Quotations:Three Bullets

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by Alan Vanneman (2008)
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About Three Bullets

Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin are ageless, as all fans of the classic, 47-volume mystery series by Rex Stout well know. The age of the two principal characters (and the rest of the regular cast) never changes, while five decades (1930s to 1970s) pass outside the Brownstone – Nero Wolfe's Manhattan abode.

In this fan-fiction triplet of novelettes by Alan Vanneman (a published author of two novel-length Sherlock Holmes pastiches), we can for the first time experience Wolfe and Archie in action in the 21st century, in post-911 New York.

To emphasize the characters' agelessness, there is an ingenious twist in the threesome: the first story takes place in the original Nero Wolfe time-line, in 1935 (soon after the opening Wolfe & Archie adventure, Fer-de-Lance of 1934), while in the second and third story, we jump straight into our present-day digital/online era.

«Invitation to a Shooting Party», Chapter 2

Inviting Wolfe to Bucks County was like inviting the Statue of Liberty. Neither was likely to make the trip.  

Chapter 4

  I stood over the kill, feeling happy.

Nero Wolfe, ib.

  “[...] The English aristocracy is equally striking for both its insolence and its insolvency. And one may include arrogance and incompetence as well.”  

Nero Wolfe in Chapter 6

“It is astonishing what gilded embroidery the aristocracy will not lavish upon the implements of their leisure. As though the purpose of life were to shoot a bird rather than eat one.”  

Nero Wolfe, ib.

  “[...] I find that I carry not an ounce of surplus. One must balance one’s temperament as one can. [...]”  


  “[...] You do not hunt, Mr. Wolfe?”

“For profit only, not pleasure. And I confine myself to my own species.”  

«Fame Will Tell», Chapter 1

  “The glass is holding up, Archie,” said Wolfe, once he had the blossoms draped the way he wanted them. “I paid $80,000 for this house when I purchased it. You will forgive me if I do not race to spend eighty times that sum for repairs.”  

ib. (= cont. to prec.)

  He sat in the one chair in the world that actually suits him and picked up the morning mail. I ignored him, entering Theodore’s plant records on the computer.  


  Wolfe snorted. It might have started out as a grunt, but it finished as a snort.  

Nero Wolfe, ib.

  “The females are as addled as the males. The audience forms an acute sociological commentary on the sexual phantasms of our era. Human beings will do anything with their desire other than embrace it directly.”  

Nero Wolfe, ib.

  “[...] I have always felt that Hell must be very beautiful, or it would not be so well-populated. [...]”  

Archie Goodwin, ib.

[...] Mr. Wolfe is a lot like his office. He’s old-fashioned. He doesn’t like obscenities. He doesn’t like attitude, and he certainly doesn’t like skin. I mean, he’s the opposite of hip-hop. [...]”  

Chapter 2

I was cleaning out my emails when the phone rang.

“Nero Wolfe’s office. Archie Goodwin speaking.”  


  I was going through my emails when Wolfe came down.

Nero Wolfe, ib.

  “[...] The nineteenth century has its charms, but the twenty-first has its advantages.”  

Chapter 3

I drank the coffee and ran through my emails and then the Gazette online to see if anything had broken. [...] Since the news on the web was half an hour old I switched on CNN and got a glimpse of Mayor Bloomberg fighting his way through a crowd of reporters, looking like he’d rather be smoking a cigarette. [...]

I switched off the sound and listened to my voice mails.

Chapter 5

Before going down for breakfast I checked the Internet.


  I spent most of the morning working on something that had nothing to do with the case. Ever since the breakup of the Soviet Union Wolfe had been taking more and more interest in the Balkans. Once he discovered that there were websites based in the Balkans, he had me download material for him every week. There were about twenty sites that Wolfe found “interesting”, which was a lot to print out. It was all in Greek, or Russian, or Serbian, so it was over my head, but Wolfe was happy.  

Nero Wolfe in «Politics Is Murder», Chapter 1

  “[...] Your problem is ticklish, and I have always found that it is best to treat such problems in writing. Archie, your computer.”  

Nero Wolfe, ib.

[...] I dislike taxes, but I do not disdain them.”  

Chapter 2

  I had to face it. My job was to sit on my fanny and type.


Just before he left for his afternoon session with the plants Wolfe gave me an Internet search on a dozen new sites in three different languages, none of which I could read.

Chapter 3

  When I got into the office Wolfe was hard at work, reading Gousset with both hands.  


He reached for his beer. Since there was scarcely half a glass remaining, there was no point in being subtle. He drained the glass and set it down.  

Nero Wolfe in Chapter 4

  “[...] Inspector Cramer, who makes a point of never learning from his mistakes, maintains an infantile obsession with what occurs in this house. [...]”  


  “That’s a little steep, isn’t it?” she asked. “What’s your usual fee?”

“I have no usual fee. In any event, Miss Coulter, your predicament is far from usual. You should count yourself fortunate to have the wherewithal to command my services.”  


Watching Ann’s ego smack into Wolfe’s was like watching the collision of two icebergs: cold and snowy on top, with plenty of grinding going on underneath.

Nero Wolfe in Chapter 5

  “[...] I may dine like an aristocrat, Mr. Sullivan, and you may ridicule me for doing so, but I do not think like one. I hold myself apart from the common man, but I acknowledge him as my master. [...]”  

Andy Sullivan to Nero Wolfe, ib.

“There is an austere majesty to these dishes, the simplicity of the finest.”  


  Andy showed up at five minutes to twelve, wearing a checked suit with a deerskin vest. I’d seen him on television a few times. He was one of the people Wolfe liked to turn off, which put him in pretty good company, actually. As far as I could tell, the only people Wolfe liked to watch were Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin.  

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