolfe. ... He knows more words than Shakespeare knew.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 10
  • You are looking at the wrong side. Just turn it over, that's all you ever have to do, just turn it over.
    • Fritz Brenner, chapter 11
  • My only objection to Jews is that one of them is as good a poker player as I am. Sometimes a little better.
    • Archie Goodwin, after being asked whether he is anti-Zionist, chapter 14

A Family Affair[edit]

A Family Affair is the final Nero Wolfe novel by Rex Stout, published in 1975 by the Viking Press.

  • It's possible to tell your mind what to do only when your mind agrees with you.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 2
  • To everybody, starting with us.
    • Lily Rowan, chapter 13
  • It's a temptation, sure it is, but I'm not like Oscar Wilde, I can resist it.
    • Saul Panzer, chapter 14
  • Pierre said I was the greatest detective in the world. All is vanity.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 18

Death Times Three[edit]

Death Times Three is a collection of Nero Wolfe novellas by Rex Stout, published posthumously by Bantam Books in 1985. The first, "Bitter End," was first printed in the November 1940 issue of The American Magazine, and collected in the limited-edition volume Corsage: A Bouquet of Rex Stout (1977). The story is a re-working of Stout's Tecumseh Fox story Bad for Business. The second, "Frame-Up for Murder," is an expanded rewrite of the 1958 novella "Murder Is No Joke" that was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post but never published in book form. The third, "Assault on a Brownstone," is an early draft of the 1961 novella "Counterfeit for Murder."

Bitter End (1940)[edit]

  • "The last man who spat at me," I said casually, "got three bullets in the heart before he hit the floor."
    • Archie Goodwin, page 2 of the first Bantam Books edition
  • "That will do, Archie." Wolfe put down his empty glass. I had never heard his tone more menacing. "I am not impressed with your failure to understand this abominable outrage. I might bring myself to tolerate it if some frightened or vindictive person shot me to death, but this is insupportable." He made the growling noise again. "My food. You know my attitude toward food." He aimed a rigid finger at the jar, and his voice trembled with ferocity. "Whoever put that in there is going to regret it."
    • Nero Wolfe, recovering from his taste of quinine-spiked liver pâté, pp. 3–4 of the first Bantam Books edition
  • I have never regarded myself as a feast for the eye, my attractions run more to the spiritual, but on the other hand I am not a toad, and I resented her expression.
    • Archie Goodwin, page 45 of the first Bantam Books edition

Frame-Up for Murder (1958)[edit]

  • I had first noticed her in the lobby of the Churchill, because she rated a glance as a matter of principle — the principle that a man owes it to his eyes to let them rest on attractive objects when there are any around.
    • Archie Goodwin, on noticing Flora Gallant, chapter 1

Assault on a Brownstone (1959)[edit]

  • Wolfe was standing over by the big globe, probably picking out a spot for me to be exiled to.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 3

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:
  • The Wolfe Pack, official site of the Nero Wolfe Society
  • Merely a Genius..., Winnifred Louis' fan site dedicated to Nero Wolfe including a complete annotated bibliography Merely a Genius...], Winnifred Louis' fan site dedicated to Nero Wolfe including a complete annotated bibliography