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Gene

Gene

And Four to Go

And Four to Go - Jane Haddam, Rex Stout The anthology consists of four novellas:

Christmas Party.

Grumpy Santa
This probably is the most unusual beginning of all stories from the series. Nero Wolfe wants Archie Goodwin to drive him to meet an orchid expect. Archie Wants to go to a Christmas party his female friend invited him to. Nero Wolfe persists in his wants. Archie produces his own marriage license and says he need to go to the party and does so. Dead body promptly made an appearance and both detectives became personally involved in the case. At least their Christmas is neither lonely nor boring.

This story has one much unexpected twist which caught both Archie and me - during my first read - completely off guard; very nicely done.

Easter Parade.

Orchids
Nero Wolfe heard a rumor another orchid enthusiast managed to grow an orchid with ideal "flamingo pink" color. The enthusiast denies rumors, but Wolfe is convinced it is true. He is also convinced the orchid would make an appearance at Easter parade and he will stop at nothing, including petty theft, to see it for himself. He did not expect to get a dead body attached to the said orchid as an additional bonus, but this is exactly what he received. Two detectives became personally involved in the case yet again.

Wolfe's obsession with seeing the rare orchid specimen makes this story. If you have any doubts about the outcome, I will spoil for you: fear not, he ends up with a live plant.

Fourth of July Picnic.

Fourth of July
A restaurant union leader made a deal with Nero Wolfe: if the latter makes a speech at Fourth of July picnic the former stops bugging Wolfe's cook Fritz into joining the union. Wolfe arrives at the gathering only to find a dead body waiting for him to investigate and a very limited number of suspects.

This is probably the first and the last time when Wolfe himself has the honor of finding a corpse; usually it is Archie who finds them in droves due to his activities.

Murder is No Joke.

Fashion
The picture above shows exactly what I imagine first when the subject of high fashion comes up. Back to the story: a sister of high fashion designer came to Nero Wolfe asking him to help rid her brother off a woman who seems to have way too much influence over him suspecting blackmail is involved. No sooner Wolfe agrees to act - in his case it always means he sends Archie to act - a dead body drops by to say hi. Wolfe gets very suspicious about the circumstances.

One of the times when Wolfe could not leave seemingly obvious case along because he feels somebody was trying to make a fool of him. His self-esteem cannot allow it, so Archie gets to go and stir the hornet's nest.

The common theme of these stories (other than the obvious fact that the first three take place during big holidays) is that the Manhattan detective received exactly zero dollars total for all his troubles, speaking of which most of the times they were of his own doing - or Archie's acting on his behalf.

Due to the short length of all novellas there were no long and involved investigations by the detectives, but the character interactions really shined, as it is usually the case. This is an entertaining read rated with 4 stars.