Returning to Nero Wolfe, especially in summer when reading must be squeezed between travels and visitors, is irresistible. He’s comfort food for the brain. You know Wolfe is sure to infuriate Inspector Cramer; you know Archie Goodwin will notice any good looking woman as he races about the city picking up clues.
In Murder by the Book, three seemingly unrelated murders have been committed. Thinking his characteristic deep thoughts, Wolfe ascertains they are somehow connected to an unpublished manuscript. The law clerk who wrote the novel, the editor who rejected it and the typist who typed it – all dead.
Nero Wolfe fans know the great seventh of a ton man loves his orchids above all else, except maybe Fritz Brenner’s mouth-watering meals. So it’s amazing that he reluctantly agrees when Archie says he needs a boatload of orchids to romance all the female employees of a certain law firm. Archie cuts 48 orchids for 16 women, boxes them up in tissue and ribbons and adds the following note to each box.
“These orchids are so rare that they can’t be bought. I picked them for you. If you care to know why, phone me at PE3-1212. Archie Goodwin”
The dinner for 16 women in Wolfe’s townhouse on West 35th street begins the meandering search that leads as far as Los Angles and a fourth murder before a trap can be set for the killer. Nero Wolfe’s willingness to sacrifice some rare Cattleyas, Brassos and Laelios and Archie Goodwin’s canny courage combine to nab their man. When this private detective is on the case, no perpetrator is safe and no reader is disappointed.