Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Some Buried Caesar

Some Buried Caesar. Nero Wolfe Mystery. Rex Stout. 1938. Random House. 288 pages.

That sunny September day was full of surprises. 

Some Buried Caesar is my third Rex Stout mystery. And I am just LOVING Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. I am. I can officially call it love now. For Some Buried Caesar may just be my favorite yet. (The other two that I've read are The Silent Speaker and The Black Orchid.)

So Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe are "on vacation" you might say. They've taken some of Wolfe's orchids to an exhibition or fair where there will be judged. Many, many things are being judged--including livestock. So on their way, Archie has a car accident. The two decide--after some disagreement--that together they will walk to the nearest house to phone for help. But there's one little problem that becomes a big problem--the two decide to take a short cut through a pasture. Turns out the fence was there for a very good reason. A bull. A bull who sees Nero and Archie as threats? Or maybe just good fun? Anyway, Archie manages to reach the other side of the fence--in time. But Nero is stuck on a big rock--safe enough for the moment. But. Not safe enough to be *really* relaxed. He gets a GOOD LOOK at the bull while he's waiting to be rescued.

Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin just happen to stumble into a controversial mess. The bull in question is a prize bull destined--if all goes according to plan, the plan of his new owner--to be barbecued for a big, big party. An advertising scheme perhaps for this rich restaurant owner? Regardless, there are a handful of people that are very angry--violently angry perhaps?--about the fate of Hickory Caesar Grindon. How far will they go to "protect" this bull?

This may not sound like a great mystery--like a great book. But it is. It really is. I just loved so many things about this one! I loved the narrative voice. I loved the detail. How everything in this story comes together. I loved seeing Nero Wolfe become more involved in this case. We get to see him play  more of a questioning role perhaps? Though Archie Goodwin is still plenty busy! Anyway, I loved seeing the relationship between Archie and Nero. There was just something so delightful, so charming, so satisfying about this one!

I would definitely recommend this one! I think it would be a great place to start!

Archie Goodwin:

No man was ever taken to hell by a woman unless he already had a ticket in his pocket, or at least had been fooling around with timetables. (47)
Lily Rowan to Archie Goodwin:

Lily Rowan said, "Two chicken fricasee with dumplings."
"Wait a minute," I protested. "It says there they have beef pot roast and veal--"
"No." Lily was firm. "The fricassee with dumplings is made by a Mrs. Miller whose husband has left her four times on account of her disposition and returned four times on account of her cooking and is still there. So I was told yesterday by Jimmy Pratt. (79)

Nero Wolfe:

"There is no other form of human activity quite so impertinent as a competent murder investigation, and I fear you're not equipped to tolerate. Abandon the idea. You can mail me a check at your convenience--" 
"I'm going on with it.""Then prepare yourself for annoyance, intrusion, plague, the insolence of publicity--" (95)

Archie Goodwin:

In all ordinary circumstances Wolfe's cocky and unlimited conceit prevents the development of any of the tender sentiments, such as compassion for instance, but that afternoon I felt sorry for him. He was being compelled to break some of his most ironclad rules. He was riding behind strange drivers, walking in crowds, obeying a summons from a prospective client, and calling upon a public official, urged on by his desperate desire to find a decent place to sit down. (96)

Nero Wolfe:

"I am careful with my opinions, sir; they are my bread and butter and the main source of my self-esteem." (105)

Nero Wolfe:

"Tell me anyway. Of course I'm impertinent, but I'll have to decide if I'm also irrelevant." (120)

Lily Rowan to Archie Goodwin:

"Kiss me."
"I can't until I wash my face. Anyway, I told you that wasn't a precedent. I have to be careful. I kissed a girl once in the subway and when she came to she was on top of the Empire State Building. She had floated out through a grating and right on up."
"Goodness. Did you ever send one clear to heaven?"
"The place is full of them." (226)

Archie Goodwin to the local police (or perhaps the district attorney?):

"You have no judgment. It's perfectly true that there are people who can be opened up by making faces at them and talking loud, but if I was one of them how long do you think I'd last as Nero Wolfe's favorite employee, eating with him at his table?" (234)

Barrow to Nero Wolfe:

"Look here, Wolfe," he said in a nasty tone. "I've concluded you're no better than a waste of time, and probably worse." (236)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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