These books and stories were all read together in a bunch, although the writing of them probably spanned decades. The stories are all set at various speculative fiction cons – featuring two main characters who only really interact at these cons. Spade – a large guy who made money in the early days of computing and acts as one of the “Secret Masters of Fandom” and helps keep cons going. He acts as a form of detective. Paladin – a slight woman who acts as a problem solver. Neither of these names is their legal name, but this is what they go by.
The mysteries are all set at various cons, and show the kinds of things that can go wrong. Some murders, missing persons and arson. There are different fandoms, and different groups and the fandom groups play a role in the mysteries and in the solutions. The full length novel, Ten little fen, is a snowed in mystery, set in a hotel near Tahoe- a salute to the classic Christie mystery.
It is very clear that the author has spent time at conventions and time on the administration of conventions. I can’t vouch for the authenticity of the vocabulary- i do not have that experience, but i can recognise the details of that world.
There are moments that may seem dated- these were probably written in the 90s, and as much as it pains me to admit, that is not last year. The references for both Spade and Paladin are old- Spade from Sam Spade, although he compares himself more to Nero Wolfe (another golden age detective). Paladin from a 1960’s tv show(Have Gun, Will Travel) that I have never hear of.
I enjoyed the mysteries- they were well set up, the solutions were based on information that had been provided, but were not easy to determine. I also like that there is clearly growth and history happening in the stories – things from one story will pull through into another.
I was not such a fan of some of the common tropes and stereotypes about fandom, computer geeks and larger size people. And they all pop up. I know that stereotypes often exist because they reflect common patters- but i fall into a number of fandoms and would like to think that i am not like that. (a lot of the stereotypes are of profoundly annoying people)
Despite this, these are a compelling read and the endings are quite satisfying.