Nero Wolfe must track down a killer who murders his victims only during holidays and who, so far, has left Wolfe with four puzzling cases to unravel. Reissue. NYT.
Each of the four stories in this book has as its centerpiece an elaborate caper. In two of the stories Wolfe engineers a caper to extricate himself from danger; in the one the caper places him in danger; in the fourth, he is victimized by a caper and solves the mystery through sheer force of logic and deduction.
In "Christmas Party" Wolfe's fear that Archie is going to marry causes him to masquerade as Santa Claus and become prime suspect in a murder. In "Easter Parade" Wolfe's envy of a rival orchid grower causes him to stoop to petit theft and become embroiled in a murder mystery. In "Fourth of July Picnic" Wolfe discovers a murder at a picnic, attempts to flee without reporting it, and must expose the murderer before he himself gets arrested for obstructing justice. In "Murder is No Joke" Wolfe provides all the usual suspects with an ironclad alibi. How can he break an alibi that he himself provides?
Classic murder mysteries rarely bear any resemblance to reality. I've handled hundreds of homicide cases over the years, and the puzzles presented by real life homicide investigations bear no resemblance whatsoever to the puzzles presented in murder mysteries. You can imagine my pleasure on finding that Wolfe solved one of the mysteries in this book with exactly the same stratagem employed in a case that I prosecuted years ago. I've long since lost track of the investigator who solved that little mystery, but if I ever see him again, I'm certainly going to ask him if he has ever read any Nero Wolfe.
All four are murder investigations. The Ingram editorial review incorrectly implies that the killings were committed by 1 person - they're not. The cases are unrelated, and are only grouped in one volume because of a common holiday theme.
"Christmas Party" - The A&E adaptation is faithful to the story. Archie, having arranged for a day off, receives brusque instructions to cancel his plans and drive Wolfe out to Mr. Hewitt's for a special orchid powwow. He whips out a marriage license (!), with the news that he must attend his fiancee's office Christmas party that day. You've _got_ to read this one, if only for Wolfe's reaction to this. :)
"Easter Parade" - Rumor (via his gardener) has it that Millard Bynoe has bred a pink Vanda, but he refuses to admit it or display it before his wife wears a blossom for the Easter parade. Wolfe, giving in to acute orchid envy, has Archie arrange for a petty thief to steal it under cover of parade photographers. Unfortunately, that's the day that someone poisons Mrs. Bynoe, apparently with a dart shot from a fake camera.
When originally published in a magazine, the photos referred to in the text were provided in color as clues. The old hardcover edition of the book provided them in B&W; this edition omits them altogether. It's a pity, but does not detract from the story.Read more ›