Rex Stout (born 1896 December 1 in Noblesville, Indiana) was an American author and radical, who wrote over 70 detective novels, 46 of them featuring eccentric, chubby, beer drinking gourmet sleuth Nero Wolfe, whose wisecracking aide and companion in crime solving was Archie Goodwin. Helped start the radical magazine “New Masses.”
- “Compose yourself, Archie. Why taunt me? Why upbraid me? I am merely a genius, not a god.” — Nero Wolfe, in Fer‐De-Lance (1934).
When the anti‐Communist hysteria of the late 1940s and 1950s began, Stout was a logical target. He found himself targeted by members of the American Legion, as well as Hooverʼs Federal Bureau of Investigations. As journalist Herbert Mitgang found when he obtained access to Stoutʼs FBI files for his book Dangerous Dossiers (1988), Stout was one of many writers on Hooverʼs private enemies list. Stoutʼs FBI file runs to 300 pages (though the FBI would only release 183 heavily blacked-out pages to Mitgang).
But Stout wasnʼt afraid, knowing that he could rely on both independent means and the love of the public. In 1965, Stout fought back with his novel The Doorbell Rang, in which Nero Wolfe found himself locked in a duel of wits with the FBI. and as any reader of the Nero Wolfe books — especially The Doorbell Rang — knows, in a battle of wits between Wolfe and anyone else, never bet against the fat man.