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Black Orchids (Nero Wolfe #9)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  2,769 ratings  ·  104 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
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147 pages
Published (first published 1942)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Evgeny
The book consists of two novellas - Black Orchids and Cordially Invited to Meet Death - with black orchids being the only connection between them.

Black Orchids. Anybody familiar with the series knows Nero Wolfe grows orchids and would go to any lengths to acquire rare specimens, including the unthinkable like leaving his house. It is easy to imagine what he would do to get his hands on the rarest of the said plants: the black orchids. Somebody managed to grow them and put them in a big plant ex
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Una Tiers
I so love the manners of the 1940s and the digs by Archie on Wolfe.

The second story had one redeeming line: A scream is a scream.
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
Cherie
I updated my stars to five on this story. I listened to the audio again last night. This story really is one of the funniest ones I have heard! Archie's comments are over the top.

Nero actually goes out and attends a flower show. He has done it before, but Archie has never been so acerbic.
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.
Lindsay Boitnott
This is my FAVORITE Nero Wolfe story! I am sitting here grinning from ear to ear because I am so excited to share it with you! I would be dancing but I'm waiting until I finally get home to do so.

Nero Wolfe is an amateur horticulturist who strictly specializes in orchids. The entire top floor of his brownstone has been converted to a green house and he spends precisely four hours a day attending to his plants. The Black Orchids starts with Archie stuck at a Flower Show examining the main exhibit
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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
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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
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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
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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
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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I have listened to this pair of novellas twice; once read by Michael Pritchard, and more than once by Saul Rubinek (who played newspaperman Lon Cohen in the A and E TV series). I definitely prefer Rubinek's reading. While Pritchard reads clearly, his voice is metallic and lacking in inflexions.

While not my favourite of the Wolfe mysteries, Black Orchids is better than its companion piece, Cordially Invited to Meet Death. We all know what diehard gardeners can be like even if it's just at the flo
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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.
Alger
Worth the effort, and more of a 3.5 rather than a clear 3 stars.

The fundamental problem with the short story as part of a series is that the format almost demands that the author use the established idiosyncrasies of the characters as a motor for propelling the plot. With Rex Stout this requires that he put the byplay and banter that makes the usual Wolfe novel cohere on a diet and thereby turns Archie and Nero into pallid stereotypes of themselves. This reduced bulk also accentuates the thin bo
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine new edition of an already existing book 3 18 Jul 01, 2014 06:24AM  
  • Murder in E Minor
  • Everybody Dies (Matthew Scudder, #14)
  • The Big Sleep  and Other Novels
  • Buried for Pleasure (Gervase Fen, #6)
  • Cat Of Many Tails
  • The Case of the Baited Hook
  • The Dreadful Lemon Sky (Travis McGee #16)
  • Death and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn, #11)
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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
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More about Rex Stout...

Other Books in the Series

Nero Wolfe (1 - 10 of 47 books)
  • Fer-de-Lance (Nero Wolfe, #1)
  • The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe, #2)
  • The Rubber Band (Nero Wolfe, #3)
  • The Red Box (Nero Wolfe, #4)
  • Too Many Cooks (Nero Wolfe, #5)
  • Some Buried Caesar (Nero Wolfe, #6)
  • Over My Dead Body (Nero Wolfe, #7)
  • Where There's a Will (Nero Wolfe, #8)
  • Not Quite Dead Enough (Nero Wolfe, #10)
  • The Silent Speaker (Nero Wolfe, #11)
Fer-de-Lance (Nero Wolfe, #1) Too Many Cooks (Nero Wolfe, #5) Some Buried Caesar (Nero Wolfe, #6) 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.” 2 likes
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