Trisha Shetty (Editor)

A Family Affair (novel)

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Cover artist  Mel Williamson
Series  Nero Wolfe
ISBN  0-670-30611-8
Author  Rex Stout
Preceded by  Please Pass the Guilt
Country  United States of America
Language  English
Media type  Print (Hardcover)
Originally published  1975
Genre  Detective fiction
Followed by  Death Times Three
A Family Affair (novel) t0gstaticcomimagesqtbnANd9GcRpKr0wIp2ugUvFw
Pages  152 pp. (first edition)
Similar  Rex Stout books, Nero Wolfe mystery books, Mystery books

A Family Affair is the final Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1975. The prolific author, who had penned more than 70 stories in the internationally successful Nero Wolfe stories since 1934, died at the age of 88, less than six months after publication of his last book.


Plot summary

A waiter at Rusterman's Restaurant turns up at Wolfe's front door late one night, claiming that a man is going to kill him. Shortly after Archie puts him in one of the spare bedrooms, the waiter dies when a bomb planted in his coat pocket explodes. Wolfe, outraged at the thought of such a violent act taking place in his own house, resolves to find the murderer without sharing any information with Inspector Cramer. Soon Wolfe and Archie find themselves investigating two additional murders: the earlier killing of a customer at Rusterman's, and the subsequent death of the waiter's daughter.

For much of the story, Stout leads the reader to believe that the central murder mystery is related to the Watergate scandal. Ultimately, Wolfe discovers that the killer is one of his closest associates, a character who had been appearing in Nero Wolfe mysteries for over forty years.

A Family Affair is an unusual Nero Wolfe mystery in that Archie reveals his (correct) opinion of the killer's identity well before Wolfe does so in the closing chapters.

Reviews and commentary

Time reviewer J.F. Powers gave the book a favorable review, indicating that "even veteran aficionados will be hypnotized by this witty, complex mystery."

Publication history

  • 1975, New York: The Viking Press, May 1975, hardcover
  • In his limited-edition pamphlet, Collecting Mystery Fiction #10, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Part II, Otto Penzler describes the first edition of A Family Affair: "Blue boards, black cloth spine; front and rear covers blank; spine stamped with gold and blue foil. Issued in a mainly black dust wrapper." In April 2006, Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine estimated that the first edition of A Family Affair had a value of between $60 and $100. The estimate is for a copy in very good to fine condition in a like dustjacket.
  • 1975, New York: Viking (Mystery Guild), November 1975, hardcover
  • The far less valuable Viking book club edition may be distinguished from the first edition in three ways:
  • 1976, London: Collins Crime Club, 1976, hardcover
  • 1976, New York: Bantam #02614-3, September 1976, paperback
  • 1976, London: Fontana #4339, 1976, paperback
  • 1976, London: Book Club Associates, 1976
  • 1993, New York: Bantam Crimeline ISBN 0-553-24122-2 January 1, 1993, paperback
  • 2006, Auburn, California: The Audio Partners Publishing Corp., Mystery Masters ISBN 1-57270-494-2 January 9, 2006, audio CD (unabridged, read by Michael Prichard)
  • 2011, New York: Bantam Crimeline ISBN 978-0-307-76815-5 August 17, 2011, e-book
  • References

    A Family Affair (novel) Wikipedia