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Literature / The Obvious Factor

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The 6th story in the Black Widowers case files, Isaac Asimov wrote it for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (May 1973 issue).

Trumbull is host, and his guest is Dr. Voss Eldridge, who investigates paranormal claims for a living. As dinner starts, Trumbull uses his position as host to ban Halsted from reciting his new limerick so Drake reads it for him. The members briefly discuss the meaning before dinner arrives. The discussion during dinner turns to Pulp Fiction, when Rubin and Drake debate over Secret Service Operator 5 and Secret Agent X.

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After dinner, Rubin grills Mr Eldridge, and he tells the group about an example of paranormal activity that he hasn't yet disproven with mundane evidence. Henry, naturally, is able to uncover a perfectly reasonable explanation that satisfies him.

This story has been reprinted three times; Tales of the Black Widowers (1974), The Best Mysteries Of Isaac Asimov (1986), and The Return of the Black Widowers (2003).


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