Cherry Jubilee


Wolfe's comments from the Introduction to Storeys from the Old Hotel

"'Cherry Jubilee' is a science-fiction mystery story, among other things. Alex Schomburg gave it a marvelous illustration showing dinner aboard the spacecraft; if you're going to try to solve the mystery, you'd be wise to draw a picture -- or at least a chart -- of the same sort."


Aboard a Russian space flight to Mars, famous escapologist Merry Houdini undertakes a stunt during which her clone Cherry is killed. The protagonist Smith, an American secret agent, deduces that it was actually Merry who died, killed by Cherry, and he agrees to keep her secret if she lives with him on Mars.


  • The ship's and captain's names seem to refer to Alexander Bogdanov's novel Red Star, about a Communist utopia on Mars. Although there is no obvious thematic link.
  • The name Koroviev may be from the Devil's valet in Bulgakov's The Master and the Margarita.
  • There was a Ukranian revolutionary named Grigory Petrovsky who was interrogated by Stalin.
  • Here is the diagram Wolfe said would help solve the mystery:
  • There is one unexplained mystery which can be resolved using the diagram as Wolfe stated -- Smith noticed at dinner that Pasik and Anna paid special attention to the woman on his left. That was Cherry, and one would expect the biochemist Anna to be interested in the clone. But the intensity of their focus seems to indicate that they sense something is wrong: that Merry and Cherry have exchanged places even at the Captain's table. It is "Cherry" (actually Merry) who is interested in Smith's story of people regaining their birthright. Smith's solution is wrong. The clone assumed the dominant role of Merry in the partnership, possibly through blackmail. Merry has killed Cherry and resumed her birthright as herself. She'll play along with Smith's solution to avoid trouble.
  • With this reading, the story is correct in saying that the woman in white got into the locker and that "her clone sister" locked her in. Wolfe tries not to lie in direct narration.

Unresolved Questions

  • If the analysis above is correct, how could Cherry have forced Merry to swap identities? One possibility is the threat of revealing Merry's escapology methods. She seems vehemently opposed to revealing her methods during Oussenko's interrogation.
  • What is the implication of the final line? "But I wish I could have gotten my girl the way you got your man?"
    • She "got" her man (Smith) through personal attraction. He "got" his girl by blackmailing a murderess. Morally this is abysmal for a detective hero.

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