Monday, March 30, 2009

A New Obsession

Meg thinks I'm addicted to tea. However, that was sooo yesterday.

My newest time consumer is reading Nero Wolfe books. Written in the 1950's by Rex Stout, these books describe cases of the New York private investigator, Mr. Wolfe. Mr. Wolfe is an eccentric fellow. He has expensive tastes: gourmet food and exotic orchids feed his fancy. He weighs 300 pounds and hates to leave his house. Really, he is quite obnoxious, except in his uncanny way of piecing together a murder scene. The cases are described by Archie, Mr. Wolfe's observant, witty assistant who does all the legwork for Mr. Wolfe.

I was first introduced to these books by my father-in-law, and I was a little skeptical at first. A great detective I haven't heard of yet? I mean, as a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey, Poirot, Miss Marple, and Father Brown, surely if there is another great detective out there, I would know about him. And I hadn't heard of Nero Wolfe.

As a reader, it is always so comforting to find once again that you are ignorant in this way.

However, there is one thing that makes reading the Nero Wolfe books difficult. They are hard to find. Most of them were printed in the 50's, and they aren't quickly being reprinted. The main branch of the Boston Public Library has ZERO circulating copies. Our local branch is a little better, with a few paperbacks and a foot of hardbacks. But with 50 published books, that leaves a lot of holes!

Hence, my recent impulse purchase. The other day while wasting time online, I decided to go to ebay and see if I could find any Nero Wolfe books. In the ebay fashion, a listing popped up at the top of the screen: Lot of seven Nero Wolfe books, closing in 4 mins 32 seconds. Current bid: $0.99. WELL! Seven books for a dollar? I can do better than that! I logged in as fast as I could and placed a bid for $5. Yeah - against all my better judgement about ebay. Read the product description carefully! Check to see how much they're charging for shipping! Look around to see if it's really a good deal! Etc! Etc! Fortunately, the whole situation didn't turn out too badly. My books came in the mail a few days ago, and five of them really were Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout.

And, in my defense, my obsession is cheaper than my husband's latest:

12 comments:

Trespasser said...

VAHgner and PuCHEEni? Wow, kudos to Brian for classing up the joint. When we lived together it was Eurythmics and R.E.M. I don't know which was the worse crime.

Sarah said...

So what were the other two books?

Melanie said...

Jem - Brian completed his Eurythmics collection, so he had to move on to something else.

Sarah - One was another book by Rex Stout, another was a "Nero Wolfe" book by some other author who thought the series oughtn't to have ended. Unfortunately, Rex Stout did not write a last book to be published posthumously like Agatha Christie did.

sufferingsummer said...

AH this makes me so excited for Library day next week...I can't wait to see if I can get my hands on any...seeing as I love all those same detectives you mentioned!
I have a love hate relationship with ebay but to me it sounds like you got a hit on that one;)

deanna said...

Tim has watched a lot of Nero Wolfe videos (were they BBC? something like that). If I get in the mood for mysteries again sometime, I'll look for the books.

Steph said...

Tea AND detectives - a perfect pairing!

Axon said...

Oh Mel. Way to tap into the comforting things in life! This post made me happy and cozy! And thank you for the new author! In return I offer what Katy Davis terms "potato chip" mysteries...they aren't quite as wholesome perhaps as the beloved classics, but tasty nonetheless, and you definitely can't read just one. PD James, of course, and Ruth Rendell and Ian Rankin are all from the good old UK. Elizabeth George is from California but sets all her books in Britain and does it well-they are pretty darn risque sometimes but SO addicting. And finally one American writer, Micheal Connelly...his LA is almost as interesting as Rankin's Edinburgh. (And I don't want to bug about coming to visit us but it does cross my mind about daily....)

Trespasser said...

Just for curiosity's sake, you should check out Anne Perry, a murder mystery novelist who herself was a convicted killer by age 17. I've never read her work, but it'd be interesting to see her mindset.

Melanie said...

Thanks for the new leads, Axon! And don't worry - I think of coming to visit you too. But first, I need to figure out how to have money without having to work. I am almost out of vacation time for the year.

Jem - Funny, Brian and I were talking about Anne Perry's background and mystery-writing-career just a few weeks ago! Yes, we should both give her a try.

yellowinter said...

we should go see an opera together. Wagner is a bit much for me, but would love to see another Mozart or an Italian opera. Been too long...

parTea lady said...

I love quirky detectives and have read some of the authors you mentioned. My favorite contemporary detective is Mr. Monk in the tv series (also a couple of books). I have enjoyed some of the Poirot movies as well.

You have aroused my interest in the Nero Wolfe novels - I'll check out my library system.

Sarah D. said...

I have tried reading Nero Wolfe but that didn't work out for me after three different books. So I started to listen to them on CD. I loved it.
There is also an A&E production of the books.