THE NEW ADVENTURES OF NERO WOLFE “The Case of the Disappearing Diamonds.” NBC, 30 minutes. March 9, 1951. Sydney Greenstreet, Harry Bartell. Story: Mindret Lord.

   As a radio series The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe was heard for one short season on NBC, running from October 20, 1950, to April 27, 1951. There had been two earlier versions: The Adventures of Nero Wolfe, a 1943–44 series on ABC starring Santos Ortega and Luis van Rooten, and The Amazing Nero Wolfe, a 1945 series on Mutual starring Francis X. Bushman, but there’s no denying that Sydney Greenstreet was well nigh perfectly cast for the role.

   For a season of only 26 shows, though, the series went though quite a few people playing Archie. Besides Harry Bartell, they included such well known radio voices as Gerald Mohr, Herb Ellis, Lawrence Dobkin, Lamont Johnson and Wally Maher. It probably didn’t matter to radio audiences all that much who played the part back then, however. The combo of Nero Wolfe and Sydney Greenstreet was, I’m sure, all they needed.

   I’m not so sure about the stories, though, not if this is an example. It begins with a sneak thief named Willie Inch asking Wolfe to help him prove he didn’t kill the lady of the house after he’d burgled it, and quite successfully, too. It’s too bad he left fingerprints behind, as well as the body of the lady.

   And oh, yes, a small fortune in diamonds is also missing, but Willie Inch did not take them. Someone else had larceny on his (or her) mind the very same evening. There is also a beautiful young woman involved. She claims to be a writer and wants to do a story about Wolfe. Archie demurs, saying that a fellow named Rex Stout is already writing up his adventures. After Wolfe proves she’s a fraud, that doesn’t stop Archie for making a play for her — to his regret.

   But the ending is very weak and terribly rushed. Something could have made of the gimmick involved, but as it was, that’s all is was, only a gimmick. The trappings of the Wolfean stories are there, but there’s not solid enough in this episode to make me want to listen to another. I’ll stick to the books, and the Maury Chaykin-Timothy Hutton TV show that was how on A&E a while back. As an adaption of one of my favorite detective series, it was most satisfactory.