Browsed by
Category: Fiction

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 37

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 37

So, in 2020, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Horstmann. I have already re-posted days one through thirty-six. Here is thirty seven (April 27). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.

Day Thirty Seven – 2020 Stay at Home

I was looking through some old notebooks today and came across this gem from a case I never finished writing up. There have been times when I think Inspector Cramer really did want to lock me up forever, and this was one of them.

**********

The doorbell rang. More than once, I thought that some day Wolfe would put a button under his desk which would cause the doorbell to ring. He would push it in the middle of one of my eloquent speeches, and when I was at the door checking on our caller, he would hightail it to the elevator and escape. I suspect the reasons he hasn’t yet are because, one; it might work the first time, but I’d never answer the door again. And two; unless a woman is displaying her emotions, Wolfe doesn’t hurry from the office for anything.

I got up and went into the hall. I recognized the familiar silhouette through the one-way window. Normally, I would leave the chain on and test the weather when Inspector Cramer of Homicide West was on the stoop. But I figured Wolfe could use a little bothering by someone not named Archie Goodwin, so I opened up.

Read More Read More

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 36

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 36

So, last year, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Horstmann. I have already re-posted days one through thirty. Here is thirty six (April 26). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.

Day Thirty Six – 2020 Stay at Home

Theodore took a cab to do some grocery shopping for his sister. I told Fritz to make sure he took a long shower when he got back, and to not touch anything, or spread his clothes around. We didn’t need him bringing anything into the house from his day out.

The Giants chose a tackle in the third round, on day two of the draft. After taking a tackle in the first round (with the fourth overall pick). That team makes me shake my head from the draft through the final game. Said final game rarely taking place in the playoffs.

After lunch, I asked Wolfe if he wanted to play pool. He ignored me.

Fritz didn’t go out today, so we played a few games of Yahtzee in the front room. His accent is almost adorable when he says ‘Yaht-zeeeee!’

 

Read More Read More

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 34 and 35

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 34 and 35

So, in 2020, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Horstmann. I have already re-posted days one through thirty. Here are days thirty four (April 24) and thirty five (April 25). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.

DAY THIRTY FOUR – 2020 Stay At Home

Don’t worry – I’m not going to start mixing bleach into my milk.

Felix called Wolfe last night. Rusterman’s gets its beef from a small group of cattle farmers upstate. So does Wolfe. The meat packing plant they all use got walloped with a virus outbreak, and it has closed down indefinitely. I’d hears some big pork plants out west were running into this problem, too. Felix was scrambling to line up a new supplier.

“Of course, there may be a slight decrease in quality, in the short term.”

“Nonsense!” Wolfe bristled at the mere thought.

“But Mister Wolfe. We will do our best, of course. But we need meat. If we tell everyone ‘No’ until we find a replacement of equal quality, we will have no meat to serve!”

“Then quit calling me and find someone. And keep me informed.”

Read More Read More

An Anthology for Anthologists: Continuum by Roger Elwood

An Anthology for Anthologists: Continuum by Roger Elwood


Continuum 1-4 (Berkley Medallion paperback editions, 1975-76). Covers by Vincent Di Fate

The accolade “anthologist” is not easily obtained. One can only imagine the effort spent splicing different elements into a cohesive anthology that sits well, and with a theme that attracts buyers.

Roger Elwood (1943-2007) most definitely earned that title, having put together 64 mostly science fiction anthologies between 1964 and 1980. Like many of his peers, he was also an author who published a small number of fiction novels and short stories, not to mention editing the short-lived Odyssey magazine (1976).

This article is not a celebration of Mr. Elwood’s career, though. I want to look at an intriguing oddity from the the past century, a 4-volume anthology series he edited titled Continuum.

Read More Read More

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: A Matter of Identity

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: A Matter of Identity

I’m back! What? Really? Well, I’m sure SOMEBODY noticed I took a four-month hiatus from my weekly column here at Black Gate. Anywhoo… Last year, I wrote a Nero Wolfe pastiche for The Wolfe Pack fan group. It’s THE place for fans of the corpulent detective. I took “By His Own Hand” – an Alphabet Hicks short story written by Rex Stout – made it a solo case for Archie Goodwin, and reworked it a bit. And… I added one of my favorite pulp ‘PIs’, W.T. Ballard’s Hollywood studio troubleshooter, Bill Lennox (whom I wrote about here at Black Gate). Below is that story, which takes place during Nero Wolfe’s own hiatus. As always, I do my best to emulate Stout’s writing style, and his characters. Writing as Archie is something I enjoy doing very much.

A Matter of Identity – Bob Byrne (based on a short story by Rex Stout)

I

I was sitting at my office desk, eating a sandwich from Mike’s Deli, which was only a couple blocks around the corner. Growing up, I hadn’t been crazy about fried bologna, but that place did it right — with a mustard even Wolfe would approve of. ‘Wolfe’ being Nero Wolfe, my former employer. It had been six months since Arnold Zeck forced him into decamping from the brownstone in the middle of the night. Never one to sit around — and I certainly wasn’t going to be Lily’s kept man — I hung out my shingle as an independent private investigator and took a small office on the tenth floor of a downtown high-rise. I didn’t have any need for a secretary. I could handle the paperwork, and I had plenty of experience paying bills and typing up reports. Maybe if business got too much to handle, I’d bring someone in part-time. But that didn’t look to be a problem just yet.

Read More Read More

A Deleted Excerpt from Immortal Muse, Revealed and Annotated by Stephen Leigh

A Deleted Excerpt from Immortal Muse, Revealed and Annotated by Stephen Leigh

Left, Paperback cover (artist unknown); Right cover art by Tim O’Brien.

A Review of Immortal Muse & Interview with Stephen Leigh Complements this Excerpt.

 

Jeanne Hébuterne / Amedeo Modigliani

with commentary by Stephen Leigh, the author

 

To the reader:

This abandoned and unfinished long draft section may not make a great deal of sense unless you’ve already read IMMORTAL MUSE (DAW Books 2014), an alternate history fantasy novel about exactly what the title implies: a genuine muse who is immortal, who also happens to have been Perenelle Flamel (b. October 13, 1320), the wife of the alchemist Nicolas Flamel.

But here’s a thumbnail sketch of the plot.

Read More Read More

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 32 and 33

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 32 and 33

So, last year, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Horstmann. I have already re-posted days one through thirty. Here are days thirty two (April 21) and thirty three (April 23). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.

DAY THIRTY TWO – 2020 Stay At Home

I saw the death totals today. New York is number one, hands down. We’ve had more deaths than the next fourteen states combined. Seven out of every hundred people confirmed to have the virus, die from it. So I won’t be taking any taxi rides just yet. Or hopping on the subway.

While I admit I miss my twice-a-week session at the barbershop – preferably on days without a cop murder on site – I don’t see the need to increase somebody else’s risk of dying because I’m not happy with my sideburns. I do look forward to getting shoe shines again, though I am more than capable of doing my own.

And by the way: don’t think that Lily and I are drifting apart. We call every other day. I just don’t see the need to jot that down regularly.

Read More Read More

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: 2020 Stay at Home – Day 31

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: 2020 Stay at Home – Day 31

So, last year, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Horstmann. I have already re-posted days one through thirty. Here is day thirty one (April 20). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.

Day Thirty One – 2020 Stay at Home (SaH)

During breakfast, Fritz told me that some items were becoming scarce, or even no longer available. Granted, we didn’t exactly buy off-the-shelf goods from chain supermarkets. But it was inevitable that some things would become harder to find. Especially since Wolfe’s taste ran to imported items. Fritz assured me we were well-stocked with Greek honey.

Milk can still be found, but he did say that once in while he might have to try two or three stores. I thanked him for his efforts to keep calcium supplies up. He said that with more and more meat processing plant workers getting sick, fresh meat was soon going to become more scarce. I told him I knew that he’d do his best, but Wolfe would just have to adapt, like the rest of us. He certainly would complain about it, though.

Read More Read More

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: 2020 Stay at Home – Day 30

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: 2020 Stay at Home – Day 30

So, last year, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Hortsmann. I have already re-posted days one through twenty-nine. Here is day thirty (April 19). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.

DAY THIRTY– 2020 Stay at Home

Saul called after dinner. I took my coffee into the front room and talked to him from there. I made a mental note to ask him about the online poker game. “Need a professional to step in and bail you out on that bank job? My rates are very reasonable.”

“I’ll keep you in mind if I need to farm out any work to the minors.”

“Phsaw. Fred can handle those. What are you up to? Done with the bank thing?”

“That wasn’t too tough. I’ve taken this week off and stayed in the house. Good thing I don’t have to tail anybody. There’s not much cover out there.

I laughed. The current environment would definitely challenge his tailing skills, which were better than anybody else’s that I knew.

“How is Mister Wolfe doing?”

Read More Read More

Revealing the Cover — and an Excerpt — from Robert V. S. Redick’s Sidewinders

Revealing the Cover — and an Excerpt — from Robert V. S. Redick’s Sidewinders

We’re big fans of Robert V. S. Redick here at Black Gate. I’ve lost count of how many of his books our staff has enthusiastically reviewed over the years but… whew, it’s a lot. That’s why we’re so excited at the impending release of Sidewinders, the second volume in The Fire Sacraments series (following Master Assassins, which we covered — you know it! — right here back in 2018).

As if we weren’t excited enough already, Black Gate website editor emeritus C.S.E. Cooney sent us this blurb for the book and I have to tell you, it wound us up pretty good. Have a look.

Sidewinders. I love this book, goddamnit. Robert V. S. Redick gives a fantasy reader everything her fiendish heart craves: plagues, prophets, demonic possessions, a desperate dash through desert dunes, giant spiders, giant cats, creepy children, plenty of vulgarity and sex, and an all-too-brief glimpse of paradise. So sure, if you like that kind of thing, go for it. Read this book. It’s for you. But wait, there’s more. For your not-so-average fantasy reader, your not-so-run-of-the-mill genre-lover, I beg you, look to Sidewinders. For it will give you ambiguity and delicacy. It will not spare you of its irony — and, oh, such irony! Its pages will impart so profound and aching an empathy that it just might leap off the page and follow you into your daily life. There is such courage in Robert V. S. Redick’s Sidewinders — such courage and fury and passion and hope. Truly a breathtaking work.

—C.S.E. Cooney, author of the forthcoming Saint Death’s Daughter, on Sidewinders

Talos Press will be publishing Sidewinders on July 6, 2021. Wunderkind PR were kind enough to send us a high-resolution sneak peek of the cover to share with you — and also a tasty excerpt from Chapter One of the book.

Without further ado — check out the gorgeous cover, featuring artwork by Mack Sztaba!

Read More Read More