Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cordially Invited to Meet Death: Review

As a partner to Rex Stout's Black Orchids, I have just finished Cordially Invited to Meet Death (aka Invitation to Murder; 1942). This mystery was packaged together with Black Orchids because the orchids themselves play a minor role.In this one Nero Wolfe is asked by Bess Huddleston, party-planner for the rich and famous, to find out who is sending anonymous messages aimed at ruining her. Wolfe sends Archie Goodwin to begin the investigation, but before Goodwin can make much headway, the famous hostess is dead from an innocent case of tetanus. Or so it seems. Her brother is adamant that she has been murdered, but it isn't until Inspector Cramer rudely drags the brother away from an invitation to the Wolfe dinner table that our detective becomes involved. Another murderous attempt using the same method is all it takes for Wolfe to have all the facts at his fingertips and once again he hands Cramer the murderer and necessary evidence after a final showdown in Wolfe's office.

I found this second mystery to be much better plotted than Black Orchids. A nifty little murder method and a murderer that I never least not seriously. It made for a very pleasant afternoon of reading. Four and a half stars.

Oh and the orchids? Wolfe sends them as a funeral offering for his deceased client. He doesn't give up those black orchids for just anyone...


Yvette said...

Love, love, LOVE Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe! Thanks for a great review. I've read all the Nero Wolfe books, novels and short stories. But I never can remember the short stories (or most of the books, for that matter, at least without a prompt), thanks for the reminder. :)

Anonymous said...

I love Cordially too. My only complaint is that I recall it being more graphic than usual, death-wise. Maybe I'm weird :-) but for some reason I was a lot more squeamish about the tetanus and shards of glass than I usually am about fatal gunshot wounds. And the ones where the victim is strangled are usually creepier in their descriptions that the gun ones. Still, they're all worth reading, usually for a second or third time.