The soft cover of the edition I read proudly states “Named One of the Century’s 100 Favorite Mysteries by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association”. Not shabby at all. I found it to be a fun read but I could not see what set it above any of the hundreds of other mysteries I’ve read from the twentieth century. In fact, I found it rather formulaic: set in an opulent nineteen-thirties community (like Agatha Christie), a sleuth that is confident to the point of arrogance (like Nelson DeMille) and a tough-talking detective that’s attractive to the ladies (like [insert any author’s name here]). There were also the selfish rich SOB and the ubiquitous femme fatale.
But as I mentioned earlier, ‘Caesar’ was enjoyable to read. The witty banter between Wolfe’s sidekick Archie Goodwin and the self-professed man-eater Lily Rowan was the hight point of the writing although hard to follow. Why did she keep telling him to kiss her in the second line of every conversation? I didn’t get it.
Rex Stout was a prolific writer and I’m certain that of his numerous works there are other mysteries more worthy of this honor than ‘Caesar’.