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Murder never goes out of fashion

The Mystery of the Three Orchids

By Augusto de Angelis

Pushkin Vertigo

Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date: 9 August 2016


I always enjoy classic mysteries, especially ones that are unusual. The Mystery of the Three Orchids has the feel of a 1940s film complete with gangsters, a femme fatale and an eccentric but brilliant detective.

Everything begins when Cristiana O'Brian discovers a body in her bed, strangled, an orchid placed nearby. Downstairs, her new fashion collection is being unveiled, the event attended by the wealthy and influential of Milan. Is it more than a coincidence that Cristiana's ex husband and his sister have arrived in Milan? Inspector DI Vicenzi is known for his brilliance and reliance on psychology, but O'Brian's fashion house poses a unique puzzle. So many secrets but which ones are related to the murders?

The Mystery of the Three Orchids is ingeniously conceived. Though the killer's motive was simple, the plot and execution were complex, easily concealing his/her identity amongst a multitude of red herrings. Inspector DI Vicenzi is an amiable lead, not easily distracted by the trappings of wealth and prestige. Justice is his foremost goal, as opposed to a tidy or convenient solution. (It is no surprise that while Angelis was a popular author, his writing was not appreciated by the fascists leading Italy at the time)

Like many mysteries of its time, The Mystery of the Three Orchids is "civilized" with any hint of violence left curtained off from view. The Mystery of the Three Orchids is also intriguing as its setting is one dominated by women, and only a small handful of the characters are male. In a sense, Inspector DI Vicenzi has to navigate an unfamiliar world, as well as uncover a killer. Remember this is a reprint of a novel released prior to 1940. In The Mystery of the Three Orchids, Angelis gave his readers a stunning puzzle and an innovative setting.

It is a pleasure to see this classic translated and released in ebook form for the enjoyment of a new generation of mystery lovers. If you enjoy classic mysteries, The Mystery of the Three Orchids will delight you.


I received a copy of The Mystery of the Three Orchids from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



Death is in the air at one of Milan's great fashion houses. As a new collection is unveiled, and the wealthy rub shoulders with the glamorous, owner Cristiana O'Brian escapes upstairs to discover the strangled body of her servant slumped on her bed - a single orchid by his side.

When Inspector Di Vicenzi is called in to investigate, the brilliant detective is puzzled; why is Cristiana behaving so suspiciously? And what is her estranged exhusband doing there? As two further corpses appear, each accompanied by an orchid, Di Vicenzi must see through dirty tricks and slippery clues in order to uncover the real killer.

Augusto De Angelis's notorious sleuth returns in a cryptic murder mystery teeming with blackmail,

deceit and revenge.

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