“Three Doors To Death” is a trio of novellas by Rex Stout which feature the deductive talents of oversized private investigator Nero Wolfe. It was first collected and published in one volume in 1950. Archie Goodwin is the assistant and narrator of stories who often has to goad his employer into working. They reside in a brownstone on W 35th Street in New York City. Wolfe is as curmudgeonly and eccentric as they come. He rarely leaves the comforts of his home. Business is not to be discussed at mealtime, and nothing is to get in the way of his care for the orchids planted on the roof.
This is not a series where the main characters are subject to change or grow, but it’s a fun series to read in spite of the implausibility of it all.
“Man Alive” is the first story in this little volume where Wolfe and Archie find that a faked death is the prelude to a real murder in the world of fashion. A young heiress is under scrutiny for the death of her uncle who was thought to have killed himself earlier. I found this to be the strongest story in this set.
“Omit Flowers” has Wolfe doing a favor for a friend to solve the murder of a public relations supervisor for a restaurant chain known as Ambrosia. The police have a suspect, but Wolfe is convinced that he should make sure that the right man is on the hook. It’s not a bad story but nothing too outstanding. That’s rather par for the course for this story.
“Door to Death” concludes this collection and has Wolfe getting more exercise than usual. He and Archie need to find a substitute for the man who cares for Wolfe’s precious orchids. They have to leave the city to interview a potential replacement when a dead woman is discovered in the greenhouse. This story is fairly unique in that Wolfe himself makes a rare excursion outside of his brownstone.
One of the more amusing features is a foreword where Archie reminds the reader that his formidable employer does not solve murders for the thrill of it. In two of the stories, Wolfe doesn’t receive any monetary award for his efforts, however he doesn’t habitually exercise his superior brainpower unless his accounts are going to see some replenishment.
It’s a good enough addition to the series with some amusing quips and banter. Even if the plots are by the numbers, the interactions between the main protagonists and others who encounter them whether they need help or questioning are enjoyable enough for me to recommend this or any other opportunity to meet Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.
I will be next be trying out the debut novel of an Amarillo author by the name of R. Rachel Guana entitled “The Thinking Log”. I hope it’s good because I have met this lady, and she seems nice.