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Book Note: H. Beam Piper, Murder In the Gun Room

I read this book about 7-May-2006. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1953. This note was last modified Tuesday, 09-May-2006 21:45:27 PDT.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


A non-genre work from an author strongly identified with SF and fantasy. This is a straight mystery -- with more explicit discussion of General Semantics than Heinlein ever put into an SF story. I see it was reissued in 1993 by Old Earth Books. I'm reading this courtesy of Project Gutenberg -- apparently the estate got careless with the copyright.

It sounded to me like the detective was supposed to be a series character, but I'm not aware of any other stories using him. He runs an agency with a history, and has people who work for him as well as friends who bring him cases.

Since it's about the murder of a gun collector, the theft of parts of the collection, and the job of disposing of the collection (as well as some issues with with the acquisition of a packaged food company), there are of course a lot of guns in it. But to see people calmly setting the guns they're discussing on the table in a restaurant is a bit startling even to me (in fairness, it startled the waitress, too).

Fairly traditionally, the two daughters of the rich victim are both thoroughly messed up. Fairly traditionally, one is an alcoholic. Fairly traditionally, one is a bit boy-mad. Rather elegantly, the detective categorizes them as the nymphomaniac and the dipsomaniac.

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David Dyer-Bennet