This edition actually contains two novellas, along with an introduction by Lawrence Block, a noted author of crime novels. Black orchids (the flowers) appear in both novellas, but they are otherwise unrelated, other than having in common Nero Wolfe and his able assistant, Archie Goodwin. I read this book to get a handle on real
Nero Wolfe stories so as to see if some of the stylistic tics that appeared in Alan Vanneman's Three Bullets
, were Vanneman's own stylistic tics or actual mimicking of Stout himself.
These two stories, themselves, weren't particularly interesting or memorable, and now, a few weeks later, I can barely remember them. One of our friends in Pittsburgh, back a number of decades ago, was a big Wolfe fan. I'm not sure why. I doubt I'll be reading any more Wolfe stories any time soon. Part of the reason, I think, is because Wolfe is such an egotistical asshole. I have enough egotistical assholes in my life; I don't need to read about them. Black Orchids
Wolfe is hired to investigate some blight that is beginning to run rampant at a flower show. Was the introduction of the blight intentional or inadvertent? Wolfe agrees to investigate, but only if he is given some rare black orchids. Wolfe then sends his assistant Archie Goodwin off to the flower show to keep an eye on things. Mostly, Archie keeps an eye on a particular exhibit in which a shepherd and a nymph cavort in a glade (something like that). The nymph has nice legs that she dangles enticingly in a pool. Archie decides he wants to marry her. The shepherd naps under a newspaper each day at a certain time. But one day, the shepherd doesn't wake up. He's been murdered. Eventually, Wolfe/Archie finger whodunnit. Cordially Invited to Meet Death
I've pretty much completely forgotten this one. Something about a society lady who supports herself throwing fancy parties for the idle rich.