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Murder at the ABA: A Puzzle in Four Days and Sixty Scenes
by Isaac Asimov
Doubleday, 230pp
Published: January 1976

Overall this is a straightforward murder mystery dressed up by being set at the American Booksellers Convention with Isaac Asimov appearing as a secondary character.  Writer Darius Just is not having a good day as we start the opening pages. He is late to the convention where he has agreed to appear on a panel with a friend and, through heroic efforts, he beats a traffic jam and arrives on time only to find the panel ending, having been bumped up due to the inappropriate dress of the panelist scheduled for that time slot.  His irritation mounts as he finds his publisher actively pushing a new book by his protégé, Giles Devore, while not even having copies of Darius’ latest.  Years earlier Darius had taken Giles under his wing, and into his apartment, to help him write his first book which went on to be a best seller. In the ensuing years Giles had enjoyed his success while rarely mentioning Darius’ help as the friendship was not as close as it once was. Nonetheless, when Giles asks Darius to pick up a package for him and deliver it to his hotel room, Darius agrees. Unfortunately, Darius gets distracted by a woman and forgets. When he remembers the next morning he retrieves the package and takes it to Giles’ room, where he finds Giles dead in the bathroom.  Everyone calls it an accident but Darius is sure it is murder and starts to investigate.

The mystery itself is rather straightforward but the setting is interesting as are the cameo appearances by a number of celebrities such as Charles Berlitz, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Uri Geller, Anita Loos, Joe Namath’s mother Rose Namath, Cathleen Nesbitt, Carl Sagan, Walter Sullivan, Muhammad Ali, Leo Durocher and, of course, Isaac Asimov himself who appears as a friend of Darius’ as well as discussing his plans to write a mystery to be titled Murder at the ABA.

This is a quick read and enjoyable if somewhat dated in the attitude of the men towards the women. If, as a reader, you are easily offended by the attitudes of forty years ago you might not enjoy this book but if you can take it in the context of the times in which it was written it is an enjoyable romp of a murder mystery. ~~ Stephanie L Bannon

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