Wow—2 chances to talk about Nero Wolfe in less than a month? Say what you will about 2020, there are some really nice things going on, too.
In the same vein as the 2018 compilation that he co-edited, <b>The Misadventures of Ellery Queen</b>, Pachter (with the blessing of Stout's daughter), Pachter presents just what the title promises: a collection of short pieces featuring takes on Nero Wolfe (and, generally, Archie Goodwin).
There are three introductory essays—one by Otto Penzler; one by Stout's daughter, Rebecca Stout Bradbury; and then one from Pachter (which served as a typical introduction). All three of these pieces were a pleasure to read, but obviously, Bradbury's is the standout for sentimental reasons.
Then we move into pastiches, although some felt more like parodies to me—but why quibble? The first entry just didn't work for me, and almost put me off the project as a whole. But, it's Wolfe, so as much as I say "almost"—there's no chance that'd stick. Thankfully, the second entry more than made up for it, as did the rest. A personal highlight came from Pachter reprinting the first chapter of <b>Murder in E Minor</b>, Robert Goldsborough's first Wolfe novel—I appreciated the reminder that I did really like his work at one point. (I wish something from William L. DeAndrea's Lobo Blacke/Quinn Booker books had made it in here)
The next section featured a handful of parodies. By and large, I enjoyed this part, but I would've appreciated a bit more subtlety with many of the works. The story "Julius Katz and the Case of Exploding Wine" was simply fantastic—I will be tracking down more of these stories by Dave Zeltserman as soon as I can (I have a browser tab open at the moment for an e-store with the collections).
The final section, "Potpourri," was my favorite. It included things like a story about a circus' Fat Woman doing a fine Nero Wolfe impression (and was a pretty clever story even without that); Pachter's short story about a young man named for Wolfe, "Sam Buried Caesar," which was utterly charming; and a scene from Joseph Goodrich's stage adaptation of <b>Might as Well Be Dead</b>. The highlight of this section (and possibly the entire book) was a little story called "The Damned Doorbell Rang," about a couple who used to live next to Wolfe's Brownstone on West 35th (obviously on the opposite side from Doc Vollmer), who didn't realize who they lived next to, nor appreciate the goings-on in the brownstone. An inspired idea that was executed wonderfully.
As with almost every compilation ever assembled, there were a lot of high highs and very low lows in this one—and most readers will likely disagree with what I'd put in either category. But I can't imagine any Wolfe reader not finding more than enough in this book to consider any time spent with it a win. The writers all clearly had fun with the subject matter, and it's infectious. Pachter has speculated about doing another collection of Wolfean tidbits. If he does, I know I'll be more than ready to grab it.
For a lot more about the book—the background, more information about some of the entries/authors/whatnot—check out <a href="https://likethewolfe.com/2020/04/11/the-misadventures-of-nero-wolfe-josh-pachter-episode-10/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Episode 10 of <b>Like the Wolfe</b> podcast</a>. It's a fun episode.