is abyRex Stout, first published in the August 1945 issue of. It first appeared in book form in the short-story collection, published by theViking Pressin 1949.
Publisher Ben Jensen pays a visit to Wolfes office, intent on buying protection for himself after receiving a death threat in the mail.Wolfe declines the offer, giving Jensen some advice on how to look out for his own safety, and Archie provides him with the name of an agency that does bodyguard work. Jensen had been involved in one of Wolfes earlier cases,in which an Army captain named Peter Root had offered to sell him classified information. Root was brought before acourt martialand sentenced to three years in prison.
The following mornings newspaper carries a report that both Jensen and the bodyguard he hired have been shot and killed; Wolfe denies to Inspector Cramer that he is taking any interest in the case. That days mail brings a death threat addressed to Wolfe, identical to the one Jensen received. Since the Root case is all that Wolfe and Jensen had in common, Wolfe and Archie track down current information on everyone connected to it, including Roots family and fiance, Jane Geer. Archie hurries to fill his end of the order before he must leave for a meeting in Washington, D.C. with his superiors in Army Intelligence. He locates Jane and brings her to the brownstone, but they are both surprised to find Jensens son Emilan Army majorwaiting at the door. Wolfe does not come down to meet them, but instead orders Archie over the in-house telephone to send them away.
While in Washington, Archie notices a help-wanted advertisement in a New York paper, calling for male applicants who are the same height and weight as Wolfe. Sneaking out of his meeting and hurrying back to Manhattan, Archie is surprised to see someone other than Wolfe in the detectives custom-built chair. Wolfe introduces the man as H.H. Hackett, who has responded to the ad and is being paid $100 per day to impersonate him at home and in public. He is using Hackett as a decoy to draw the fire of would-be killers so that he can determine who might want him dead.
Wolfe has determined, from information provided by Army Intelligence, that Root and his parents had no apparent involvement in the murders. He asks Archie to bring Jane in for an interview, with Hackett doubling for him while he observes from the peephole in the office wall. Archie now understands why Wolfe sent her away earlier; he did not want her to see him in person so that she would be fooled by Hackett as a stand-in. Jane and Emil arrive for the appointment together, having developed a close relationship since Archie last saw them. He puts them in the front room and goes to consult with Wolfe about Emils unexpected presence, but the sound of a gunshot startles everyone.
Rushing into the office, Archie finds that a bullet has been fired through Wolfes chair and into the wall behind it, apparently from the front room, and that Hacketts ear is nicked. Archie finds an old, recently fired revolver hidden in the front room, and Wolfe reveals himself to the visitors and takes charge. He calls Cramer to inform him about the weapon, which turns out to be the one that killed Jensen and the bodyguard, and pits Jane and Emil against each other in an effort to draw out the killer. However, the case turns in a new direction when he notices a cushion missing from the front rooms couch. It is soon found in the bottom drawer of Wolfes desk; this discovery, along with the fact that one of the guns in Archies desk has been recently fired, allows him to solve the case and turn the culprit over to Cramer.
The murderer is Hackett, actually Roots father Thomas, bent on revenge against everyone he blames for his sons imprisonment. After killing Jensen and the bodyguard, and sending the death threat to Wolfe, he responded to Wolfes ad and smuggled the murder weapon inside. During a time when he was alone in the office, he took a cushion from the couch, wrapped it around the gun to muffle the report, and fired a shot through the chair and into the wall. He hid the cushion in the desk and the gun in the front room, and made sure to sit in the chair so that his head would cover the bullet hole. While Jane and Emil were waiting in the front room, he took a gun from Archies desk, fired into the cushion, and used a pocketknife to cut a gash in his ear before returning the gun. Given one more day, Hackett/Thomas would have been able to kill Wolfe and focus suspicion on Jane and Emil.
Nero Wolfe The private investigator
Archie Goodwin Wolfes assistant, and the narrator of all Wolfe stories
Ben Jensen Publisher and a witness in a prior case against Captain Peter Root
Major Emil Jensen Ben Jensens son
H. H. Hackett A body-double for Wolfe
Inspector Cramer and Sgt. Purley Stebbins Representing Manhattan Homicide
, New York: Pyramid T-2129, November 1969
Masterpieces of Mystery: The Grand Masters
, ed. byEllery Queen, New York: Davis Publications, 1976
1949, New York: TheViking Press, February 11, 1949, hardcover
Contents includeBefore I Die, Help Wanted, Male andInstead of Evidence.
Collecting Mystery Fiction 9, Rex Stouts Nero Wolfe Part I
,Otto Penzlerdescribes thefirst editionof
: Yellow cloth, front cover and spine printed with red; rear cover blank. Issued in a pink, black and white dust wrapper.
Firsts: The Book Collectors Magazine
estimated that the first edition of
had a value of between $300 and $500. The estimate is for a copy in very good to fine condition in a like dustjacket.
1949, Toronto:Macmillan, 1949, hardcover
1949, New York: Viking (Mystery Guild), August 1949, hardcover
The far less valuable Viking book club edition may be distinguished from the first edition in three ways:
The dust jacket has Book Club Edition printed on the inside front flap, and the price is absent (first editions may be price clipped if they were given as gifts).
Book club editions are sometimes thinner and always taller (usually a quarter of an inch) than first editions.
Book club editions are bound in cardboard, and first editions are bound in cloth (or have at least a cloth spine).
1949, London:Collins Crime Club, August 22, 1949, hardcover
1951, New York:Bantam925, September 1951, paperback
1993, New York: Bantam CrimelineISBN0-553-24247-4June 1, 1993, paperback
1996, Newport Beach, California: Books on Tape, Inc.ISBN0-7366-3268-9January 25, 1996, audio cassette (unabridged, read by Michael Prichard)
2010, New York: Bantam CrimelineISBN978-0-307-75631-2May 19, 2010,e-book
With the help ofFritzColin Fox),Nero WolfeMaury Chaykin) realizes how the killer diverted suspicion to others inA&Eversion of Help Wanted, Male
Help Wanted, Male was adapted for the second season of the A&E TV seriesA Nero Wolfe Mystery(20012002). Directed byJohn LEcuyerfrom a teleplay by Sharon Elizabeth Doyle, Help Wanted, Male made its debut June 23, 2002, on A&E.
Timothy Huttonis Archie Goodwin;Maury Chaykinis Nero Wolfe. Other members of the cast (in credits order) includeColin Fox(Fritz Brenner),Bill SmitrovichInspector Cramer),R.D. Reid(Sergeant Purley Stebbins),James Tolkan(Ben Jenson),Richard Waugh(Major Emil Jensen),George Plimpton(General Carpenter), Robert Bockstael (Colonel Dickey), Steve Cumyn (Peter Root),Kari Matchett(Jane Geer),Larry Drake(Hackett) and Randy Butcher (Doyle).
In addition to original music byNero WolfecomposerMichael Small, the soundtrack includes music by Alan Moorhouse (titles),Tony Kinseyand Dick Walter.
In North America,A Nero Wolfe Mysteryis available on Region 1 DVD from A&E Home Video (ISBN0-7670-8893-X). The A&E DVD release presents Help Wanted, Male in 4:3pan and scanrather than its16:9aspect ratio forwidescreenviewing.
The episode is faithful to the story except for a major change at the end. Instead of Inspector Cramer and Sergeant Stebbins leading Thomas Root away and Wolfe asking Emil Jensen to make a donation to the National War Fund instead of paying him, Stebbins escorts Root out while Cramer stays behind in Wolfes office. When Jensen is about to offer Wolfe payment for finding his fathers killer, Cramer grumpily informs Jensen that Wolfe had refused to provide his father with protection after he came to him for help, prompting Jensen to close his checkbook and leave with Jane Geer.
Archie recognizes the threat as a clipping from a movie advertisement in
, in which many Wolfe stories, including this one, first appeared.
Not part of the corpus of Wolfe stories. It has been stated that
is in some sense a sequel toBooby Trapbut the two stories are completely independent of one another.
Rex Stout: An Annotated Primary and Secondary Bibliography
. New York: Garland Publishing, 1980. John McAleer, Judson Sapp and Arriean Schemer are associate editors of this definitive publication history.ISBN0-8240-9479-4
Collecting Mystery Fiction 9, Rex Stouts Nero Wolfe Part I
. New York: The Mysterious Bookshop, 2001. Limited edition of 250 copies.
Smiley, Robin H., Rex Stout: A Checklist of Primary First Editions.
Firsts: The Book Collectors Magazine
(Volume 16, Number 4), April 2006, p. 33
Alan Moorhouse, In the Swing;KPM Music GroupKPM 91,
(track 20). Tony Kinsey, Railroad Boogie;KPM Music Ltd.KPM 278,
(track 20). Dick Walter, Piano at Midnight;KPM Music Ltd.KPM 443,
(track 36). Additional soundtrack details at theInternet Movie Databaseand2013-05-14 at theWayback Machine., official site of the Nero Wolfe Society
VHS recording created for NW Production Services, Inc., labelled as follows: NERO WOLFE II: EPS206B HELP WANTED, MALE A&E Version Duration: 50:20:22 Mins 16:9 Letterbox Downconvert of HD Master
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