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The Union Club Mysteries by Isaac Asimov

The Union Club Mysteries (original 1983; edition 1985)

by Isaac Asimov

Series: Union Club

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292338,453 (3.63)3
Title:The Union Club Mysteries
Authors:Isaac Asimov
Info:Fawcett (1985), Mass Market Paperback, 211 pages
Collections:Your library, 2007-Read

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The Union Club Mysteries by Isaac Asimov (1983)



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This anthology collected the first 30 stories from a monthly series of mystery shorts Asimov wrote for Eric Potter at Gallery magazine. The frame story for the series is a group of four men who sit together at their club. One of their number claims to have a background in intelligence, and has a habit of telling stories about problems he has solved for the police and intelligence services. The problems are typically in the form of lateral thinking puzzles, and Griswold invariably finishes by commenting that the answer was obvious, and waiting for his companions to admit that they can't work it out before giving them the answer (thus also giving the reader a chance to try to work it out before the answer is revealed). With only 2000 words to play with each month, the stories are of necessity fairly pared down and low on characterisation. They're often great fun, and I find it entertaining to watch the ongoing frame story about the narrator and his two friends trying to decide whether Griswold is telling the truth about his past or pulling their legs; but if you don't like bad puns you won't like a fair few of these little mysteries, and some of them have dated badly.

I enjoyed the collection, though it's more of a book for dipping into occasionally than reading all the way through in one sitting. I find them excellent for when I want something that will occupy me for five or ten minutes without making it difficult for me to put down the book at the end of a chapter. The collection has kept me entertained through more than a few bouts of 3 am insomnia when I wanted something light and short to focus on that I could put down again as soon as I felt sleepy.

It's not really worth going to a lot of effort to lay hands on a copy, but if one comes your way it's well worth trying a few of the stories. ( )
  JulesJones | Jan 2, 2010 |
This is not Asimov's greatest collection of mysteries. They're all very short stories (with the wrapping story set in the early 1980s and the core mystery between the 1940s and then) that invite the reader to figure out the trick at the end. Some of them worked, but others just didn't work, several presuming unacceptable stupidity on the part of the police, and several followed a usual Asimovian mystery pattern of figuring out what a pun a message sender must surely, obviously have meant. They're similar to the Black Widowers, but the shorter length sucks much of the character and fun out of them. ( )
  prosfilaes | Dec 25, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isaac Asimovprimary authorall editionscalculated
Asimov, IsaacAfterwordmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Isaac, AsimovPrefacemain authorall editionsconfirmed
Frauendorf-Mössel, ChristineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hofschuster, Friedrich A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedicated to Eric Protter who said, "Would you?"
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When we four sat in the Union Club on a snowy evening, the talk was always most relaxed when Griswold was sleeping.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
When four old gentlemen settle back in their club's comfortably aristocratic library to while away the afternoon, one of their number keeps rousing himself from his post-luncheon slumbers to regale his fellows with tales of intrigue, giving Isaac Asimov the perfect setting to display yet another facet of his protean imagination.

Like his creator, Asimov's raconteur encourages a sharp mind, and so, challenges his listeners to exercise theirs on solving his mysteries — while he returns to his nap. There are no tricks up his tweedy sleeve — the motive, means, and opportunity are all in the story. It only takes a certain amount of applied imagination (or the turning of a page) to deduce the proper sequence, to weigh the clues properly, and to turn a puzzle into a finished package. The teller obligingly supplies the endings, to everyone's immense surprise and satisfaction.

Here are thirty mystery shorts, never before collected between a book's covers; each crafted with Asimovian artistry, studded with Asimovian wit, embellished with Asimovian asides, and propelled by that special Asimovian way with a story.

No Refuge Could Save (To Spot a Spy)
The Telephone Number (The Winning Number)
The Men Who Wouldn't Talk (Pigeon English)
A Clear Shot (Big Shot)
Irresistible to Women (Call Me Irresistible)
He Wasn't There (The Spy Who Was Out-Of-Focus)
The Thin Line (Taxicab Crackdown)
Mystery Tune (Death Song)
Hide and Seek
Gift (Decipher Deception)
Hot or Cold
The Thirteenth Page
1 to 999 (One in a Thousand)
Twelve Years Old (The 12-Year-Old Problem)
Testing, Testing! (Cloak and Dagger Duel)
The Appleby Story (The Last Laugh)
Dollars and Cents (Countdown to Disaster)
Friends and Allies (Mirror Image)
Which is Which? (The Perfect Alibi)
The Sign (The Telltale Sign)
Catching the Fox (Stopping the Fox)
Getting the Combination (Playing It by the Numbers)
The Library Book (Mystery Book)
The Three Goblets (A Flash of Brilliance)
Spell It! (Book Smart)
Two Women (Cherchez la Femme: The Case of the Disappearing Woman)
Sending a Signal (A Piece of the Rock)
The Favorite Piece (Face the Music)
Half a Ghost (A Ghost of a Chance)
There Was a Young Lady (Poetic License)

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