Black Orchids
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Black Orchids (Nero Wolfe #9)

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  2,359 ratings  ·  81 reviews
A remarkably rare black orchid at a flower show lures Nero Wolfe from his comfortable brownstone. But before the detective and his sidekick, Archie Goodwin, can stop and smell the roses, a diabolically daring murder puts a blight on the proceedings. The murderer to be weeded out is definitely not a garden-variety killer.

Wolfe must also throw his considerable weight into a...more
147 pages
Published (first published 1942)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Alexis Neal
This one's actually a twofer. In the first novella ('Black Orchids'), an obnoxious young gardener is murdered at a flower show, where Nero Wolfe just happens to be on hand, having made one of his once-in-a-blue-moon excursions out of doors to ogle the world's only black orchids, which are on display at the show. Fortunately, the owner of these precious plants--fellow orchid aficionado and millionaire Lewis Hewitt, a familiar face to Wolfe fans--wants Wolfe to solve the murder (and keep Hewitt's...more
Rebecca
I got this books from my mom for Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am a big mystery fan --Agatha Christie and Murder She Wrote in particular. I have found a new favorite! Stay tuned for more Nero Wolfe mysteries as I read them. The characters of Nero and Archie are so compelling, and I love Archie's sense of humor. This volume actually has two mysteries in it- Black Orchids and Cordially Invited to Meet Death. The mysteries are full of great period details, Wolfe's obsession with his orchid...more
Christopher Rush
I'd rate this 3.5, but I'm rounding up for the fun of reading Nero Wolfe again (like with most series, it has been too long for me). The first story, "Black Orchids," is by far the better of the two, though the second, "Cordially Invited to Meet Death" is interesting enough with its twists and lingering "mystery" at the end. "Black Orchids" is fast paced as far as I could tell, but that could have also been my enthusiasm for finally getting to another Wolfe adventure after too long. It is more u...more
Sam
I thoroughly enjoyed my first literary foray into the world of Nero Wolfe. I grew up with my dad reading and listening to these books, and then we watched the A&E show together often. My husband likewise enjoys the TV show so I thought I'd jump into the series.
I will start by saying that I'm not a huge fan of murder/mysteries. I like to know what is happening and I'm not a huge fan of trying to figure things out as I read. I often get frustrated and am ashamed to admit that I find myself jum...more
Adam Graham
Nero Wolfe had twice as many novels published as Sherlock before he ever broke into short fiction. However, author Rex Stout would create some of his most memorable stories in the Wolfe novellas. The first two of these are collected in Black Orchids.

Black Orchids

The title story for the collection was originally published as Death Wears an Orchid. Archie has found himself assigned to flower show duty to watch a new Black Orchid bred by Lewis Hewitt to see whether it wilts or not. Wolfe finally ma...more
Nan Silvernail
Nero Wolfe leaves his brownstone for a flower show. But not just any flower show. Someone is displaying three true Black Orchids! He has sent Archie there all the week, but he must see them himself and attempt to obtain them at any cost. Unfortunately, the cost may be far too high when a murder occurs. The Big Man may lose Archie Goodwin and more in the bargain. Great Hounds and Cerberus!

Later, a upper-society party arranger who had once insulted Wolfe by asking him to come to a theme party and...more
AM
This particular adventure is actually two unrelated cases tied only by the presents of the Black Orchids. I must admit I enjoyed the mystery of the first story, Black Orchids a bit more then the second story, Cordially Invited to Meet Death. Though I did like Archie's commentary at the end of Cordially Invited. The Nero Wolfe novels are great. I haven't read a bad one yet. I love the way Archie and Nero talk. The way Nero sometimes leaves all the details floating about for Archie to puzzle over...more
Bev Hankins
So, I finally found out how Nero Wolfe gained possession of the coveted black orchids. This had been alluded to in several of the Wolfe mysteries that I have read but I hadn't gotten my hands on a copy of Black Orchids (1941) until this past year.

Nero Wolfe sends Archie Goodwin to the flower show in downtown NYC. Not once, but every day for a whole week. Finally, Wolfe cannot stand it any longer and rather than hear Goodwin's reports on how they look he actually leaves his brownstone home to se...more
Bev Hankins
As a partner to Rex Stout's Black Orchids, I have just finished Cordially Invited to Meet Death (aka Invitation to Murder; 1942). This mystery was packaged together with Black Orchids because the orchids themselves play a minor role.

In this one Nero Wolfe is asked by Bess Huddleston, party-planner for the rich and famous, to find out who is sending anonymous messages aimed at ruining her. Wolfe sends Archie Goodwin to begin the investigation, but before Goodwin can make much headway, the famous...more
Brendan
Nero Wolfe doesn't like leaving his house. But when a rival orchid fancier brings a new hybrid "Black Orchid" to the New York Flower Show (or some such), Wolfe overcomes his agoraphobia and leaves the brownstone, only to stumble onto a murder. The second tale in this slim volume involves a return of the orchids in another case, one where Wolfe investigates not for a fee, but out of some other motive (spite for the police?). A few thoughts:

- Like all Wolfe novels, Black Orchids works best for it...more
meeners
good ol' rex stout. nero wolfe mysteries always feel to me like the secret love child of sherlock holmes and sam spade, one who grew up to star in a syndicated daytime TV series set in 1930s new york. there's always something extravagant and unreal about stout's mysteries, but that's why i like them (sometimes) - when narrated in archie goodwin's breezy, irreverent voice, they can be a good happy medium between the genteel armchair detective genre and the pulpy hardboiled one. sometimes it's nic...more
Chazzle
Ok, I'm being a little hard on this one, because I became confused at the complicated denouement. Not that it was THAT complicated, but I just didn't feel like concentrating too hard. Mea culpa, really. Probably really a 4-star book.

On the up side, Archie Goodwin really is a joy, describing the fatness, laziness, and tyranny of his boss, Nero Wolfe. A short passage with one "Johnny" talking to Wolfe in his office:

[Johnny talking] "...I contacted a young woman-as you know, I am especially effecti...more
Jon
I thought the two novellas were uneven...I enjoyed the second one more. Over all the pacing felt rushed and differentiating between the (not particularly distinctly drawn) characters was difficult at times. But it's still 182 pages with Nero Wolfe & Archie Goodwin so my complaints are overall minimal.
Michela
Ok, ok, mi manca metà libro ma in valigia non ci sta...
Nero Wolfe non delude mai, e nel primo dei due racconti, in cui si parla proprio di queste orchidee, troviamo un Archie sempre più affascinante e un Nero sempre più burbero e... morbido!
Consigliatissimo, naturalmente, anche con il secondo racconto a scatola chiusa!
Kurt Henning
This one might be one of my favorite Wolfe tales to date. The two stories contained in the book are connected only by the presence of the black orchids Wolfe commandeers as a fee; however, there is a sense of sentimentality (in a good way) in both tales. We get some genuine friction between Wolfe and Archie and even more genuine affection. We also learn that Wolfe keeps Archie around due to a debt of honor--apparently Archie saved Wolfe's life at some point in the past. The stories' narratives a...more
Sarah
Scott and I are big fans of mystery movies and have watched many of the classic detective series (Poirot, Marple, Morse, Holmes, Campion, Allen, etc), some in all versions available. Nero Wolfe was one we recently came across and we LOVED the A&E adaptation. I had never read a Rex Stout until this week but after having finished this one, I am very impressed with the screenplay writers and directors who managed to capture the essence of Stouts characters perfectly. The DVD episodes are some o...more
Tony
BLACK ORCHIDS. (1942). Rex Stout. ****.
Nero Wolfe stumbles upon a murder while at the New York Flower Show. He is there to see an exhibition of black orchids on display by one of his flower rivals. The murder occurs in one of the displays on one of the actors in the exhibit. It turns out that Archie Goodwin is the actual killer, but only by accident. This is kind of a merry-go-round of an adventure in which you not only learn about the jealousy of members of the gardeners’ groups, but a lot abou...more
Jc
Rex Stout is amusing, but I think the stories did not age well. I did have fun with it, but Doyle, Christie, Chandler, Dexter, Mosley, Mankell, and dozens of older and newer mystery authors make for much more interesting reads. Maybe it is the gimmick of having Wolfe never leave his house (and barely leave his chair) that gets to me; or maybe it is his rather obnoxious side-kick, Archie Goodwin (he tries to hard to be a fast-talking extra from a Bogart film). I recall enjoying these much more ba...more
Ali
I love the whole Nero Wolfe series. I actually started reading these books because of the mini-movie Golden Spider that appeared on AE years ago. I must have been 13, now i'm 24!

The stories are classics, set in the early 20-40's (at least that is how i imagine them), yet unabroached by the typical "it was the depression"..."it was the war" theme alot of books set in that time period seem to linger over.

The mystery is usually in the fore-front, and the characters are charming (if not slightly f...more
Ed
#9 in the Nero Wolfe series. Bad guys should know that Wolfe is serious about his orchids and should not disrupt the proceedings at a flower show where Hewitt, Wolfe's fellow orchid fancier, is showing a black orchid that Wolfe covets.

Nero Wolfe series - Contains the title novella, wherein Wolfe undertakes to find who murdered a man in an exhibit in a flower show where Hewitt was displaying his black orchids. The second novella, Cordially Invited to Meet Death, has Wolfe detecting who is smearin...more
Nancy
This classic Nero Wolfe volume contains two novellas featuring rare black orchid plants. I prefer Rex Stout's full-length novels to his short stories and novellas, but these are still alot of fun for those of us who can't get enough of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.

Perhaps the most interesting facet of the title novella, Black Orchids, is that it demonstrated just how far Wolfe would stretch to acquire an unusual orchid. (a long way!) Stout's body of work featuring Nero Wolfe paints a very compl...more
Moses Operandi
My second encounter with Rex Stout, and first with the indomitable Nero Wolfe. Infinitely preferable to the nondescript Tecumseh Fox, Wolfe dominates the pages of this book as he would, I suppose, dominate any room he deigned to enter with his "seventh of a ton." A great mystery, with a delicious twist at the end. Archie Goodwin is also a great creation; a fluent, wise-cracking narrative. All in all, it's hard to believe that this book was written in the 40s. It's readable and resonant even toda...more
Tony
CORDIALLY INVTED TO MEET DEATH. (1942). Rex Stout. ***.
This was a sleeper novel from Stout that doesn’t seem to be counted among the Nero Wolfe adventures. It was good evidence that Stout managed to write several novels in just a few weeks each. It is a clever murder mystery where the agent of death is tetanus. You will learn more about tetanus than you might want to know, but you will always find it interesting. Of course, the driving force is money – isn’t it always?
Kate
Consider me a new fan of Rex Stout and his so-famous-I-can't-believe-I've-never-read-one-before Nero Wolfe books. Just as charming and fun as I've heard. The charm is all in the cranky, corpulent Nero Wolfe, a detective who hates to leave his house and can't abide the use of contact as a verb. This book satisfied my need for interesting details, a tidy plot, and swift pacing all in a nice mystery-formula package. Like Agatha Christie, I think I could read ten of these in a row.
Sara
This is a two story book. The first story is about how Wolfe acquired black orchids and the second is about a client to whom he sent black orchids.

The first one, in particular, is wonderful. It's Archie at his best. He has breezily decided he is in love with one of the models at a flower show. And his descriptions and behavior are quintessential. Also, the moment he gives her up and his reasons for it are so Archie.
Chris Thorsrud
Growing up reading Nero Wolfe mysteries, and watching those few tv shows based on these murder mysteries, I thoroughly enjoy the cerebral Mr. Wolfe, his assistant Archie, the chef, and the intricate murderous dances performed with detail and all kinds of twists & turns. The characters seem very real, the settings vivid, and one can almost touch the orchids.
Kathrine
This book has all the elements of a Neo Wolf mystery. It has a larger than life ( literally at 300 pounds) detective who doesn't really like to be interrupted from his cushy life to work. His assistant, Archie, who is especially funny in this episode with his sarcastic jibes. The plant room where Nero grows orchids and Fritz whipping up delicious meals in the kitchen. Also appearing is Inspector Crammer of the New York City police department , who chews on cigars but never smokes them. Nero rare...more
Charles Vella
I think Archie Goodwin has become my favorite detective sidekick. I've always been a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, but have never read Nero Wolfe before now. I'm going to start going through them. Fortunately there are a lot of them.
Bill  Kerwin

Two long Nero Wolfe novellas. The title story--with Archie attending the flower show--is very good. The other--involving a high society event planner and a chimp--is less successful. But both are fun.
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine new edition of an already existing book 3 15 Jul 01, 2014 06:24AM  
  • Murder in E Minor
  • A Walk Among the Tombstones
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  • One Fearful Yellow Eye (Travis McGee #8)
  • The Case of the Baited Hook
  • The Big Sleep  and Other Novels
  • Maigret and the Man on the Bench
  • The Dain Curse
  • Death and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn, #11)
  • Mortal Stakes (Spenser, #3)
  • Love Lies Bleeding (Gervase Fen, #5)
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Rex Todhunter Stout (December 1, 1886 – October 27, 1975) was an American crime writer, best known as the creator of the larger-than-life fictional detective Nero Wolfe, described by reviewer Will Cuppy as "that Falstaff of detectives." Wolfe's assistant Archie Goodwin recorded the cases of the detective genius from 1934 (Fer-de-Lance) to 1975 (A Family Affair).

The Nero Wolfe corpus was nominated...more
More about Rex Stout...
Fer-de-Lance (Nero Wolfe, #1) Some Buried Caesar (Nero Wolfe, #6) Too Many Cooks (Nero Wolfe, #5) The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe, #2) The Doorbell Rang (Nero Wolfe, #41)

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“I saw them. It was impossible to snitch a sample."
He grunted, lowering himself into his chair. "I didn't ask you to."
"Who said you did, but you expected me to. There are three of them in a glass case and the guard has his feet glued."
"What color are they?"
"They're not black."
"Black flowers are never black. What color are they?"
"Well." I considered. "Say you take a piece of coal. Not anthracite. Cannel coal."
"That's black."
"Wait a minute. Spread on it a thin coating of open kettle molasses. That's it."
"Pfui. You haven't the faintest notion what it would look like. Neither have I."
"I'll go buy a piece of coal and we'll try it.”
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“I suspected the movies, considering her cheap crack about me being a ten-cent Clark Gable, which was ridiculous. He simpers, to begin with, and to end with no one can say I resemble a movie actor, and if they did it would be more apt to be Gary Cooper than Clark Gable.” 1 likes
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