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Authors: Isaac Asimov

The Union Club Mysteries

BOOK: The Union Club Mysteries
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Table of Contents

"Thirty mystery shorts, crafted with Asimovian artistry, studded with Asimovian wit, embellished with Asimovian asides and propelled by that special Asimovian way with a story."

Mystery News

"Those who like old-fashioned brain-teasers will relish Asimov's latest."

Booklist

"Well-crafted mystery tales."

Augusta Chronicle

Mysteries
by
Isaac Asimov:

TALES OF THE BLACK WIDOWERS

MURDER AT THE ABA

ASIMOV'S MYSTERIES

MORE TALES OF THE BLACK WIDOWERS

A WHIFF OF DEATH

CASEBOOK OF THE BLACK WIDOWERS

THE UNION CLUB MYSTERIES

BANQUETS OF THE BLACK WIDOWERS

THE BEST MYSTERIES OF ISAAC ASIMOV

Science Fiction
by
Isaac Asimov:

EARTH IS ROOM ENOUGH

MORE STORIES FROM THE HUGO WINNERS,

VOL. II THE BEST OF ISAAC ASIMOV BUY JUPITER AND OTHER STORIES THE HUGO WINNERS, VOL. III

Science Fiction
edited by
LA., Martin H. Greenberg, & Joseph Orlander:

THE FUTURE IN QUESTION SPACE MAIL THE FUTURE I

Science Fiction
edited by
LA., Martin H. Greenberg & Charles Waugh:

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF SCIENCE

FICTION SPACE MAIL II TV: 2000

FLYING SAUCERS DRAGON TALES THE LAST MAN ON EARTH STARSHIPS

Non-fiction
by
Isaac Asimov:

THE REALM OF ALGEBRA THE REALM OF NUMBERS EARTH: OUR CROWDED SPACESHIP

FAWCETT CREST
  

  
NEW YORK

To Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

All the stories in this book were originally published in
Gallery,
in successive monthly issues from September 1980 to February 1983 inclusive. Copyright © 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 by Montcalm Publishing Corporation The titles under which the stories appeared in
Gallery
are given in the following paragraph in parentheses:

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 ("Hide and Seek"), GIFT ("Decipher Deception"), HOT OR COLD ("Hot or Cold"), THE THIRTEENTH PAGE ("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")

A Fawcett Crest Book Published by Ballantine Books

Copyright © 1983 by Nightfall, Inc.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 82-45974

ISBN 0-449-21583-0

This edition published by arrangement with Doubleday & Company, Inc.

Manufactured in the United States of America

First Ballantine Books Edition: February 1985 Fifth Printing: March 1989

Scanned and proofed by eBookMan version 1.0.

Dedicated to Eric Protter who said, "Would you?"

Foreword

Three years ago (as I write this) Eric Protter of
Gallery
magazine asked me if I would consider writing a monthly mystery for the magazine.

I hesitated.
Gallery
is what is commonly known as a "girlie" magazine and, like all of that genre, though not as tastelessly as some, it is devoted to the feminine form divine—and unclothed. I have no objection to that in principle, you understand, and I have written articles for
Gallery
and for a few other magazines of the sort. After all, no one compels me to read anything of which I disapprove, even if something of mine appears in the issue. I can always take out the pages on which my article appears and bind them along with other such tear sheets, and discard the rest of the magazine if I wish. And if a revealing photograph should appear on the other side of a page containing part of my article—well, I don't have to look.—And if I do, I'll survive. (I'm sure of it.)

The articles, however, were always on scientific subjects. I had never been asked to write fiction before.

So after I was finished hesitating, I said cautiously, "Eric, you understand, I hope, that I do not write erotica." (I don't! Just a silly idiosyncrasy of mine! I write an occasional ribald limerick, but that's just for laughs.)

Eric said, "I know that. I just want a mystery written in
your
style. I want it about two thousand words long, and I want you to stop toward the end so that the reader will have a chance to solve the mystery before your detective does. We will publish the end of the story on another page."

I found that notion intriguing. The first story was satisfactory, but, as it turned out, I hadn't quite gotten into my stride. It was with my second story, "No Refuge Could Save," that I worked out my scheme.

Since I am always fair with my readers I will tell you what it is. Each story (without exception) starts with a short exchange among three cronies in the library of the Union Club. The fourth crony is Griswold, who is asleep as the story starts. Something in the exchange stirs him awake and reminds him of a story, which he tells up to the point where the other three ought to be able to solve the mystery. They never do, and Griswold gives them the answer.

When Griswold comes to the end of his story, you will find a typographical intimation of that fact, and you will be welcome to try to guess the ending before going on. There may be times when the ending will be obvious to you. There may be times when you'll decide (with indignation) that no human being could have solved the puzzle given only the information I deigned to hand out. There may be times when you will think, in hindsight, that you ought to have guessed it, and will applaud my cleverness in concealing the answer without being unfair about it. And you may well decide the heck with trying to guess the answer, and just read on to the end.

But however it goes, I can only hope that a good number of the stories will interest and amuse you, and that you won't be sorry you invested in this book.

One last word of warning. I have the trick of sounding as though I know all sorts of inside things about spies and police departments and government operations. If you're curious, the truth is I don't know a
thing
about any of that sort of stuff. I make it all up in my head, and if you should be an expert and should note that I am ludicrously wrong in some ways—that's why!

Contents

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BOOK: The Union Club Mysteries
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