Tuesday, February 15, 2011

At Wolfe's Door

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of At Wolfe's Door (James A. Rock, 2003).

Before I said goodbye to Nero Wolfe in these reviews, I did want to let any of my readers who are following my detective fiction reviews or are curious about the character know about this neat little book. Written by J. Kenneth van Dover, a professor of English at Lincoln University and published by a small company in Maryland, it's a guidebook to the series, with spoiler-free synopses, details and analysis of all the Wolfe novels and short stories, and handier, to my mind, than using Wikipedia to track down information. It also contains material about Rex Stout's other detective characters and critical essays, including a really fascinating piece looking at connections between Stout's corpus and that of Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason.

While it doesn't touch on ancillary material like the A&E series or the Robert Goldsborough novels beyond quickie lists in an appendix, it accomplishes its modest goals very well and is penned in a light, engaging tone that's perfect for either study or briefly finding facts. If you enjoy Rex Stout's world, I'd certainly recommend you give this a look. I just wish Wolfe was more popular with a modern audience to warrant a more intensive study guide.

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