Just in case you are not familiar with the Nero Wolfe series, I like to start with an overview.
Rex Stout wrote 33 novels and 41 novellas about the private detective Nero Wolfe and his assistant, Archie Goodwin. Nero Wolfe is a genius, a lover of orchids and fine food, who supports himself (and his household) as a private detective. Archie Goodwin, the narrator of the stories, is both his assistant and a private investigator, and he does most of the legwork. They live in a New York brownstone and share the house with Theodore, the plant expert, and Felix, Wolfe's cook. The series began in 1934 with Fer-de-Lance; the last book in the series, A Family Affair, was published in 1975, shortly before Stout's death. Over the forty plus years this series was published, the protagonists did not age at all, but they were always placed within the context of the time that the book was written.
The Wolfe Pack site, Wolfe leaves his home in 34 of the 74 Nero Wolfe stories; some of those excursions are brief and he stays within New York City. Some Buried Caesar is one of two novels that I can remember where Wolfe and Archie are away from the brownstone from the beginning to the end of the book. (The other is Too Many Cooks.) Thus while Nero and Archie are away from home, we don't get the interactions with Fritz and Theodore, and he and Archie are on their own, without help from the freelance private eyes they frequently call on. I like that aspect of this book because of the variation from the norm and because it brings Archie and Nero into an environment that they know little about.
Another problem Wolfe has is he is afraid of riding in cars. He doesn't trust any driver other than Archie, and he sits in the back seat and hangs on for dear life even when Archie is driving. This book begins with a car accident while Archie is driving Wolfe to an exposition where Wolfe will display some of his prize orchids. The car has run off the road due to a flat tire at 55 mph, so the results are quite damaging to the car, although both Archie and Wolfe escape shaken but not harmed. The ensuing comments from Wolfe and Archie are quite humorous, and the events that follow lead Wolfe to his next case.
Wolfe volunteers Archie to help guard the bull so that they can stay at Pratt's luxurious home rather than in crowded motel quarters in Crowfield, and there is a murder nearby where Archie is guarding the bull. As usual, Wolfe does not jump in to investigate the murder, but eventually he is dragged into the investigation by circumstances.
I love so many things about Some Buried Caesar. It is the book that introduces Lily Rowan. The other characters and their relationships are developed well. I love the scenes at the eatery at the exhibition. Archie is arrested and spends a night in the local jail; the scenes there are wonderful.
This sample provides an interaction with Lily Rowan and revolves around food, which plays a big part in almost any Nero Wolfe mystery. Archie is going to meet Lily for lunch at the "Methodist grub-tent":
Believe it or not, she was there, at a table against the canvas wall toward the rear. I pranced across the sawdust, concealing my amazement. Dressed in a light tan jersey thing, with a blue scarf and a little blue hat, among those hearty country folk she looked like an antelope in a herd of Guernseys. I sat down across the table from her and told her so. She yawned and said that what she had seen of antelopes' legs made it seem necessary to return the compliment for repairs, and before I could arrange a comeback we were interrupted by a Methodist lady in white apron who wanted to know what we would have.
Lily Rowan said, "Two chicken fricassee 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.”
Archie later brings Wolfe to the tent to taste the chicken dumplings and they return at least one more time during the exhibition. Lily Rowan and Archie have a long-term relationship with no strings attached, as Lily is a very independent and wealthy woman. For some reason, perhaps because I like Archie's relationship with Lily so much, I thought she featured in many more of the stories than she does. I am on a mission to document which stories she shows up in, even if only briefly.
This is one of my favorite Nero Wolfe stories, and is highly regarded by many other readers also, but it is not a typical Nero Wolfe mystery. Wolfe and Archie are out of their element in the rural setting and mingling with ranchers and cattle breeders.
See other thoughts on this book at Dear Author, Vintage Pop Fictions, My Reader's Block, and A Hot Cup of Pleasure.
Source: I have six paperback editions but this is the one I read this time:
Publisher: Pyramid, 1963 (orig. publ. 1939)
Length: 190 pages
Series: Nero Wolfe #6
Setting: Rural New York