ARCHIE GOES HOME
A Nero Wolfe Adventure
By Robert Goldsborough
As we’ve said in previous reviews, series such as this one appeal to readers not so much for the actual mysteries, though it is fun to try and outguess the detectives before the finale, but rather for the characters themselves. Aside from the team of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, no other pair of fictional sleuths has ever captured the imagination of readers in such an overwhelming way as that of Nero World and his legman, Archie Goodwin. During the course of his chronicling of their adventures, creator/writer Rex Stout doled out very few facts regarding Archie’s background. Now, much to our delight, Robert Goldsborough, having picked up the series with the blessings of Stout’s daughter, has set about filling in that history.
He began that task with two previous books, “Archie Meets Nero Wolfe – A Prequel” and “Archie in the Crosshairs.” Both excellent and recommended. He completes that trilogy with “Archie Goes Home” and does so with humor and panache.
The tale begins when Archie receives a call from his Aunt Edna, a local busybody who collects gossip like a bibliophile collects first editions. It seems a local banker has committed suicide after the death of his wife. But a young female reporter believes the man was murdered by one of the half-a-dozen people the man cruelly dealt with in the past. Obviously, Aunt Edna is hoping Archie will come home and look into the matter. As it turns out, things are slow in New York and Wolfe agrees it would be an advantageous time for Archie to take a vacation and visit his mother.
Once back in the sleepy little Ohio burg, Archie soon finds himself corralled by both Aunt Edna and Katie Paget, the lovely and ambitious newshound. Between them, they provide him with a list of the most likely people harboring animus towards the late Mr. Mulgrew; the dead banker. And so begins another formulaic tale with Archie methodically interviewing all these suspects while at the same time irritating the local sheriff. The joy of the tale is Archie’s Mom, Marjorie Goodwin, a truly wonderful character with plenty of wit, charm, and homegrown intelligence. The moments with mother and son are warm and loving and offer up a great deal of insight as to Archie’s own nature; his loyalty and his compassion for others.
As I said at the start, these books aren’t so much about the mysteries as the people. And still, Goldsborough use of Archie’s truly unique talent in solving the crime is totally apropos. “Archie Goes Home” is a delight. Do we really need to say any more?