Door to Death

"Door to Death"
Author Rex Stout
Country United States
Language English
Series Nero Wolfe
Genre(s) Detective fiction
Published in The American Magazine
Publication type Periodical
Publication date June 1949

"Door to Death" is a Nero Wolfe mystery novella by Rex Stout, first published in the June 1949 issue of The American Magazine. It first appeared in book form in the short-story collection Three Doors to Death, published by the Viking Press in 1950.

Plot summary

When orchid nurse Theodore Horstmann leaves the brownstone indefinitely to tend to his sick mother, Nero Wolfe goes out in the snow and on foot into the raging wilds of Westchester to find a replacement. He and Archie find a corpse in the greenhouse, as well.

Publication history

Dell Ten-Cent Edition #21, first edition as such ("Door to Death" is the only story in this book), 1951

"Door to Death"

Three Doors to Death

Contents include "Man Alive", "Omit Flowers" and "Door to Death".
In his limited-edition pamphlet, Collecting Mystery Fiction #9, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Part I, Otto Penzler describes the first edition of Three Doors to Death: "Green cloth, front cover and spine printed with black; rear cover blank. Issued in a mainly reddish-orange dust wrapper."[2]:25
In April 2006, Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine estimated that the first edition of Three Doors to Death had a value of between $300 and $500. The estimate is for a copy in very good to fine condition in a like dustjacket.[3]
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).[2]:19–20


Spadina Historic House and Gardens, the Pitcairn estate in "Door to Death" (A Nero Wolfe Mystery)
Greenhouse and cottage at Spadina House

A Nero Wolfe Mystery (A&E Network)

"Door to Death" was adapted for the first season of the A&E TV series A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001–2002). Directed by Holly Dale from a teleplay by Sharon Elizabeth Doyle, the episode made its debut June 24, 2001, on A&E.

Timothy Hutton is Archie Goodwin; Maury Chaykin is Nero Wolfe. Other members of the cast (in credits order) are Colin Fox (Fritz Brenner), James Tolkan (Mr. Joseph Pitcairn), Marian Seldes (Mrs. Pitcairn), Kari Matchett (Lily Rowan), Nicholas Campbell (Andy Krasicki), Beau Starr (Lieutenant Noonan), Conrad Dunn (Saul Panzer), Ken Kramer (Neil Imbrie), Kristin Booth (Dini Lauer), Christine Brubaker (Sybil Pitcairn), Boyd Banks (Donald Pitcairn), Nancy Beatty (Vera Imbrie) and Francie Swift (Margot Dickey, uncredited).

In addition to original music by Nero Wolfe composer Michael Small, the soundtrack includes music by Angel Villaldo and Tony Clout.[4]

In international broadcasts, the episodes "Door to Death" and "Christmas Party" are linked and expanded into a 90-minute widescreen telefilm titled "Wolfe Goes Out."[5]

A Nero Wolfe Mystery began to be released on Region 2 DVD in December 2009, marketed in the Netherlands by Just Entertainment.[6] The third collection released in April 2010 made the 90-minute features "Wolfe Goes Out" and "Wolfe Stays In" available on home video for the first time; until then, the linked episodes "Door to Death"/ "Christmas Party" and "Eeny Meeny Murder Mo"/"Disguise for Murder" were available only in the abbreviated form sold in North America by A&E Home Video (ISBN 0-7670-8893-X). The A&E and Just Entertainment DVD releases present the episodes in 4:3 pan and scan rather than their 16:9 aspect ratio for widescreen viewing.


  1. 1 2 Townsend, Guy M., 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. ISBN 0-8240-9479-4
  2. 1 2 Penzler, Otto, Collecting Mystery Fiction #9, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Part I. New York: The Mysterious Bookshop, 2001. Limited edition of 250 copies.
  3. Smiley, Robin H., "Rex Stout: A Checklist of Primary First Editions." Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine (Volume 16, Number 4), April 2006, p. 33
  4. Angel Villoldo, "El Choclo," arranged by Colin Frechter; Carlin Production Music CAR 164, Latin American (track 13). Tony Clout, "La Concordia"; Carlin Production Music CAR 164, Latin American (track 10). Additional soundtrack details at the Internet Movie Database and The Wolfe Pack, official site of the Nero Wolfe Society
  5. Sky Movies (UK) summary retrieved October 4, 2007; run length of "Wolfe Goes Out" is recorded as 90 minutes. Program listings for Sunday, November 7, 2004, broadcast on Sky Movies 2 records broadcast as widescreen format.
  6. "Nero Wolfe". Just Entertainment. Retrieved 2014-10-12.

External links

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