In his early teens, Robert Goldsborough complained to his mother one summer day that he had “nothing to do.” An avid reader of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries, she gave him a magazine serialization, and he became hooked on the adventures of the corpulent Nero and his irreverent sidekick, Archie Goodwin.
Through his school years and beyond, Goldsborough devoured virtually all of the 70-plus Wolfe mysteries. It was during his tenure as writer and editor with the Chicago Tribune that the paper printed the obituary of Rex Stout. On reading it, his mother lamented that “Now there won’t be any more Nero Wolfe stories.”
“There might be one more,” Goldsborough mused, and began writing an original Wolfe novel for his mother as a 1978 Christmas present. This story, Murder in E Minor, remained a bound typescript for years, but in the mid-’80s, Goldsborough received permission from the Stout estate to publish it. Murder in E Minor first appeared as a Bantam hardcover, then in paperback, and six more Nero Wolfe novels eventually followed–all to favorable reviews.
As much as he enjoyed writing those mysteries, Robert Goldsborough longed to create his own characters. Thus, so far we have Three Strikes You’re Dead, set in the gang-ridden Chicago of the late 1930s; Shadow of the Bomb, set in the early years of America’s participation in World War II as scientists worked to secretly develop the atomic bomb on the University of Chicago campus, and A Death in Pilsen, set during the postwar mid-1940s in an old southside Chicago neighborhood–each book in the series narrated by Tribune police reporter Steve Malek.
Goldsborough, a lifelong Chicagoan who logged twenty-one years with the Tribune and twenty-three years with the trade journal Advertising Age, says it was “Probably inevitable that I would end up using a newspaperman as my protagonist.”