Goldsborough’s 11th pastiche, Stop the Presses! A Nero Wolfe Mystery, brings to life Rex Stout’s beloved sleuths, Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.
What appeals to you about Nero and Archie?
With other master detectives, like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, the sidekick seems sometimes dim. Not so here. Stout created two very smart guys, one cerebral and sedentary, the other brash and quick-witted. They play off each other beautifully, each one supplementing the other’s shortcomings. I took to these stories from the first. I liked the byplay between Nero and Archie, and also all the details about the brownstone and Nero’s idiosyncrasies and rigid schedule.
When did you first read the books?
Probably in the late 1940s or very early 1950s. My mother was a great fan of these stories, which she read as serializations in the old American Magazine and in the Saturday Evening Post. She recommended them to me in part because they contained very little overt violence, swearing, or sex.
How did you come to write your own?
When Rex Stout died in 1975, I showed his newspaper obituary to my mother, who said, “Now there aren’t going to be any more Nero Wolfe books.” I thought, maybe there could be one more, and I began writing a Wolfe story for her. I finished Murder in E Minor in time for Christmas, dedicated it to my mother, and gave it to her as a leather-bound typescript. She was delighted, and for eight years, well beyond her death, it remained a book written for only one person. The Stout estate liked the way I handled the characters and story in Murder in E Minor, and they—along with publisher Bantam Books—felt the publication of a new Nero Wolfe book would revitalize the backlist of Stout stories, which it did. The hardest part has always been developing a whodunit plot that makes all of the suspects seem more or less equal as potential murderers.
How did you get the nerve to write how Archie and Nero met?
Rex Stout never gave readers much of a backstory, and doing a book about their meeting had always fascinated me. In writing my prequel, Archie Meets Nero Wolfe, I used every reference, however brief, throughout the long series as to how Archie happened to come to New York and what some of their early cases were. I set the book in 1930, which would be roughly consistent with the timeline in the Stout books. The first Wolfe mystery, Fer-de-Lance, came out in 1934. I pitched the prequel through my agent, and Otto Penzler jumped on the idea.