Things I've learned about the Nero Wolfe series by way of this sample:
- The relationship between Nero and Archie changed very little from the first.
- Even though Nero and Archie don't seem to age, the context of the stories keeps pace with the times (depression, war years, LSD and civil rights, Watergate);
- Archie isn't above torturing, assaulting and robbing people, and urging at least one to suicide, though he hates it when Wolfe does so;
- Nero isn't above manipulating fate;
- In only one book I've read did Stout use language about race to highlight differences in class and breeding -- to interesting effect;
- Archie is presented as the quintessential ladies man, but maybe he's not. Constanza in Two Many Cooks makes him so nervous that he pretends to be married; Lilly Rowan is so forward in Some Buried Caesar that he must put her down repeatedly.
- Earlier mysteries followed the mystery formula much less; it was perfectly possible for the killer and his/her motive to be introduced in the last several chapters of a book; by the 1960's, the book was salted throughout with clues pointing to the killer.
- Stout has no problem introducing a sympathetic character and killing her (usually) off.
- Archie and Lilly appear together off and on for 36 years, and in the final Nero Wolfe book, they conclude they don't really know what their relationship is either.