An Elevated Lifestyle
The amazing thing about Nero Wolfe, hero of Rex Stout’s Fer-de-Lance, was that he lived in a house with its own elevator. I was 14 when I first read the book. I was spending the school holidays with my mother and brand-new stepfather, who were then living on an oil pumping station in Iraq with the evocative Babylonian name of K3. The British expatriate staff lived in prefabricated bungalows assembled in various configurations to give the illusion of variety. These were commodious, well-planned and, when the air conditioning worked, comfortable, but characterless. And here was a private detective who lived in an enormous townhouse with its own passenger lift.