Friday, September 4, 2015

Forgotten Books: WHERE THERE'S A WILL by Rex Stout (photo edition)


 Ye Olde Cap'n Bob Napier and I got an email from noted Wolfean "Tough Jim" Gaston the other day, saying this:

As you both are well aware, in the Nero Wolfe novel WHERE THERE'S A WILL, there are 6 infamous photographs in the first edition and the G&D edition through which Wolfe solves the mystery. Infamous because while the book takes place in the summer, the photos were taken during the winter. Up until today I thought these were the only editions where the photographs appeared. But according to some guy I read on the internet, the photos also appeared in Avon's edition #103, between pages 162 and 163. I don't own a copy - in fact, I'm not sure I've even seen one - so I can't give an objective confirmation. But I have no reason to doubt it. Are either of you aware of this information? Or own the book?

Well. Bob may have been aware of this, but I wasn't. When I read the book (about three sisters contesting the will of their murdered brother) it was a later paperback edition. But somewhere along the way I acquired a copy of Avon 103, so I took a look. And - Lo and Behold - there they were, about the size of postage stamps. Were they taken in the winter? You wouldn't know it from these. Were they bigger in the hardcover editions? Does it matter that they were left out of later paperbacks?  Does winter or summer really matter? I don't know, but they're mildly interesting, I suppose.




Is the dome-topped guy in this last pic really supposed to be Wolfe? See comments...

7 comments:

Cap'n Bob said...

I had no clue about the photos, either. The edition I read was also older.

Anonymous said...

I'll be dipped! This is news to me, and I have the Avon! Never opened it, preferring to read from less brown & fragile copies. Photos are there, as advertised, but absent in a later Avon edition. Given what you're supposed to spot in the photos to identify the killer, these tiny photos are hardly adequate. This isn't the only Wolfe solution keyed to a photo clue. The novella "Easter Parade" also hinges on Wolfe spotting something in a sequence of slides. I have a vague memory that the original American Magazine publication included the photos. This sort of information should have been included in the Townsend et al. Stout bibliography, but is surprisingly absent. Perhaps someone out there can supply the Easter Parade photos also.
Art Scott

Anonymous said...

Correction & addendum. "Easter Parade" first appeared in Look magazine, not American, and you can see a scan of the photos here, thanks to Janet Rudolph:

http://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/2013/03/easter-crime-fictioneaster-mysteries.html

Art Scott

George said...

I was sure Art Scott could illuminate this.

Anonymous said...

One more addendum. I still had a disquieting feeling about WTAW, so went back to the text and reviewed the discussion of the photos. Never mind that it's summer and the scenery looks like winter, the sixth photo is supposed to be "one of Nero Wolfe sitting at his desk". That svelte, bald guy is supposed to be Nero Wolfe?!
"Infamous" is scarcely the word for it! Even on RADIO they knew enough to cast a fat man (Sidney Greenstreet) as Wolfe!
Art Scott

Richard R. said...

Well, there are no leaves on the trees.... that would make it winter.

Cap'n Bob said...

Not winter in New York. Note the short sleeves.