As a series goes on, the fiction accumulates and matures until it takes on almost the nature of reality. Although they never age, Wolfe and Archie acquire more of a past with each volume. Myriad details of their relationship, their routines, their methods, and their connections with others become so well-established that they function as facts. Thus, although Stout claimed that he never revised or even reread anything he wrote, he had ever-increasing intertextual resources at his disposal, and he knew how to use them. Most of what appears in The Doorbell Rang has a familiar flavor; the few genuinely new features have a heightened effect. Rex Stout has exploited the potential of the series more felicitously perhaps than any other author of popular fiction. The Doorbell Rang may or may not be his best Nero Wolfe novel, but as one of the latest it exists in a rich context. It can be read with pleasure on its own, but the more preceding volumes one knows, the greater the pleasure.
(The entire section is 170 words.)