Black Orchids

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For the novella by Rex Stout, see Black Orchids (novella).
For the film, see Black Orchids (film).
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