The Return of the Black Widowers

The Return of the Black Widowers

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by Isaac Asimov
     
 

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Until his death in 1992, author Isaac Asimov would write more than 120 ingenious tales of detection and deduction, and in 66 of them he would present his armchair detectives, the Black Widowers, with the mind-teasing puzzles that they would strive to solve in often-quarrelsome conversation. The Black Widowers club is meeting again. In a private dining room at New

Overview


Until his death in 1992, author Isaac Asimov would write more than 120 ingenious tales of detection and deduction, and in 66 of them he would present his armchair detectives, the Black Widowers, with the mind-teasing puzzles that they would strive to solve in often-quarrelsome conversation. The Black Widowers club is meeting again. In a private dining room at New York's luxurious Milano restaurant, the six brilliant men once more gather for fine fare served impeccably by their peerless waiter, Henry. At table, too, will of course be that requisite dinner guest to challenge their combined deductive wit: a man whose marriage hinges on finding a lost umbrella; a woman shadowed by an adversary who knows her darkest secrets; a debunker of psychics unable to explain his unnerving experience in a haunted house; or a symphony cellist accused of attacking his wife with a kitchen knife. In addition to six stories that have never before appeared in any collection, this volume includes the ten best-ever Black Widowers cases, among them the very first to be published, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, as well as the first brand new Black Widowers story to appear in more than ten years.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fans of Asimov's Black Widower brain-teasers, which typically turn on wordplay and subtle observation, will welcome this sixth (and first posthumous) collection in this diverting series. The book includes Shamus nominee Ardai's choices of the 10 best Black Widower stories, six previously uncollected tales and more. In each tale, the six members of the Black Widowers club gather to dine, socialize and take a crack at solving a puzzle posed by an invited guest. Invariably, the highly literate and intelligent group-an artist, a patent lawyer, a cryptographer, a math teacher, a chemist and a mystery writer (whose real-life counterparts from Asimov's circle of science-fiction colleagues Harlan Ellison identifies in his foreword)-falls short of success, and their Jeeves-like waiter, Henry, effortlessly points out the often obvious clues they overlooked. The mysteries the club tackles range from murder to theft to the seemingly inexplicable disappearance of an umbrella into a space warp. Most are locked-room or impossible crimes, and since the author bends over backwards to play fair, many readers will easily be able to anticipate the solutions. These old-fashioned puzzle stories may not have much substance, but they never fail to entertain. (Dec. 8) Forecast: Expect crossover from fans of Asimov's SF who may have been unaware of his mystery fiction. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Just because you're dead is no reason to let a long-running short-story franchise wither. Asimov, who passed away over ten years ago, always kept two typewriters going at the same time, so it's no surprise that reams of his material still await collection. These six tales, like their predecessors (Puzzles of the Black Widowers, 1989, etc.), involve a set of fusty graybeards who pose unsolved riddles after a clubby dinner served by the estimable Henry. Their-ultimately Henry's-expertise is applied to cases concerning Batman, anonymous letters, a wayward umbrella, a harassed cellist's wife, the name on a credit card, and a note on a hatband deposited in a cloakroom. Amiable and modestly puzzling though these anecdotes are, half a dozen of them hardly fill out a book, so editor Ardai adds a batch of ten previously collected Black Widowers tales that focus on peace of mind, final-exam questions, Daylight Savings Time, un-psychic phenomena, an unbeautiful British stamp, puns and anagrams, a Wordsworth sonnet, a redhead sitting in a restaurant, the occupants of a house, and an old man's library. To round things off, Ardai also includes William Brittain's "The Man Who Read Isaac Asimov," which makes use of the Black Widowers' skills, and his own "The Last Story," which sets the group a case of disputed authorship. Perfect for short train rides, waiting rooms, and those who favor talk-talk-talk with a modicum of description.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786716517
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/09/2005
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
335
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.93(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author


Isaac Asimov wrote more than 400 books on topics ranging from abstract mathematics to the Bible not to mention two mystery novels and nine collections of mystery short stories.
Charles Ardai is a Shamus-nominated mystery writer, editor of numerous anthologies, and creator of the internet service Juno. He lives in New York City.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
January 20, 1920
Date of Death:
April 6, 1992
Place of Birth:
Petrovichi, Russia
Place of Death:
New York, New York
Education:
Columbia University, B.S. in chemistry, 1939; M.A. in chemistry, 1941; Ph.D. in biochemistry, 1948

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The Return of the Black Widowers 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a fantastic book -- at their best, Isaac Asimov's Black Widowers stories are truly brilliant, and this book collects ten of the very best, along with six 'lost' Black Widowers stories that never appeared in any Black Widowers collection during Asimov's lifetime. Harlan Ellison contributed an introduction you won't be able to read without crying, and there are other treats, too, including an essay by Asimov about how he started writing the Black Widowers stories and a new Black Widowers story by this book's editor, Charles Ardai. Very highly recommended.