David S. Rose is a printer who is responsible for getting the program out for the weekly meetings of the luncheon club to which he belongs. Unfortunately, he’s also absent-minded and has completely forgotten the upcoming program, with no hope of recovering the information in time for the next meeting.
It’s inevitible that there would be a final Black Widowers story. It’s also unfortunate that Asimov’s gradual death by AIDS meant that the series simply stopped and never got a proper ending.
The fact that Asimov would write no Black Widower mysteries after this one gives it a melancholy quality, and that tends to distort one’s appreciation of the writing. (In Return of the Black Widowers, however, it’s followed by Charles Ardai’s “Last Story,” which forms a nicer conclusion to the series than Asimov was able to write, and that is a nice cushion for it.)
So as for the story itself, it’s not without its charms. The solution is one of Asimov’s neater “Purloined Letter” rabbits to pull out of a hat. The main weakness is that Asimov strains a little too hard to set up the problem in the first place, a flaw that’s readily forgiven.
|The Return of the Black Widowers|