Quotations:Too Many Clients

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by Rex Stout (1960)
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  1. Page references follow the 1994 Bantam Books Crime Line edition (The Rex Stout Library); the novel is 207 pages long in that edition.
  2. For mulishness, compare If Death Ever Slept, quote from page 64

Archie and Fritz Chapter 1 pg. 7-8.

“Having noticed that we haven’t had a client worth a damn for nearly six weeks, you want to know if we have one now, and I don’t blame you. It’s possible but not likely. It looks like more peanuts. You may have to invent a dish for a king made of peanut butter.”

“Not impossible, Archie. The problem would be to crack the oil. Not vinegar; it would take too much. Perhaps lime juice, with or without a drop or two of onion juice. I’ll try it tomorrow.”


Archie and Lon Cohen Chapter 2. pg. 12-13.

“I’m writing it now: ‘Nero Wolfe, private eye extraordinary, was plunging into the Yeager murder case more than two hours before the body was discovered in an excavation on West Eighty-second Street. At five-five P.M. his lackey, Archie Goodwin, phoned the Gazette office to get-“

“You’ll eat it. The whole world knows I’m not a lackey, I’m a flunky, and the idea of Nero Wolfe plunging.”


Archie and Lon Cohen ib., pg. 18.

“If you will forget about my curiosity about Yeager until further notice, I’ll put you on my Christmas card list. This year it will be an abstract painting in twenty colors and the message will be ‘We want to share with you this picture of us bathing the dog, greetings of the season from Archie and Mehitabel and the children.’”

“You haven’t got a Mehitabel or any children.”

“Sure, that’s why it will be abstract.”


ib., pg. 19.

The reading light in the wall above and behind his [Wolfe] left shoulder was the only one on in the room, and like that, with the light at that angle, he looks even bigger than he is. Like a mountain with the sun rising behind it.


Chapter 3 pg. 27.

He [Wolfe] was standing before the mirror on the dresser, knotting his four-in-hand. Since he always goes from his room to the roof for his morning two hours in the plant rooms I don’t know why he sports a tie - maybe being polite to the orchids.


Archie speaking of Maria Perez ib., pg. 31.

She turned back to me, graceful as a big cat, and stood there straight and proud, not quite smiling, her warm dark eyes as curious as if she had never seen a man before. I knew damn well I ought to say something, but what? The only thing to say was “Will you marry me?” but that wouldn’t do because the idea of her washing dishes or darning socks was preposterous.


Chapter 4 pg. 42

“Are you Nero Wolfe’s Archie Goodwin?”

“No. I’m my Archie Goodwin.”


Archie and Fred Durkin ib., pg. 49.

“Eighty-second Street,” he said, “Murder. What was his name? Yeager.”

“You read too much and you’re morbid and you jump to conclusions. Pack your bag and button your lip.”


Archie speaking of Maria Perez ib., pg. 49.

Looking at her, any man alive would have thought, What the hell, I could wash the dishes and darn the socks myself.


Archie and Fred Durkin. ib., pg. 50.

“Your new home,” I told him. “I do hope you’ll be happy here. The idea is, you take your pick from the pictures. Something like the Mountain Room at the Churchill with live trout and you choose the one you want for lunch. I strongly recommend the one over there sitting on the rose bush. If she can stand thorns she can stand you.”

“You know, Archie, I’ve always wondered why you didn’t marry. How long have you had it?”

“Oh, ten years, I guess. I have others here and there around town.”


Nero Wolfe. Chapter 5 pg. 54.

“A modern satyr is part man, part pig, and part jackass. He hasn’t even the charm of a roguish; he doesn’t lean gracefully against a tree with a flute in his hand. The only quality he has preserved from his Attic ancestors is his lust, and he gratifies it in dark corners or other men’s beds or hotel rooms, not in the shade of an olive tree on a sunny hillside. The preposterous blower of carnality you have described is a sorry makeshift, but at least Mr. Yeager tried. A pig and a jackass, yes, but the flute strain was in him too-as it once was in me, in my youth.”


Chapter 6 pg. 68.

“I haven’t described Maria at length and don’t intend to, but when I start marrying she will be third on the list and might even be first if I didn’t have prior commitments. She may be part witch but she has not been debauched. If and when she orgies with a satyr he’ll be leaning gracefully against a tree with a flute in his hand.”


Nero Wolfe Chapter 7 pg. 80.

“Like doctors, lawyers, plumbers, and many others, I get my income from the necessities, the tribulations, and the misfortunes of my fellow human beings.”


Chapter 9 pg. 101.

At the meeting of these two, Wolfe and Cramer; naturally I’m not an impartial observer. Not only am I committed and involved; there is also the basic fact that cops and private detectives are enemies and always will be. Back of the New York cop are the power and authority of 80 million people; back of the private detective is nothing but the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and while that is a fine thing to have it doesn’t win arguments. But though I’m not impartial I am an observer, and one of the privileges of my job is to be present when Cramer walks into the office and aims his sharp gray eyes at Wolfe, and Wolfe, his head cocked a little to the side, meets them. Who will land the first blow, and will it be a jab, a hook, or a swing?


Nero Wolfe & Archie Goodwin in chapter 10, page 128 [1]

  “You're incorrigibly mulish[2].”

“Yes, sir. Same to you.”  


Archie speaking of Fred Durkin. Chapter 12 pg. 146.

The difference in the way he takes Wolfe and the way he takes me is not based on experience. Up in the bower, getting it only from me, he had suspected that I was perching him far out on a limb and he didn’t like it. Now, with Wolfe, there was no question of suspecting or not liking. He had got the idea somehow, long ago, that there was absolutely no limit to what Wolfe could do if he want to, so of course there was no risk involved. I would like to be present to see his face if and when Wolfe tells him to go to Moscow and tail Khrushchev.


Archie and Purley Stebbins Chapter 14 pg. 180

“So you’re coming down town or you’re under arrest as a material witness.”

“Am I under arrest?”

“No. I said or.”

“It’s nice to have a choice.” I got a quarter from my pocket, flipped it in the air, caught it, and looked at it. “I win. Let’s go.”


Chapter 15 pg. 184.

“There were spots. I refused to sign a statement.”

“That was wise. Satisfactory. Mrs. Yeager told me of your impromptu explanation to Mr. Stebbins. She was impressed. Satisfactory.”

Two satisfactories in one speech was a record. “Oh,” I said, “just my usual discretion and sagacity. I was either that or shoot him.”


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