Thursday, November 2, 2017

Casebook of the Black Widowers: Mini Review

Isaac Asimov, prolific science fiction author, also turned his hand to mysteries every now and then. He wrote full-length novels such as The Caves of Steel and The Robots of Dawn as well as short stories, including several collections which feature a fictional all-male club which convenes under the name of "The Black Widowers" for good food, good conversation, and a "grilling" of the latest guest. The members make a pretense of not looking for mysteries to solve, but, of course, they always wind up with a guest with a problem that needs sorted. The several members all make efforts to question the current guest and discover the answer to his mystery, but it is generally Henry, the club's waiter and honorary member, who is able to see the elements that escape the notice of the learned men around the table.

Casebook of the Black Widowers (1980) is the third collection of Asimov's club-based mysteries. Mysteries here is a very elastic term. Few of the stories actually deal with crime though there is a bit of murder and spycraft to be found--most are clever conundrums that range from witty wordplay needed to solve the riddle in a former member's will or puzzles that rely on esoteric knowledge to find solutions. The fun is in the witty repartee between the club members and watching Henry get the best of them every time. Asimov wrote these in a friendly, breezy tone that makes for a comfortable read. ★★

[Finished on 10/21/17]
This fulfills the "Spider" category on the Silver Scavenger Hunt Card.

1 comment:

Nick Senger said...

I have several collections of these Black Widower stories and I really enjoyed them, though it's been a while since I read them. I like Asimov's simple style and clever puzzles. They're always an entertaining read.