MARTIN H. GREENBERG, Editor – Deadly Doings. Ivy, paperback original; 1st printing, 1989.

   #2. P. D. JAMES “Murder, 1986.” Short story. First published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October 1970. Reprinted in Ellery Queen’s Anthology #30, 1975. Apparently still uncollected.

   The title of this story may or may not tell you this right away, but it is one that’s SF, through and through. Once you realize that it was written in 1970, though, some 16 years before the time period in which it’s set, then that statement will make a lot more sense.. But being that it was written by P. D. James, one of best known of recently deceased mystery writers, it’s definitely a detective story, too.

   It takes place in an alternate future that never took place, one in which a plague has enveloped the world. Isolated from the rest of society are the Ipdics (Interplanetary Disease Infection Carriers). Investigating the murder (not suicide) of a young woman who was one of them is Sergeant Dolby, the kind of guy who’s totally honest and committed, but who’s looked down upon by his superiors and who’s never sent out on more than petty crimes.

   He takes a personal interest in this one, though, in spite of being given no resources to solve it.

   I wish I could say that I enjoyed this one more than I did. It’s not the SFnal aspects that bother me — often times science fiction stories written by people without a sizable background in science fiction fail for exactly that reason. No, my real problem with this one. if I read it correctly, is that the author is deliberately unfair to the reader.

   To me this is bigger hurdle to get over than “not playing fair” is.


Previously in this Martin Greenberg anthology: IRA LEVIN “Sylvia.”