A daily note on some event in the history of mystery fiction.
Friday, February 19, 2016
2/19/1951 Murder By The Book begins
February 19, 1951. This date sees the beginning of Murder By The Book, Rex Stout's fourteenth novel about the fat orchid-hoarding genius private eye, Nero Wolfe. Technically there is one earlier scene, set in January, but we all know the real action doesn't start until somebody offers Wolfe a fee. That someone is John Wellman, a Peoria businessman whose daughter was run over and killed.
The solution depends in part on Wolfe's phenomenal memory, both for names and for books. It is the only book in which Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's trusty assistant, leaves New York for Los Angeles. Naturally, it rains the entire time he is there.