Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Some Buried Caesar" by Rex Stout

It is incredible to me that a book, not a “classic” or “literature” but a mere pulp crime caper, that is 75 years old can feel so contemporary. Or at the very least “relevant.” In “Some Buried Caesar” Wolfe is again on the road away from his sanctuary when he encounters murder. In this case we seem to have less detective work and more shenanigans on Goodwin’s part. He tangles with the local authorities. He tangles with Lily Rowan, for the very first time.

What is most interesting about this case is the ethical conundrum of Wolfe’s behavior. Especially in the little game I like to play where Nero Wolfe represents the church. The reason there is so little detection on this case is that Wolfe has the whole puzzle solved from the very start. He knows who the murderer is; even better stated he knows that a murder has occurred when no one else does. And yet he does nothing to inconvenience himself until he has a financial reason to do so. How does that strike you, dear reader?

In the end, Wolfe does bring the murderer to justice, of course. And to be fair he and Goodwin are so far ahead of the local law intellectually speaking it is doubtful that they really could have done anything more direct or traditionally civic. But, even in intellectual exercises one does not like to think of the church being aloof or indifferent to the problems in the world around it.

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