I read Dave Zeltserman’s first Julius Katz and Archie story, titled simply “Julius Katz”, a couple of years ago in EQMM, before it won the Shamus Award. I missed the second tale in the series, “Archie’s Been Framed”. Luckily for me, and for you if you haven’t sampled this series yet, both stories are now available in the e-book JULIUS KATZ MYSTERIES.
Julius Katz, for those of you who don’t know, is a brilliant detective from Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose personality, but not his appearance and habits, is modeled after Nero Wolfe. Archie, in this case, is not Katz’s flesh-and-blood assistant and legman, but rather a two-inch square computer chip that has an artificial intelligence of its – or his – own. Katz wears Archie as a tie clip, and Archie narrates the stories.
Obviously, this series started out as a pastiche of/tribute to Rex Stout’s classic body of work featuring Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, but even before the first story was over Zeltserman had molded it into something more by giving Julius and Archie their own personalities and capturing them so perfectly. Julius isn’t as eccentric and infuriating as Wolfe, and Archie the computer doesn’t have Archie Goodwin’s wiseass self-confidence. The dynamic between their characters and the voice that Zeltserman develops make for a very appealing combination. The stories are well-plotted traditional mysteries, to boot, a form that’s not nearly as common as it once was.
I have the first full-length novel in the series, JULIUS KATZ AND ARCHIE, and will be reading it soon. But if you haven’t read the first two stories, or even if you just missed one of them like I did, I highly recommend that you grab a copy of JULIUS KATZ MYSTERIES. You'll be glad you did.