Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Black Orchids

Black Orchids. A Nero Wolfe Mystery. Rex Stout. 1941/1942. Random House. 208 pages.

First sentence of Black Orchids: "Monday at the Flower Show, Tuesday at the Flower Show, Wednesday at the Flower Show. Me, Archie Goodwin. How's that? I do not deny that flowers are pretty, but a million flowers are not a million times prettier than one flower. Oysters are good to eat, but who wants to eat a carload?"

First sentence of Cordially Invited to Meet Death: "That wasn't the first time I ever saw Bess Huddleston."

Black Orchids was my first introduction to Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. And oh how I loved them! The book was narrated by Archie Goodwin, and he had me practically at hello! (While I wouldn't say I loved him *more* than Miss Marple or Lord Peter Wimsey, I can definitely say that I love, love, love him as a narrator!)

So in this book, readers have two novellas. The first, Black Orchids, concerns a murder at a flower show. Archie has been made to go to this flower show day after day after day by his boss who is a little obsessed with orchids. And on the final day (or one of the final days of the show) they go together. And it just so happens that that is the day a dead body is found in one of the exhibits! Archie is the one who makes this discovery--that the "sleeping" man is REALLY not going to be waking up. The police are on the case, of course, as they usually are in detective stories. But Nero Wolfe with some help from Archie and a few others in his employ--may just solve the case first. This botany-themed mystery didn't wow me for its subject--but I did enjoy meeting Nero and Archie.

The second novella, Cordially Invited to Meet Death, is my favorite of the two. In this mystery, we meet Bess Huddleston, a snobbish party planner for the wealthy elite of society. She comes to Nero Wolfe looking for help. Someone is sending out nasty letters--in her name, on her stationary. This "poison-pen" must be stopped! But who is the one behind this unpleasantness? And do they want merely to embarrass her--or is her life at risk?! Archie, our narrator, begins to investigate the case by trying to get close to those who are closest to her, namely: two female assistants, a nephew, a brother, and a local doctor. Can Archie and Nero solve this one before it turns deadly?

Black Orchids is an enjoyable read! I found it very satisfying! I'm not sure how Black Orchids compares with others in the series--so I'm not going to say that this is my favorite or best, it's just too soon to say. But. I enjoyed it and would recommend it!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Andrea said...

What?! No comments for Black Orchids?? This is a great read! I truly love Rex Stout's writing style.