A Nero Wolfe Mystery – Disguise for Murder

by Alan Rapp on January 8, 2019

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: A Nero Wolfe Mystery – Disguise for Murder
  • IMDb: link

A Nero Wolfe Mystery - Disguise for Murder television review

Today’s Throwback Tuesday post takes us back to mid 20th Century New York and the private detective offices located at 454 W. 35th Street. During a reception for showing off his orchids, a potential client is killed in Nero Wolfe‘s (Maury Chaykin) study. A thief tied to an unsolved murder which has baffled the police, Cynthia Brown (Kathryn Zenna) pleads with Archie (Timothy Hutton) to see Wolfe. However, by the time the detective reaches his study the con woman has been strangled by a mystery man in a hat whose path she crossed during the reception. Suspects held for Inspector Kramer (Bill Smitrovich) to question include the dead woman’s brother (Nicholas Campbell), several older couples, and a psychiatrist (Richard Waugh), but the murderer’s identity proves to be none of the men on the guest list leaving the police vexed but Wolfe with a clever idea as how to smoke out the killer (whose identity only he has surmised from Archie’s recounting of his conversation with Cynthia Brown).

The episode plays on the well-established rivalry between Cramer and Wolfe. The Inspector’s choice to cordon off the office rankles Wolfe into not sharing the key piece of evidence to help locate the killer. When revealed at the end, a dumbfounded Cramer is forced to storm out of the offices rather than admit any error on his part. There are quite a few unusual twists and turns in “Disguise for Murder” from how Wolfe gets the case, to the unusual night Archie spends trying to nab Wolfe’s suspect (including long drives in the snow, secret notes, and getting tied to a chair and shot), and of course the reveal of the “man” behind the killings turning out to be a woman (Debra Monk). As with the previous episode of the series, “Disguise for Murder” is framed in a flashback told during a card game among Wolfe’s regulars and Lon Cohen (Saul Rubinek).

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