When my story “Julius Katz” (EQMM September/October 2009) was published, it must’ve surprised my readers. Up till then, most readers knew me from my dark and violent noir novels and stories. “Julius Katz” is very different from my noir writing in its gentle humor and endearing characters, and is mostly a bloodless story where the murders take place off screen. My Julius Katz stories are somewhere between pastiche and homage to Nero Wolfe—a mix of hardboiled and traditional mystery where a brilliant but incredibly lazy detective has all the evidence gathered, questions the witnesses, and then points out the guilty party. The hardboiled element in both Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and my Julius Katz stories is represented by a wisecracking assistant who narrates the stories. With Nero Wolfe the assistant is Archie Goodwin. In my Julius Katz stories, the assistant is also named Archie, but there the similarities with Archie Goodwin end, as my Archie is a computer device the size of a tie pin, but with the heart and soul of a hardboiled PI. And with his self-adapting neuron network, my Archie wants nothing more than to learn enough by observing Julius so that he can beat him to the punch in solving a case.
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