The Wolfe Pack, the organization of Nero Wolfe readers and fans, holds bi-monthly meetings at a pub in New York City's midtown area, where members gather for dinner and coversation about various Wolfean topics. Last night, the group met to discuss one of my favorite books, "Death of a Doxy." In the book, one of Wolfe's regular assistant detectives, Orrie Cather, is arrested by police for the murder of a woman - the titular "Doxy" - whose bills are being paid (to put it politely) by a business tycoon. Said tycoon is terrified that his relationship with the woman will be revealed, and he is less concerned with seeing Wolfe find a way to clear Orrie and find the real murderer than he is with getting Wolfe to guarantee that the tycoon's name is never made public.
I am fond of it not so much because of the mystery - halfway through the book, it's clear who committed the murder - but because of a marvelous character named Julie Jaquette. She is one of the most memorable characters in any Nero Wolfe story. She's a cabaret singer, and Wolfe makes her the centerpiece of his strategem which ultimately succeeds in exposing the real killer while keeping the tycoon's name out of the case completely. Julie Jaquette not only manages to be one of the VERY few women in the entire Wolfean library to call Wolfe by his first name and get away with it, she is also treated to a personalized tour of the orchids by Wolfe himself. And he pays her what may be the most amazing tribute in any of the books: "I have the impression that your opinion of our fellow beings and their qualities is somewhat similar to mine." And he stands to say goodbye when she leaves - something he almost never does for anyone, man or woman.
At the Wolfe Pack gathering, our discussion centered around a video of "Death of a Doxy," which is contained in Nero Wolfe - The Complete Classic Whodunit Series, a compilation of some of the excellent teleplays created for the A&E Network based on Stout's books. Timothy Hutton plays Archie and Maury Chaykin is Wolfe, and the supporting cast is outstanding. Special marks go to actress Kari Matchett, who played Julie Jacquette. As Wolfe would say, satisfactory. Most of us were amazed at how faithfully "Death of a Doxy" was translated to the screen, with most of the dialogue and much of Archie's narration taken word-for-word from the book. I hadn't seen the A&E shows when they first ran, a decade ago. I'll have to see more of them.
This was my first visit to a Wolfe Pack gathering. I'll be back.