Black Orchids

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Black Orchids
Author Rex Stout
Cover artist Alan Harmon
Country United States
Language English
Series Nero Wolfe
Genre Detective fiction
Publisher Farrar & Rinehart
Publication date
May 21, 1942
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 272 pp. (first edition)
OCLC 4547020
Preceded by Where There's a Will
Followed by Not Quite Dead Enough

Black Orchids is a Nero Wolfe double mystery by Rex Stout published in 1942 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc. Stout's first short story collection, the volume is composed of two novellas that had appeared in abridged form in The American Magazine:

Reviews and commentary[edit]

  • Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor, A Catalogue of Crime — In the first, Wolfe and Archie are in fine form, and murder at a flower show provides a suitable background for Wolfe's talents and predatory instincts. Archie himself innocently pulls the trigger. The second story is less satisfactory, involving as it does a highly debatable move by the murderer to disarm suspicion. Besides, too many animals.[1]
  • Time, "Murder in May" (June 1, 1942) — Nero Wolfe and his ebullient amanuensis Archie Goodwin are here at top form in two "novellas" — "Black Orchids" and "Cordially Invited to Meet Death." The first concerns a cleverly contrived murder at New York's annual Flower Show. The second features an adroit bit of poisoning in the fantastic Riverdale ménage — and menagerie — of a successful party-arranger for Manhattan society. First-class entertainment.[2]

Publication history[edit]

In his limited-edition pamphlet, Collecting Mystery Fiction #9, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Part I, Otto Penzler describes the first edition of Black Orchids: "Brick brown cloth, front cover and spine printed with black; rear cover blank. Issued in a brick brown and green pictorial dust wrapper … The first edition has the publisher's monogram logo on the copyright page."[4]
In April 2006, Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine estimated that the first edition of Black Orchids had a value of between $3,000 and $5,000. The estimate is for a copy in very good to fine condition in a like dustjacket.[5]
  • 1942, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1942, hardcover
  • 1942, New York: Detective Book Club #5, August 1942, hardcover
  • 1943, London: Collins Crime Club, July 5, 1943, hardcover
  • 1943, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1943, hardcover
  • 1945, Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Company, a Tower Book, March 1945, hardcover
  • 1946, New York: Avon #95, 1946, paperback
  • 1956, New York: Avon #714, 1956, paperback
  • 1963, New York: Pyramid (Green Door) #R-917, September 1963, paperback
  • 1992, New York: Bantam Crimeline ISBN 0-553-25719-6 May 1992, trade paperback
  • 1996, Burlington, Ontario: Durkin Hayes Publishing, DH Audio, "Black Orchids" ISBN 0-88646-889-2 December 1996, audio cassette (unabridged, read by Saul Rubinek)
  • 1998, Burlington, Ontario: Durkin Hayes Publishing, DH Audio ISBN 0-88646-472-2 August 1998, audio cassette (unabridged, read by David Elias), "Cordially Invited to Meet Death"
  • 2009, New York: Bantam Dell Publishing Group (with The Silent Speaker) ISBN 978-0-553-38655-4 August 25, 2009, trade paperback
  • 2010, New York: Bantam Crimeline ISBN 0-307-75573-8 June 30, 2010, e-book


  1. ^ Barzun, Jacques and Taylor, Wendell Hertig. A Catalogue of Crime. New York: Harper & Row. 1971, revised and enlarged edition 1989. ISBN 0-06-015796-8
  2. ^ "Murder in May", Time, June 1, 1942
  3. ^ Townsend, Guy M., Rex Stout: An Annotated Primary and Secondary Bibliography (1980, New York: Garland Publishing; ISBN 0-8240-9479-4), pp. 79–80
  4. ^ Penzler, Otto, Collecting Mystery Fiction #9, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Part I (2001, New York: The Mysterious Bookshop, limited edition of 250 copies), pp. 17–18
  5. ^ Smiley, Robin H., "Rex Stout: A Checklist of Primary First Editions." Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine (Volume 16, Number 4), April 2006, p. 33

External links[edit]

Quotations related to Black Orchids at Wikiquote