This Nero Wolfe novel is the final in the fictional timeline and the last written by Stout. It is set in 1974 with references to Nixon, Ford and Watergate. This is a little weird as I always picture Archie and Wolfe as creatures of the 30s and 40s. If Archie was hired in 1930 and must have been at least 23, then in 1974 Archie would be 67, and the older Fritz and Wolfe are still alive and kicking in 1974? Oh well, you have to suspend disbelief for this timeline. Nevertheless the characters and relationships are at their best, the writing is excellent with lots of wit and detail, and the story is interesting with unexpected twists and a killer ending. The narration, as always, is excellent.
This is a must read for any lover of Nero Wolfe, but don’t make it your first of the series, or even your tenth. This should be one of the last read, as it will be more enjoyable if you know all the characters really well. This book is one of my all-time favorites of the series.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
This was Rex Stout’s last Nero Wolfe mystery, written around 1974 or ‘75. While I never read a bad Nero Wolfe book, some are better than others, and this may have been his finest work—for several reasons (that I don’t entirely want to spell out, to avoid saying too much).
However, it is fair to say that in this last work, Stout allowed Wolfe to nudge himself just a tiny bit more into displaying human feelings than the great man usually allowed himself to show. And listening to it, knowing this was Stout’s (and Nero Wolfe’s) swan song, so to speak, made the entire book seem more precious. I thought I had read the entire series, way back when, but somehow I had never read this—so it was a double pleasure for me.
One of the somewhat jarring things about it was hearing references to more modern security and phone systems, etc, than we read about in the main body of work. Even the extensive references to Nixon made it feel as though it was displaced in “Archie Goodwin” time. (Archie always seemed the archetypal youthful sidekick detective, from approximately Post WWII time frame, while Nero Wolfe felt more ageless to me). And in this last book, speaking through Nero Wolfe, it seemed as though Rex Stout was allowing some personal political opinions to come out in a strong way—something I don’t recall so much before.
And the ending—I sure didn’t see it coming (though I might have, had I thought about it, since I have read the continuing set of NW mysteries, by Robert Goldsborough). To anyone who is unfamiliar with this last book, as I was, just allow yourself to settle in for a powerful listening experience! If you have never read a Nero Wolfe book before, don’t begin with this one. Let this truly be your end experience of this series, as it will mean a lot more!
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Well it doesn't usually make any difference what order you read the Nero Wolfe series of books in, this one should be read last no matter what.
It was the last book that Rex Stout wrote and published, shortly before he died.
and it puts a little bowtie on some character arcs that had been going on for many years.
Some of the later Rex Stout written Nero Wolfe books, include references that date them more than some of the older books. He included more 60s and early 70s jargon, and made references to events that were correct in the news, not just in passing, but often over and over again, and sometimes (as here), it had something to do with the plot.
Nevertheless, at least for this book, it doesn't get in the way of a very enjoyable read, whether reading the text version, or listening to the audio version.
I would definitely put this one in my top 10 list. I don't think I would ever put it in my top three, or maybe even top five.
However, it's when I do read and listen to over and over again.
I know this is getting redundant and my reviews about this series, but Michael Prichard's performance here is typically top notch. Even the worst of this series (which is better than some of the best of many others), is worth listening too many times just because of Prichard's excellent reading.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
If you are a Nero Wolf fan this is a must read! Extremely well read a pleasure to listen to!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Enjoyed it, Always do! I guess you could say I'm a " Nerohaulic". I have read them, watched them, and now am listening to them.
The reader is always excellent. He, I believe has read if not all, most. His voice for Nero and Archie are perfect! This one has to be early because Nero leaves the house and actually goes to jail! Well must add since I listened again and loved it just as much, I learned this was the last of the Rex Stout " Nero Wolf" books. Although that is a surprise he did leave an opening for them to begin again and the author given permission from his family to continue the stories is excellent.
I did not see that coming. This story has so many twists and turns that I couldn't keep up. I felt like Kramer in the red chair at the end of the book.
A favorite that I find myself listening or reading every year. Classic Nero and a fabulous follow up novel!
A final novel to a tremendous series that thows a twist at the reader that will shock and amaze.
What did you love best about A Family Affair?
Reading a Rex Stout novel is a visit with old friends. Wolfe and Archie, Fritz and Cramer, and the rest, everyone is in top form here. I give it 4 starts rather than 5 because I didn't care for the ending (no spoilers here). Still, it is a delight.
Have you listened to any of Michael Prichard’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
No. However, I'll be listening to more.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
Foe Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, this time it is personal!
Any additional comments?
If you don't know this series, you really should try it. The relationships between the characters trumps the mystery element and thus, the books hold up to repeated readings.
Is there anything you would change about this book?
I did not like that one of the companions and helper of years of association turned out to be bad. I wish I could return this book. Very unhappy with the story.
Would you ever listen to anything by Rex Stout again?
Was A Family Affair worth the listening time?
0 of 1 people found this review helpful