Nero Wolfe

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
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 in 1934. Wolfe's assistant Archie Goodwin is portrayed as having 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.


Ad in The American Magazine (October 1934) announcing the debut of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin
Illustrator Fred Ludekens created the first visual interpretation of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin for the abridged version of Fer-de-Lance that appeared in The American Magazine (November 1934).
Fer-de-Lance is the first Nero Wolfe detective novel written by Rex Stout, published in 1934 by Farrar & Rinehart. The novel appeared in abridged form in The American Magazine (November 1934) under the title "Point of Death."
  • Where's my beer?
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 1 (His first recorded words)
  • 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
  • Must I again remind you, Archie, of the reaction you would have got if you had asked Velasquez to explain why Aesop's hand was resting inside his robe instead of hanging by his side? Must I again demonstrate that while it is permissible to request the scientist to lead you back over his footprints, a similar request of the artist is nonsense, since he, like the lark or the eagle, has made none? Do you need to be told again that I am an artist?
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 5
  • 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 was serialized in six issues of The Saturday Evening Post (June 15 – July 20, 1935) under the title The Frightened Men. The novel was published in 1935 by Farrar & Rinehart.
  • 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
  • Archie. One would know everything in the world there is to know, if one waited long enough. The one fault in the passivity of Buddha as a technique for the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom is the miserably brief span of human life. He sat through the first stanza of the first canto of the preamble, and then left for an appointment with ... let us say, with a certain chemist.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 2
  • I have no talents. I have genius or nothing.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 2
  • 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
  • But in connection with my remark to Mr. Kommers it occurs to me that no publication either before or since the invention of printing, no theological treatise and no political or scientific creed, has ever been as narrowly dogmatic or as offensively arbitrary in its prejudices as a railway timetable.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 7
  • I would like to say another thing right here, that I know when I'm out of my class. I've got my limitations, and I never yet have tried to give them the ritz.
    • Archie Goodwin, narrating, chapter 8
  • 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 back-seat driving of the less charitable emotions often makes me wonder that the brain does not desert the wheel entirely, in righteous exasperation.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 16
  • I said, "I'm sleepy. When I have to wait until nearly midnight for my dinner and then it's squirrel stew ..."
    Wolfe nodded. "Yes, I know. Under those circumstances I would be no better than a maniac."
    • Archie and Wolfe, chapter 18
  • It is the fashion to say anything is possible. The truth is, very few things are possible, pitiably few.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 18
The Rubber Band opens with the revelation that Wolfe has added a workout to his daily schedule. He hurls yellow-feathered darts at a poker-dart board that Fritz hangs in the office from 3:45 to 4 p.m.
"He took his coat and vest off, exhibiting about eighteen square feet of canary-yellow shirt, and chose the darts with yellow feathers, which were his favorites."
Prior to its publication in 1936 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., The Rubber Band was serialized in six issues of The Saturday Evening Post (February 29 – April 4, 1936).
  • Wolfe still paid no attention to me. As a matter of fact, I didn't expect him to, since he was busy taking exercise. He had recently got the impression that he weighed too much—which was about the same as if the Atlantic Ocean formed the opinion that it was too wet—and so had added a new item to his daily routine. … He called the darts javelins.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 1
  • No one ever suffered any injury from those darts that I know of, except me. Over a period of two months Nero Wolfe nicked me for a little worse than eighty-five bucks, playing draw with the Joker and deuces wild, at two bits a go. There was no chance of getting any real accuracy with it, it was mostly luck.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 1
  • 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
  • You know, Mr. Goodwin, this house represents the most insolent denial of female rights the mind of man has ever conceived. No woman in it from top to bottom, but the routine is faultless, the food is perfect, and the sweeping and dusting are impeccable. I have never been a housewife, but I can't overlook this challenge. I'm going to marry Mr. Wolfe, and I know a girl that will be just the thing for you, and of course our friends will be in and out a good deal. This place needs some upsetting.
    • Clara Fox, client in residence, pouring Archie’s after-dinner coffee in the dining room while wearing his yellow dressing gown, chapter 12
  • I don't answer questions containing two or more unsupported assumptions.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 12
  • All debts are preposterous. They are the envious past clutching with its cold dead fingers the throat of the living present.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 13
  • He took his coat and vest off, exhibiting about eighteen square feet of canary-yellow shirt, and chose the darts with yellow feathers, which were his favorites.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 14
  • We are all vainer of our luck than of our merits.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 18
James Schucker illustrated The Red Box for its appearance in five issues of The American Magazine, beginning in December 1936.
Prior to its publication in 1937 by Farrar & Rinehart, The Red Box was serialized in five issues of The American Magazine (December 1936 – April 1937).
  • 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
  • Wolfe murmured, "Ten men ,,, a hundred ... a thousand ... Really, Mr. Cramer, with such an outfit as that, you should catch at least ten culprits for every crime committed."
    "Yeah. We do."
    • Wolfe and Cramer, Chapter 9
  • 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
Vladimir Bobri created the title illustration for Too Many Cooks, serialized in six issues of The American Magazine beginning in March 1938.
Too Many Cooks was serialized in The American Magazine (March–August 1938) before its publication in book form in 1938 by Farrar & Rinehart.
  • 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
  • We have two kinds of detectives in America, might and main. I'm the main kind. That means I do very little of the hard work, like watering the horses and shooting prisoners and greasing the chutes. Mostly all I do is think, as for instance when they want someone to think what to do next. Mr. Wolfe there is the might kind. You see how big and strong he is. He can run like a deer.
    • Archie, attracted to Constanza Berin, makes up nonsense, Chapter 1
  • "But... what are the horses for?"
    I explained patiently. "There is a law in this country against killing a man unless you have a horse on him. When two or more men are throwing dice for the drinks, you will often hear one of them say, 'horse on you' or 'horse on me.' You can't kill a man unless you say that before he does. ..."
    • Archie, with more nonsense (with roots in Americana, see [1]) for Constanza's entertainment, Chapter 1
  • It was after eleven o'clock, and half the chairs in the club car were empty. Two of the wholesome young fellows who pose for the glossy hair ads were there drinking highballs, and there was a scattering of the baldheads and streaked grays who had been calling porters George for thirty years.
    • Archie enters the club car. The reference to calling porters "George" is more Americana, see this[2], and is thematic. Chapter 1.
  • Few of us have enough wisdom for justice, or enough leisure for humanity.
    • Nero Wolfe, replying to Dina Laszio's appeal to justice and humanity
  • Nothing is simpler than to kill a man; the difficulties arise in attempting to avoid the consequences.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 3
  • If I offend by being curt, very well. Anyone has the privilege of offending who is willing to bear the odium.
    • Nero Wolfe to Raymond Liggett, chapter 5
  • 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
  • True, it is bad to stab a man in the back, but when one is in a hurry the niceties must sometimes be overlooked.
    • Jerome Berin, ranting about the murder, Chapter 15
Ronald McLeod illustrated "The Red Bull" for The American Magazine (December 1938)
Some Buried Caesar first appeared in abridged form in The American Magazine (December 1938), under the title "The Red Bull". The novel was published in book form in 1939, by Farrar & Rinehart.
  • "It's like this," I told her. "You will be very happy for a while, then you will take a long journey under water and will meet a bald-headed man sitting on some seaweed who you will think is William Beebe but who will begin talking to you in Russian. Not understanding Russian, you will take it for granted that you get the idea, but will discover to your horror that he was talking about something else. Give me the other hand to compare."
    • Archie Goodwin, asked by Lily Rowan what will happen, reads her palm, Chapter 3
  • 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
  • "What's the difference between a Catholic and a river that runs uphill?"

    She didn't know, and I told her...

    • Archie to Lily Rowan at lunch, "babbling," Chapter 6. The riddle was a frustration for Wolfe fans for years. Finally, Rex Stout admitted to his biographer that he had made it up and there was no answer.
  • "No." Lily was firm. "The fricassee with dumplings is made by a Mrs. Miller whose husband has left her four times on account of her disposition and returned four times on account of her cooking and is still there."

    ... The fricassee came, and the first bite, together with dumpling and gravy, made me marvel at the hellishness of Mrs. Miller's disposition, to drive a man away from that.

    • Archie and Lily at lunch, Chapter 6. Later, Archie recommends the fricassee to Wolfe.
Carl Mueller illustrated the abridged version of Over My Dead Body for The American Magazine (September 1939).
Over My Dead Body first appeared in abridged form in The American Magazine (September 1939). The novel was published in 1940 by Farrar & Rinehart.
  • 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
Carl Mueller illustrated "Sisters in Trouble," the abridged version of Where There's a Will that appeared in the May 1940 issue of The American Magazine.
Prior to its publication in 1940 by Farrar & Rinehart, Where There's a Will was abridged in the May 1940 issue of The American Magazine, under the title "Sisters in Trouble."
  • 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
  • The story had it that Noel Hawthorne's arrow which had accidentally struck his beautiful wife had plowed diagonally across from the brow to the chin, and what was left was there behind that veil—with, it was said, one eye working—and that was what I looked at. You couldn't help it. The gray veil was fastened to her hat and extended below her chin … She was medium-sized, with what would ordinarily be called a nice youthful figure, only with the veil and knowing why it was there, you didn't have the feeling of anything being nice. I sat and stared at it, trying to ignore an inclination to offer somebody a ten-spot to pull the veil up, knowing that if it was done I'd probably offer another ten-spot to get it pulled down again.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 2
Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States
The Silent Speaker is a Nero Wolfe detective novel 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
  • "We all take chances when we exchange words with other human beings."
    • Nero Wolfe giving a non-denial denial of being a barefaced liar, chapter 29
Too Many Women is a Nero Wolfe novel published by the Viking Press in 1947.
  • One good glance and I liked the job. The girls. ... At least half a thousand of them. and the general and overwhelming impression was of -- clean, young, healthy, friendly, spirited, beautiful and ready. I stood and filled my eyes, trying to look detached. It was an ocean of opportunity.
    A voice at my elbow said, "I doubt very much if there's a virgin in the room. Now if you'll come to my office..."
    • Archie Goodwin, interrupted in his girl-watching by Kerr Naylor, chapter 6
  • I'm Structural Metals, but right now I've got thirty-seven elephants in stock, over in Africa, and I can't get any other section to take them. My basic position is that elephants are non-metallic.
    • Mr. Rosenbaum, head of the Structural Metals section of the stock department, to Archie Goodwin, chapter 7
  • With him mowed down like that in the dead of night, and with that connection he had, we felt we owed it to the community to cover all angles in an effort to prevent any breath of scandal --
    • Lon Cohen, explaining the Gazette‍'‍s coverage of the Waldo Wilmot Moore hit-and-run, chapter 9
  • 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
  • "This is my department, Mr. Truett."
    "Not the part of it I'm in at any given moment. Yours is the stock department. Mine is the murder department."
    • Archie (known as "Peter Truett") tells Kerr Naylor off, chapter 18
  • "And that's your story and you like it, huh?"
    "Of course it is, it's the truth!"
    I would have liked to use assorted tortures on her in a well-equipped underground chamber.
    • Archie knows Gwynne Ferris is lying, chapter 18
  • 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
  • "What do we do when we have no clues? Do you know?"
    "No, sir."
    "We make one."
    • Wolfe concocts a scheme, chapter 28
And Be a Villain is a Nero Wolfe detective novel published by the Viking Press in 1948. It is the first of three novels with the villain Arnold Zeck.
  • 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 outbursts of emotion, not exercises of reason. I restrict my emotions to the activities for which they are qualified.
    • Professor Savarese, chapter 8
  • "Pfui." Wolfe was disgusted. "I have better use for my clients' money than buying information from policemen."
    • Wolfe to Inspector Cramer, chapter 12
The Second Confession is a Nero Wolfe detective novel published by the Viking Press in 1949. It is the second of three novels with the villain Arnold Zeck.
  • 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
  • It was a new technique for making a pass at a man, but it had obvious advantages, and anyway she had plenty of other ideas and wasn't being stingy with them. At lunch she had buttered rolls for him. Now I ask you.
    • Archie Goodwin, about Connie Emerson, chapter 3
  • 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 is a Nero Wolfe detective novel published by the Viking Press in 1950. It is the last of three novels with the villain Arnold Zeck.
  • 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 is a Nero Wolfe detective novel published by the Viking Press in 1951.
  • 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
  • He [Nathan Harris] was lying on the bed, reading a book entitled Twilight of the Absolute, which seemed a deep dive for a dick, but then, as Finch, he was a literary agent, so I refrained from comment.
    • Archie, describing the detective he has hired, chapter 15
  • "If the processes of the subconscious can be put into rational terms at all, I think mine were something like this: (a) I have murdered a man in cold blood; (b) I am a decent and humane person, as men go, certainly not vicious or depraved; therefore (c) the conventional attitude toward the act of murder is invalid and immoral."
    • From the letter, purportedly written by James Corrigan to Nero Wolfe, confessing his crimes, Chapter 19
Prisoner's Base is a Nero Wolfe detective novel 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
  • As you may know, he is not indifferent to those attributes of young women that constitute the chief reliance of our race in our gallant struggle against the menace of the insects.
    • Nero Wolfe, about Archie Goodwin, chapter 6
The Golden Spiders is a Nero Wolfe detective novel published by the Viking Press in 1953.
  • 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
Cijevna River, Montenegro
The Black Mountain is a Nero Wolfe detective novel published by the Viking Press in 1954.
  • 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 is a Nero Wolfe detective novel published in 1955 by the Viking Press.
  • ...Miss Tescher answered, "I suppose you know I am assistant director of research at Clock."

    "At least I know it now."

    "The publicity about the contest...was discussed at a conference this afternoon. I can tell you confidentially that Mr. Tite himself was there..."

    • Recorded by Archie Goodwin, Chapter 7
"Clock" Magazine is mentioned a few times in the series. It is a substitute name for Time Magazine. Wolfe once had his picture on the cover. Mr. "Tite" is Henry Luce (loose). Presumably Rex Stout had permission to play these name games.
  • 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 is a Nero Wolfe detective novel published in 1956 by the Viking Press.
  • At that time of day the courthouse corridors were full of lawyers, clients, witnesses, jurors, friends, enemies, relatives, fixers, bloodsuckers, politicians, and citizens.
    • Archie Goodwin, narrating, chapter 2
  • 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 is a Nero Wolfe detective novel 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
  • As I pushed the phone back Orrie asked, "What's an arquebus?"
    "Figure it out yourself. A combination of an ark and a bus. Amphibian."
    • Archie Goodwin, explaining the obvious to Orrie Cather, chapter 7.
  • I had seen two hundred and forty-seven girls it would have been fun to talk to but was too busy. I had seen about the same number of spots where a gun could be hid, but could find no one who had seen Roger Foote near any of them. None of them held a gun at the time I called, nor could I detect any trace of oil or other evidence that a gun had been there. One of them, a hole in a tree on the other side of the backstretch, was so ideal that I was tempted to hide my own gun in it.
    • Archie Goodwin, narrating his futile attempts to find the murder weapon at a racetrack frequented by Roger Foote, chapter 15
Champagne for One is a Nero Wolfe detective novel published by the Viking Press in 1958.
  • She danced cheerfully, and of course that was no good. You can't dance cheerfully. Dancing is too important. It can be wild or solemn or gay or lewd or art for art's sake, but it can't be cheerful. For one thing, if you're cheerful you talk too much.
    • Archie Goodwin, missing a dancing partner as good as Celia Grantham, chapter 3
  • 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 is a Nero Wolfe detective novel 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
  • ... Lily Rowan told me once that I am about as subtle as a sledge hammer — at a moment when her diction was not determined and controlled by rational processes in full consciousness — ...
    • Archie Goodwin, narrating, after pondering paragraphing, chapter 3
  • My status and function are whatever a given situation calls for, and the question who decides what it calls for is what occasionally creates an atmosphere in which Wolfe and I are not speaking.
    • Archie, narrating and deciding what to do with the piles of paper evidence on Wolfe's desk, chapter 3
  • Archie, if I could lie with your aplomb I would be an ambassador. You know women. You know quite well that one with eyes the color of that Miss Bonner and eyelashes of that length, her own, is a dangerous animal.
    • Fritz Brenner, telling Archie a thing or two, chapter 4
Too Many Clients is a Nero Wolfe detective novel 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
  • One of the brain's most efficient departments is the one that turns possibilities into probabilities, and probabilities into facts.
    • Archie Goodwin, after looking at Maria Perez's collection, chapter 11.
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
  • Of course you don't learn anything about people in general by walking around taking them in; you only learn things about this one or that one. I learned something that morning about a girl in a grey checked suit who caught her heel in a grating on Second Avenue in the Eighties. No girl I had ever known would have done what she did. Maybe no other girl in the world would. But I shouldn't have got started about walking.
    • Archie, Chapter 5. He never says what that girl did.
  • I don't know how a brain that is never used passes the time.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 8
Gambit is a Nero Wolfe detective novel 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
  • When the last trumpet sounds the Times will want to check with Gabriel himself, and for the next edition will try to get it confirmed by even Higher Authority.
    • Archie, after being pestered by the news media, Chapter 3
  • What she did was say, "All right" and head for the door, and as I followed her out and down the two flights I was reminding myself of the one basic rule for experts on females: confine yourself absolutely to explaining why she did what she has already done because that will save the trouble of explaining why she didn't do what you said she would.
    • Archie, commenting on Sarah Blount, Chapter 11
  • He could have gone as was to Peacock Alley [3] for a drink if he could have got past the guard at the door and on out.
    • Archie, concluding his description of Matthew Blount's clean and well-dressed appearance after twelve days in jail, Chapter 12
The Mother Hunt is a Nero Wolfe detective novel 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
A Right to Die is a Nero Wolfe detective novel 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 is a Nero Wolfe detective novel 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
  • Modern science was fixing it so that anybody can do anything but nobody can know what the hell is going on.
    • Archie Goodwin, as narrator, Chapter 4
  • Pfui. Are you a dunce, or do you take me for one?
    • Nero Wolfe to FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Wragg, chapter 12
  • Yes. I cannot put sense in a fool's brain. I have tried.
    • Nero Wolfe, responding to Rachel Bruner's question if there is anything he can't do.
Death of a Doxy is a Nero Wolfe detective novel 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 is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1968.
  • Trying to find a legal space at the curb would be like trying to find room for another kernel on an ear of corn...
    • Archie Goodwin, on parking a car in Manhattan, chapter 6
  • I accompanied him on the short walk back to his job, for a look at the main office of the Seaboard Bank and Trust Company from the outside, thanked him for the lunch, and spent ten minutes on the toughest job in New York, finding a vacant hack. I finally beat a guy with a limp to one.
    • Archie, after lunch with Bertram McCray, chapter 6
  • 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 is a Nero Wolfe detective novel published by the Viking Press in 1969.
  • Born in St. Louis in 1907, he had done all right and was now the owner and publisher of the St. Louis Star-Bulletin. Who's Who had no information about who was going to kill his son.
    • Archie Goodwin with some background information, chapter 1
  • 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
Please Pass the Guilt is a Nero Wolfe detective novel 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 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

Novellas and short stories

Carl Mueller illustrated "Bitter End" for The American Magazine (November 1940).
"Bitter End" is the first Nero Wolfe mystery novella by Rex Stout, originally published in the November 1940 issue of The American Magazine. The story first appeared in book form in 1977, in the posthumous limited-edition collection Corsage: A Bouquet of Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe. It was published in Death Times Three, a collection of Nero Wolfe novellas published by Bantam Books in 1985; this is the source for page references.
  • "The last man who spat at me," I said casually, "got three bullets in the heart before he hit the floor."
    • Archie Goodwin to Nero Wolfe, page 2
  • "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
  • 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
"Black Orchids" is a Nero Wolfe mystery novella first published in abridged form as "Death Wears an Orchid" in the August 1941 issue of The American Magazine. It was collected in Black Orchids, a Nero Wolfe double mystery published in 1942 by Farrar & Rinehart.
  • You are not Archie. Thank God. One Archie is enough.
    • Nero Wolfe, to Johnny Keems, chapter 7
"Cordially Invited to Meet Death" is a Nero Wolfe mystery novella first published in abridged form as "Invitation to Murder" in the April 1942 issue of The American Magazine. It first appeared in book form in Black Orchids, published by Farrar & Rinehart in 1942.
  • "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" is a Nero Wolfe mystery novella first published in abridged form in the December 1942 issue of The American Magazine. It first appeared in book form in the two-story collection Not Quite Dead Enough, published by Farrar & Rinehart in 1944.
  • "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" is a Nero Wolfe mystery novella first published in the August 1944 issue of The American Magazine. It first appeared in book form as the second novella in the collection Not Quite Dead Enough, published by Farrar & Rinehart in 1944.
  • "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
"Help Wanted, Male" is a Nero Wolfe short story first published in the August 1945 issue of The American Magazine. It first appeared in book form in the short-story collection Trouble in Triplicate, published by the Viking Press in 1949.
  • Use your brains, but give up the idea of renting mine.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 1
"Instead of Evidence" is a Nero Wolfe short story first published in the May 1946 issue of The American Magazine under the title "Murder on Tuesday". It first appeared in book form in the collection Trouble in Triplicate, published by the Viking Press in 1949.
  • Wolfe: "Did you word the receipt properly?"
    "No, sir. I worded it the way you told me to."
    • Wolfe and Archie butting heads about the job Wolfe just accepted, chapter 1
  • "Four capsules were found. Two are there in your drawer. One, as I told you, was used in a scientific experiment in Wolfe's office and damn near killed him. He's keeping the other one for the Fourth of July."
    • Archie, telling Inspector Cramer about the explosive capsules, chapter 9
  • 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 on Nero Wolfe, chapter 9
Stanley Ekman illustrated "Before I Die" for the April 1947 issue of The American Magazine.
"Before I Die" is a Nero Wolfe short story first published in the April 1947 issue of The American Magazine. It first appeared in book form in the collection Trouble in Triplicate, published by the Viking Press in 1949.
  • It was smack in the middle of the Great Meat Shortage [4], when millions of pigs and steers, much to the regret of the growers and slaughterers, had sneaked off and hid in order to sell their lives dear, and to Nero Wolfe a meal without meat was an insult. His temper had got so bad that I had offered to let him eat me, and it would be best to skip his retort.
    • Archie Goodwin, narrating background, chapter 1
  • "Your name's Goodwin," he told me impolitely, without overexerting any muscles.
    "Thanks," I thanked him. "How much do I weigh?"
    • Archie meets Dazy Perrit's gunsel, who (we learn later) is also named Archie, chapter 1
  • 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
Thornton Utz illustrated "Door to Death" for the June 1949 issue of The American Magazine.
"Door to Death" is a Nero Wolfe short story first published in the June 1949 issue of The American Magazine. It appeared in book form in the collection Three Doors to Death, published by the Viking Press in 1950.
  • So that wet December morning, tired and peevish and desperate, he had sent me to the garage for the car, and when I rolled up in front of the house there he was on the sidewalk, in his hat and overcoat and cane, grim and resolute, ready to do or die. Stanley making for Livingstone in the African jungle was nothing compared to Wolfe making for Krasicki in Westchester.
    • Archie Goodwin on the lengths Nero Wolfe has been driven to in finding an orchid nurse to take over for Theodore, chapter 2
  • What I wanted was to get my thumbs in a proper position behind Noonan's ears and bear down …
    • Archie Goodwin losing patience with Lieutenant Con Noonan of the State Police, chapter 4
  • " … and besides, women do not require motives that are comprehensible by any intellectual process."
    "You said it," Gus acquiesced feelingly. "They roll their own."
    • Nero Wolfe and Gus Treble, chapter 6
  • This is the inexorable miasma of murder.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 8
"The Squirt and the Monkey" is a Nero Wolfe short story first published as "See No Evil" in the August 1951 issue of The American Magazine. It first appeared in book form in the short-story collection Triple Jeopardy, published by the Viking Press in 1952.
  • There's nothing as safe as ignorance — or as dangerous.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 7
"Home to Roost" is a Nero Wolfe short story first published in the January 1952 issue of The American Magazine, under the title "Nero Wolfe and the Communist Killer". It first appeared in book form in the collection Triple Jeopardy, published by the Viking Press in 1952.
  • 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
"Christmas Party" is a Nero Wolfe short story first published as "The Christmas-Party Murder" in the January 4, 1957, issue of Collier's magazine. It first appeared in book form in the short-story collection And Four to Go, published by the Viking Press in 1958.
  • 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
Four photographs in Look magazine's April 1957 publication of "The Easter Parade Murder" hold the solution to the mystery.
"Easter Parade" is a Nero Wolfe short story first published as "The Easter Parade Murder" in the April 16, 1957, issue of Look magazine. It first appeared in book form in the collection And Four to Go, published by the Viking Press in 1958.
  • 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" is a Nero Wolfe short story first published as "The Labor Union Murder" in the July 9, 1957, issue of Look magazine. It first appeared in book form in the collection And Four to Go, published by the Viking Press in 1958.
  • 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" is a Nero Wolfe short story first published in the collection And Four to Go, published by the Viking Press in 1958.
  • Don't raise one brow like that. You know it disconcerts me.
    • Nero Wolfe to Archie Goodwin, chapter 3
"Frame-Up for Murder" is an expanded rewrite of "Murder Is No Joke" that was serialized in three issues of The Saturday Evening Post (June 21 – July 5, 1958). It is the only time Stout rewrote and expanded a story for a magazine. "Frame-Up for Murder" was collected for the first time in book form in the Bantam Books collection Death Times Three (1985).
  • 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
"Counterfeit for Murder" is a Nero Wolfe novella first serialized as "The Counterfeiter's Knife" in three issues of The Saturday Evening Post (January 14, 21 and 28, 1961). It first appeared in book form in the short-story collection Homicide Trinity, published by the Viking Press in 1962.
  • 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
"Assault on a Brownstone" is the title given to an early draft of the 1961 novella "Counterfeit for Murder" that was posthumously published in the short-story collection Death Times Three (1985). It was written January 22 – February 11, 1959.
  • Wolfe was standing over by the big globe, probably picking out a spot for me to be exiled to.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 3
"Death of a Demon" is a Nero Wolfe novella first serialized in three issues of The Saturday Evening Post (June 10, 17 and 24, 1961). It first appeared in book form in the collection Homicide Trinity, published by the Viking Press in 1962.
  • The subconscious is not a grave; it's a cistern.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 1
  • "When will a policeman come?"
    "It will probably be Cramer in person. You know how he'll react when he learns she was here. Say two hours, possibly sooner."
    "Will she report what she told me?"
    A corner of his mouth twitched. "That's why I put up with you; you could have answered with fifty words and you did it in one."
    "I've often wondered. Now tell me why I put up with you."
    "That's beyond conjecture. ..."
    • Wolfe and Goodwin conversing, chapter 3
  • "Of the ten thousand women I have fallen in love with, every single one of them knew it before I did."
    • Archie Goodwin to Wolfe, chapter 4
  • ...I suppose a DA has as much right to be a damfool as the people who voted for him.
    • Archie Goodwin, narrating, chapter 8
  • Wolfe's bellow would stop a tiger ready to spring.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 8
"Kill Now—Pay Later" is a Nero Wolfe mystery story first serialized in three issues of The Saturday Evening Post (December 9, 16 and 23–30, 1961). It first appeared in book form in the short-story collection Trio for Blunt Instruments, published by the Viking Press in 1964.
  • Wolfe's line was that a man who had been born in Greece, even though he had left at the age of six, should be familiar with the ancient glories of his native land, and he had been hammering away at Pete for forty months. That morning, as Wolfe swiveled his oversized chair, in which he was seated behind his desk, and Pete knelt and got his box in place, and I crossed to my desk, Wolfe demanded: "Who was Eratosthenes and who accused him of murder in a great and famous speech in four-oh-three B.C.?"
Pete, poising his brush, shook his head.
"Who?" Wolfe demanded.
"Maybe Pericles."
"Nonsense. Pericles had been dead twenty-six years. Confound it, I read parts of that speech to you last year. His name begins with L."
"No! The Athenian Lycurgus hadn't been born!" (Trio for Blunt Instruments, New York: Bantam Books, 2002, ch. 1, p. 3)
  • A man with an alibi is suspect ipso facto.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 5
  • 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
"Eeny Meeny Murder Mo" is a Nero Wolfe short story first published in the March 1962 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (#220). It first appeared in book form in the collection Homicide Trinity, published by the Viking Press in 1962.
  • 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
"Blood Will Tell" is a Nero Wolfe short story first published in the December 1963 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. It first appeared in book form in the collection Trio for Blunt Instruments, published by the Viking Press in 1964.
  • 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
  • The doorbell rang, and I went, again giving myself even money that it was Vance, and losing again. It was a girl, or woman, and she had a kind of eyes that I had met only twice before, once a woman and once a man. I have a habit, when it's a stranger on the stoop, of taking a five-second look through the one-way glass and tagging him or her, to see how close I can come. From inside, the view through the glass is practically clear, but from outside it might as well be wood. But she could see through. Of course she couldn't, but she was face-to-face with me, and her eyes, slanted up, had exactly the look they would have if she were seeing me. They were nice enough hazel eyes, but I hadn't liked it the other two times it had happened, and I didn't like it then. Not trying to tag her, I opened the door. (chapter 5)
  • ... a woman in the process of getting a divorce is apt to be skittish. She either thinks she has been swindled or she feels like a used car.
    • Archie, to confused and lovesick Martin Kirk, chapter 10
"Murder Is Corny" is a Nero Wolfe short story first published in April 1964 in the collection Trio for Blunt Instruments (Viking Press). It was the last Nero Wolfe novella to be written, and the last published in Stout's lifetime.
  • 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
  • No. Millions of American women, and some men, commit that outrage every summer day. They are turning a superb treat into mere provender. Shucked and boiled in water, sweet corn is edible and nutritious; roasted in husk in the hottest possible oven for forty minutes, shucked at the table, and buttered and salted, nothing else, it is ambrosia. No chef's ingenuity and imagination have ever created a finer dish. American women should themselves be boiled in water.
    • Nero Wolfe to Inspector Cramer, chapter 1
  • ... the weapon was a piece of two-inch galvanized iron pipe sixteen and five-eighths inches long, threaded male at one end and female at the other, old and battered. Easy to hide under a coat. Where it came from might be discovered by one man in ten hours, or by a thousand men in ten years.
    • Archie, narrating, chapter 2
  • "By God. Talk about stubborn egos." Cramer shook his head. "That break you got on the carton. You know, any normal man, if he got break like that, coming down just in the nick of time, what any normal man would do, he would go down on his knees and thank God. Do you know what you'll do? You'll thank you. I admit it would be a job for you to get down on your knees, but—" (chapter 6)

Other works


The Nero Wolfe Cookbook

"You and your Nero Wolfe recipes!"
Cartoon by Stan Hunt for The American Magazine (June 1949)
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


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