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The Return of the Black Widowers

(The Black Widowers #6)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  738 ratings  ·  47 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 335 pages
Published November 10th 2005 by Da Capo Press (first published 1989)
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Jessica Marmor
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Elena Johansen
Waaaay back in high school, I did a term paper on Asimov for my American Lit course, but it was entirely focused on his science fiction. I didn't know he wrote mysteries at all until I found this tucked away on a low shelf at a used book sale. Of course I bought it.

The wit and precision I remember from his other work is present here, and the cleverness, too. As individual stories, I have few real complaints, despite generally disliking mystery. These are much more puzzlers than they are
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've loved the Black Widowers mysteries ever since I found an old copy at my library's book sale 20+ years ago. (OMG has it really been that long since I was in high school?!?!) This anthology did make me sad as it was published after Mr. Asimov's death, the stark reminder there are no more Black Widower stories to tell (at least from Mr. Asimov's point-of-view).

Every story has the same premise: a group of men who call themselves the "Black Widowers" gather monthly in a private room at a
Mark Oppenlander
After Asimov's death, there were several uncollected Black Widowers stories extant, but not enough to make a traditional volume (the other books all have 12 stories each). So this book includes a selection of previously published Black Widowers' tales, a sort of "greatest hits" collection. These are paired with the five or six uncollected tales and two non-Asimov stories that serve as homages to the Black Widowers' style and oeuvre.

The new tales are no better or worse than earlier stories in the
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Favorite quote from the book:
How do you justify your existence?
Less and less as time goes on.

The recurring characters in this set of short stories are ones that never overstay their welcome. I could say more, but don't want to give away anything and you're much better off seeing for yourself. Go on, read it!
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
These are a series of short mystery stories, solved over conversation. They are decent stories, not exceptional. Some clever descriptive phrases, as if the author is just having some fun. A good book for beach reading.
Libby Beyreis
Jan 24, 2020 rated it liked it
A light buffet of little mysteries by Asimov. There's nothing deep or profound here, just some fun whodunnits and whydunnits that give the reader enough information to solve the mystery themselves, should they be so inclined.
Aug 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
Not SF and the tales of detection ?? were not much.
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Love the Black Widowers stories.
Anthony Faber
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
If you like his Black Widower stuff, you'll like this. I'm not a big fan.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Several new ones in this book. I enjoy the quaint language but get old after a while. Still love Henry!
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Think this was my favorite of the series - a mix of some of the old from previous books & some new ones that hadn't been previously published in book format before his death
Paul Weiss
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Vintage Asimov understated humour!

The drill with Asimov's Black Widower mysteries (in music circles, one might call these "divertimenti") is well known to dedicated fans. Six members of the Black Widowers Club (chauvinists one and all, "no women allowed", if you puhhlease!) meet once a month at their club for a gourmet dinner. The members of the group - a lawyer, a cryptographer, a math teacher, a chemist, a mystery writer, and Henry, their inestimable waiter - never fail to ferret out an
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
The primary draw of this book is the final set of Black Widowers mysteries written by Asimov before his death which had not yet otherwise been published in a collection. The book also contains additional "best of" stories and a pair of stories written by other authors in honor of Asimov's Black Widowers stories (one actually being a Black Widowers story).

For those who've never read them, the basic concept is that a small group of men meet for dinner at the same restaurant once a month, served by
Marian Perera
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
The Return of the Black Widowers includes ten of the best Black Widowers stories from previous collections, so if youre curious about them, thats a good enough reason to pick up the book. Fans have probably read these collections already, though. So the only reason for me to have the book was the new material, and theres where the book faltered.

Theres a reason the new material wasnt published in its own, standalone collection its not very good. There are many Widowers mysteries where I havent
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have heard of Isaac Asimov's "the Black Widowers" before but have never read any of their stories until now. In short, the Black Widowers is a male only club that meets once a month to have dinner and talk. There is an invited guest, and through the course of the evening's discussion, a mystery is inevitably introduced, which the Black Widowers talk out in logical fashion with the aim of solving the mystery. However, they are all thwarted in their attempts and at the end, their inestimable ...more
Rachel Rogers
Aug 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
A very nice break from what I have been reading. These mystery stories are about 10 pages each, presented as problems or questions to a men's group called the Black Widowers (made up of 7 people, including the incredible waiter Henry). Each problem is presented with all the facts and the group then tries to reason out the answer. In the end Henry is ALWAYS the one to figure out the answer. Since all the information is given to you these are straightforward mind games that are delightful to ...more
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
And here I come to the end of the series I love. The first half of this book, exempting the affectionate foreword by Harlan Ellison, is entirely reprinted stories from the previous books, which I skipped over as I've read all of them in the span of a week. There are several new stories, though, plus two by other authors in the spirit of the originals (one an outright homage with new characters, and the other more directly derivative of the originals but whose plot focuses on treating Asimov ...more
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
These stories of armchair detectives are somewhat simple in their approach. They are puzzle mysteries, solved by deduction rather than real investigation. Many of the puzzles are not difficult, and often the reader arrives at the answer before Henry. In that way they are, as a co-worker of mine stated, Encyclopedia Brown stories for adults. But it is the armchair detectives themselves that drew me to the stories. While none are truly fleshed out, you still get hints as to their character. Mr. ...more
Martin Wilson
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
A fun little bundle of mysteries. There's good characterization, some fun ideas and the conceit of the whole thing being dialogue never gets tired. A few stories stand out, others don't. There's one, for instance that makes a big deal out of one of the characters believing himself to be Batman, but this turns out to have next to no bearing on the story or mystery involved. Another presents a pulpy spy story mystery and solves a tiny fraction of it, leaving the rest undisclosed. Still, overall ...more
Apr 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Entertaining but light read. Outdated and amusing reminder of an era when men ate steak every night in men's clubs and never considered that anyone but educated upperclass white men could make interesting conversation. The puzzles they solve are easy and each story follows basically the sme format, but somehow they are not boring. Maybe the predictability is part of the fun: how will Asimov introduce the puzzle this time, what subtle difference will there be. The characters are comfortably ...more
BonnieBew Rutledge
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The first Isaac Asimov I ever read was this collection of short story mysteries, and I feel kind of like a weird duck that my favorite Asimov isn't science fiction, but this is it. The Black Widowers stories are all told in a classic mystery style, with a stable of well-rounded recurring characters, and a guest that varies from story to story. If you enjoy your Agatha Christie, these short stories should be a pleasure.
Hil Jaramillo
Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all
This book came to me highly recommended from my husband, Anibal. I love mystery books. Before this book I had never even heard of Issac Asimov. This book contains 20 short stories. All very cleverly written and entertaining. Anibal had to force me to go to sleep, I never wanted to put the book down. I will totally read all the other Black Widowers books and Issac other book sense he has written so many.
Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A flashback. This is a mishmosh of stories previously published elsewhere but not ever collected together. I had read--and remember--several of them. They are somewhat dated, but clever in their way. You can tell Asimov enjoyed writing them, but the "mystery" part is pretty facile.

He was emulating Dame Agatha. And it shows. I like Christie, but her stories seem awfully simplistic now, as do these. But, they are nice and comfortable, like broken-in jeans.
Chung Lee
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is the first Black Widowers book I read and I was not impressed at all. I really don't know what all the deal was with these stories. Not really a mystery for suspense. Just blah.

I was going to go and read the previous Black Widowers novels if I liked this one, but after reading this one, I will pass
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
I first read this book a long time ago, along with the rest of the series, and picked it up again now, finishing it on 2/17/2017. While the mysteries themselves are less exciting to me than they were on the first read, I still find the book an enjoyable, lighthearted read that's perfect for just before bed or reading with a friend. Perhaps I should read more of Asimov's great works.
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
So glad I found this! I have all the other Black Widowers stories, so this completes my collection.

The Forward by Harlan Ellison was pretty funny where he's ranting at the book's editor. His comments about how much he misses Isaac were touching.

And, yay me, I got one of the answers before Henry explained it! That's only happened once or twice before.
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
My favorite of the stories in this collection of Tales of the Black Widowers is "Triple Devil"
Although, I did enjoy the entire book. The tales of the Black Widowers are actually puzzles, not mysteries. The reader may be able to figure out the solution; and if not, Henry will come to the rescue.
ako matsuoka
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
I love the Black Widowers stories and I've heard that new works Asimov wrote and we don't have them in Japanese not yet. I really want to read them and happily, I could read in English. The new stories are a little modest, but I enjoyed "Yes, But Why?" especially because I'm Henry's fan. And I was really moved 'The Last Story.' Hoping this anthology will be translated into Japanese!
Jul 25, 2008 rated it liked it
It's really 3.5 stars. It's just a series of very short stories or chapters of a dinner group that discusses and solves little, everyday-type mysteries. I gave my copy to someone on the cruise. The library on board didn't often have the librarian there & the books seemed to remain locked up. He later thanked me and said that he & now his wife were enjoying the book.
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Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born, American author, a professor of biochemistry, and a highly successful writer, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.

Professor Asimov is generally considered one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. He has works published in nine

Other books in the series

The Black Widowers (6 books)
  • Tales of the Black Widowers (The Black Widowers, #1)
  • More Tales of the Black Widowers (The Black Widowers, #2)
  • Casebook of the Black Widowers (The Black Widowers, #3)
  • Banquets of the Black Widowers (The Black Widowers, #4)
  • Puzzles of the Black Widowers (The Black Widowers, #5)

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