Death of a Dude--First Edition
Death of a Dude--First Edition


Archie Goodwin is part of a house party at Lily Rowan's vacation home in Montana when a murder brings Nero Wolfe from New York to take a hand to get Archie back to New York as quickly as possible. Imagine Nero Wolfe in Montana, talking about a case while he and Archie sit on rocks and Wolfe is sitting bare foot outside near a stream. Death of a Dude succeeds in taking our characters entirely out of their normal environment and Stout does a fantastic job of creating this amazing cast of characters and setting for Archie and Wolfe to inhabit.


  • She forked a bite of meat to her mouth and started to chew. She often did that; she might get a part in a play with an eating scene, and mixing chewing and talking needed practice. An actor can practice anywhere any time with anybody, and most of them do.
    • Archie Goodwin, about fellow house guest Diana Kadany, chapter 3
  • A self-invited guest is an abomination, but there is no alternative for me.
    • Nero Wolfe to Lily Rowan, chapter 4
  • I don't play games. I like using words, not playing with them.
    • Nero Wolfe declining to play Scrabble, chapter 5
  • Man's brain, enlarged fortuitously, invented words in an ambitious attempt to learn how to think, only to have them usurped by his emotions. But we still try.
    • Nero Wolfe, chapter 8
  • Wolfe was put between Carol and Alma, and I was across from him and had a good view of his reaction to the tomato soup out of a can. He got it down all right, all of it, and the only thing noticeable was noticed only by me: that he carefully did not permit me to catch his eye.
    • Archie Goodwin, chapter 8


Nearing the end of his career, Stout comes up with a show-stopper. Wolfe leaves his NYC, W. 35th St. brownstone for one of his very few acceptable reasons, in this case rescuing Archie Goodwin. This 1969 novel takes place entirely away from home and to the best of my recollection this is the first time that happens since Too Many Cooks (1938) and Some Buried Caesar (1939). []

FROM THE BOSTON COLLEGE REX STOUT ARCHIVES, author's planning materials:
Except during WW II when Rex Stout devoted his time to the war effort, he wrote a Wolfe novel every year starting in 1933 (Fer-de-Lance) until 1967. Following the completion of Death of a Dude in 1969, he wrote only two more stories, due to health issues. He died October 27, 1975, five weeks after the publication of the last story, A Family Affair.

Below are Mr. Stout's handwritten plans and log of Death of a Dude. (working title was "Dead Dude") from the Boston College Rex Stout Archives. These plans demonstrates just how he was usually able to complete a full length novel in a only 3-4 weeks – his preliminary planning enabled him to actually write the story quickly with virtually no changes to the original manuscript prior to publication.

Rex Stout Writing Log for Death of a Dude
(he injured his back on November 22)

Death of a Dude Writing Record

List of Death of a Dude Characters (1 of 2)

List of Death of a Dude Characters (2 of 2)
Map of Death of a Dude Montana Locations
Plot Time Line of Death of a Dude