RE: RARA-AVIS: Unrelated question:Hardboiled Mystery -- the health and welfare of ...

Andy Hughes (
Fri, 17 Jul 1998 16:48:56 -0500 >>I started wondering... Is Ellery Queen a kind of cozy? Is Nero Wolfe is
I don't know enough about Queen to comment, but the Wolfe series has
been a favorite of mine since about the age of 13, or for 18 years. Most
critics, and I tend to agree with them on this, see the Wolfe series as
a combination of the cozy and hardboiled styles. Where Wolfe most
certainly fit the criteria of a cozy (except for his licensed,
professional status and very large fees) and the murders in the series
tended not to take place on the mean streets but in corporate offices
and drawing rooms, the series narrator (and real main character), Archie
Goodwin, gave the series its tough man-of-action hardboiled element (him
and the brownstone regulars, particularly Saul Panzer). First objection,
I know, is that Goodwin was not a loner; true, he chose to depend upon
Wolfe for employment, but as the Zeck trilogy showed, he could also be
his own man, and his non-committal affair with Lily Rowan suggests a
loner personality that's capable of limited social intercourse (pun
intended). Rex Stout, the author, was an openly political writer,
injecting the series with his own thoughts on WWII, the Red Scare, J.
Edgar Hoover, Eastern European civil wars, Watergate and other subjects
far removed from food and orchids.

In short, Rex Stout produced a hybrid of the two, and depending upon the
reader's expectations, the series could easily be taken solely as a cozy
because of Wolfe's exaggerated role.

>Joseph M. Johnston, Ph.D.
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