Sometimes I find eccentric characters quirky and fun, other times I find them too unbelievable and annoying. What are some of the more outrageous characters you’ve read, and how do you feel about them?
It’s funny, but for some reason, mystery writers always feel the need to make their detectives as eccentric as possible. Agatha Christie, for example, had Hercule Poirot, the small, fastidious Belgian. But I think the most eccentric has to be Nero Wolfe, created by Rex Stout. I really enjoy his novels, set in New York beginning in the 1930s. Mr. Wolfe (no one is allowed to call him by his first name) is a very successful detective, but somewhat difficult to work with. He is described as being unusually obese. He loves food and has a full-time Swiss chef. He also loves beer and drinks six quarts a day. His other passion is orchids. He had a greenhouse on top of his brownstone with thousands of plants and employes a full-time horticulturalist to care for them. He also keeps a very rigid schedule every day and never leaves his house, if he can help it. He is especially distristful of automobiles. He hires people to do the leg-work for his cases, usually his full-time assistant Archie Goodwin.
Sometimes I have a hard time believing all of his eccentricities, but mystery novels are always more about the plot than the characters anyway, so I tend to forgive them.