After World War II, an American sergeant is suspected of actually being a French-Canadian who had been a spy for the Germans during the war. Can Griswold ferret out the man’s real identity?
I’m sorry, but I’m doing to call this one a cheat. Technically, there’s enough information in the story to guess the solution—providing the reader knows a crucial bit of trivia about the largest city in Quebec. I consider myself reasonably well-educated, but Asimov may as well have depended on my knowing who won the World Series in 1941. (It was the Yankees over the Dodgers, four games to one. Thank you, Wikipedia.)
I think why I’m bothered so much is that Asimov could have written the story with an almost-identical solution which did not require such knowledge—meaning that the solution I guessed would have been the right one, although in that case I probably would have found the story just as unsatisfying. (In general, I don’t think much of mysteries if I can guess the solution; since I never really try, I always take that as a sign that the solution is a little too obvious.) As Union Club stories go, however, it’s otherwise fine.
This story also has the dubious distinction of being the first Union Club mystery not published in Gallery. After Gallery dropped the series, Asimov wrote a handful of Union Club mysteries that were published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, of which this was the first.
|The Best Mysteries of Isaac Asimov|