By Rex Stout

A remarkably infrequent black orchid at a flower exhibit lures Nero Wolfe from his cozy brownstone. yet ahead of the detective and his sidekick, Archie Goodwin, can cease and odor the roses, a diabolically bold homicide places a blight at the court cases. The assassin to be weeded out is easily no longer a garden-variety killer. Wolfe should also throw his massive weight into one other thorny case, this one regarding a wealthy society widow bedeviled by means of poison-pen letters -- and a toxic plot as black as Wolfe's orchids with roots much more twisted. "Like the orchids he so avidly cultivates, Nero Wolfe is one among secret writing's so much prized ornamentals." (B-O-T Editorial overview Board)

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Sample text

I got behind some dames not tall enough to obstruct the view. Mumblety-peg was over, and Harry was making a slingshot and Anne was knitting. What she was working on didn't look as if it might be something I would be able to use, but anyway what I was interested in was her and not her output, which is a normal and healthy attitude during courtship. She sat there on the grass knitting as if there were no one within miles. Harry was nothing like as good an actor as she was. He didn't look at the spectators' faces, and of course he said nothing, since it was all pantomime and neither of them ever spoke, but by movements and glances he gave it away that he was conscious of the audience every minute.

G. Dill, who didn't leave his chair. "It seems to me-" Lewis Hewitt began sarcastically. "Pooh," I said. "You cavaliers. I wouldn't harm a hair of her head. Don't you suppose the Inspector had thought of that? I know how his mind works-" "Can it," Cramer growled. " His eyes were narrowed at me. "We'll discuss that a little later, when I'm through with Miss Tracy. " "Long enough to reach. " I shook my head. " Cramer looked around. "If there's a room where I can go with Miss Tracy-" The man who had been writing at a desk stood up.

I was proud of her. Harry was stretched out in the usual spot for his nap, his head on a grassy mound alongside the rocks and bushes, with a newspaper over his face. The audience was chattering. Anne kicked water onto a cluster of flowers that hung over the pool, and glistening drops fell from the petals. "Charming," Hewitt said. "Delightful," Wolfe said. "Archie, will you kindly take these plants? Be very careful-" Pretending not to hear him, I moved off to the right. Partly I thought he needed some ignoring, but also I wanted to get a better look at Harry's right leg and foot.

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