My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Awhile ago, something someone did or said sparked a memory for me of a Black Widowerer story. It goes like this: A man lives on a street of outwardly identical houses, one night comes home dead drunk, and enters the wrong house, wherein he busts in on a counterfeiting ring mid-illegal-operation. When he is woken up lying in the street the next morning by his wife, he can’t remember which house it was: He was fortunately unharmed by the counterfeiters but is now unfortunately haunted by the question: Which one of his neighbors is a crook?
Asimov’s Black Widower stories are all, essentially, the same; they adhere to a rigid structure. So when the memory of this story came back to me so clearly — I could remember nearly every detail — I wondered: Why did this one stick with me all these many, many years? I hadn’t read an Asimov book since high school and I had, like a good mystery-series obsessive, read nearly all of the Black Widowerer titles at some point. I promptly checked this book out of the library to figure it out.
The answer for the man with the counterfeiting neighbor is, just as it always is in BW stories, so very obvious. Rereading the story, I knew what was coming and could pick out the clues that Asimov subtly scattered — but I remembered that “Aha, of Course!” moment the first time around and enjoyed the story just as much anticipating it. Asimov was a master at putting all of the clues necessary to solve a mystery right where you wouldn’t expect them: directly in front of you.
And of course I couldn’t just read that one story: I read a book full of them, and so many of the other stories were also fantastic, just as worthy of remembrance. I still have no idea why that one in particular stuck with me. Oh well. It’s a mystery.