Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Black Widowers stories by Isaac Asimov

According to the Wikipedia article:
The Black Widowers is a fictional men-only dining club created by Isaac Asimov, for a series of sixty-six mystery stories, which he wrote starting in 1971. . . .
The stories always follow the same convention: the six club members and a guest sit down to dinner, served by the incomparable waiter, Henry Jackson (almost invariably referred to as simply Henry). During the meal it always comes out that the guest has a problem which varies from the personal to actual crimes. The club members try to solve the problem, raising various issues in the course of the conversation but are unable to come to an actual conclusion. In the end, it is Henry, who is highly-regarded by the club members, who provides the correct, and usually very simple, answer, obtained from aspects of the conversation. Asimov intended them to always follow that pattern.
I recently read my second out of the six published collections of these stories (or five and a half, maybe).

I enjoy these stories a great deal. They are very light reading, something to be taken up when you've just finished something heavy (I had just finished The Dispossessed when I picked this one up). While I sometimes don't think the solutions to the mysteries are fair--they can rely on outside information Asimov assumes everyone has--I still enjoy the manner in which the stories are told, through the interactions among the members of the Black Widowers. In all, the series warrants a score of 3 out of 5 stars.

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