One (so far) of the 3 short stories herein has been adapted by A&E. Apart from the introduction by Judith Kelman added to the paperback edition, the book is pure Stout.
"The Gun with Wings" - Alberto Mion, top tenor at the Met, had several reasons to die, whether suicide or murder. His alleged seduction of Clara James provoked her father into hitting Mion in the throat so hard that he needed an operation even to hope to sing again. He'd lost thousands of dollars in recording contracts and tours even in four months out of action. His wife wanted to leave him for Fred Weppler, the Gazette's music critic. But the police crossed it off as suicide, finding the gun on the floor beside him and a bullet through the roof of his mouth.
But Peggy Mion and Fred Weppler still have a problem: they know the gun wasn't beside the body when they found it, and they want Wolfe to find the murderer so they can stop suspecting each other.
Some high points: an attitude toward suing for damages that's an historical exhibit; Wolfe's all-time record in high-handedness in squeezing information out of clients; and a completely fair puzzle.
"Bullet for One" - Sigmund Keyes took a ride in the park 5 days a week. On the day of his death, he left the stable at 0630, passed a mounted cop at 0710 who knew him and his horse by sight, but his horse came in riderless half an hour later. A wealthy industrial designer, shot out of the saddle in sight of the Empire State Building, means a tailor-made media circus. Of the 6 suspects, 5 have now come to Wolfe, at least 4 ganging up on the 6th (who appears just after Wolfe, err, 'asks' them to stay to dinner for a grilling session afterwards). "I am hired to get facts." "Sure, the real facts." "There is no other kind. I guarantee not to deliver any unreal facts."
The suspects: Ferdinand Pohl (financed Keyes' start) and Dorothy Keyes (daughter), who inherit; Frank Broadyke (competitor; defendant in a lawsuit just begun by the victim for industrial espionage); Annie "Audrey" Rooney (just-fired secretary of Victor Talbott); Wayne Safford (courting Audrey, works at the stable); and Victor Talbott (Dorothy's fiance, the preferred murderer of the other four).
To balance the dry timetables of the murder and the six alibis, we have lots of catfights between the clients, Cramer going ape because Wolfe's messing around with a high-profile case, and a smart-aleck mounted patrolman who can compete with Archie.
"Disguise for Murder" - I recommend the excellent adaptation by A&E with Timothy Hutton as Archie. Wolfe has opened the plant rooms for the afternoon to the Manhattan Flower Club, but neither he nor Archie realized how troublesome it would be. Wolfe hadn't realized there would be (gasp!) *women* in the club, and Archie hadn't realized how few would be a treat for the eyes. Archie, therefore, was bound to notice Cynthia Brown, virtually the only attractive young woman in the place, even if she hadn't gone down to Wolfe's office to speak with Archie when he went AWOL.
Cynthia is a woman of many names - a con artist, in fact. Today, though, she wants to give it all up and go legit - because she just recognized the man she believes strangled her friend Doris Hatten a few months ago. "I wouldn't have recognized him if he hadn't had a hat on, and then he looked at me and saw what was happening." She wants Wolfe and Archie to help her put the creep away, without winding up in jail herself. Unfortunately, disaster strikes before Archie can get Wolfe downstairs to speak with her.
And to add injury to the insult of a murder in the office, Cramer seals it. Client or no client, Wolfe is motivated. :)