You open a science fiction book and you find yourself reading a classic crime novel, with the style of Sherlock Holmes (with a citation in the text) or with the characters of Agatha Christie. Someone was killed in a distant planet and Detective Baley by talking with the suspects, observing and with simple deductions gets to discover the culprit and then to expose him in the final meeting.
What has science fiction do with it? Not much. It’s just a setting out of the ordinary, completely invented by the author and therefore it gives him complete freedom of action.
He invents a planet where people live so far away from each other so as not to tolerate the presence of others. Nothing remains of the crime when the detective arrives from Earth so it helps to develop a plot of reasoning and deduction, without evidence, that in a sci-fi future should reveal such a case in a moment.
But we are in 1957, when Asimov wrote this novel, without the advanced techniques of forensic criminology that exist now, so it was good that the author did not try to use some sci-fi tool, which over time would make the whole story unrealistic (if not laughable). Instead in this way, even after more than 50 the story continues to be quite credible, except for some details.
The way it is told, however, betrays their age, along with the theme of the robot (which nowadays is no longer seen as a particular field of future development, except for entertainment) with its strict laws, and almost makes it a novel for teenagers.
The only exception is the sociological theme, which is inserted in the middle of the novel and which is definitely of a certain depth, at least in theory. It is a bit less like this when you consider the reason why this matter is bothered, that is the comparison between an Earth of the future, where agoraphobic humans live constantly separated from the outside and surrounded by a crowd of other humans, and the planet Solaria, where humans have immense spaces at their disposal and are never seen in person.
What I appreciated is the effort of the author’s imagination and you can glimpse how much he is amused to imagine these so unreal and unattainable realities. But the beauty of science fiction is this: the entertainment of the writer that is transmitted to the reader, with all the arguments arising from it, without necessarily having to pull out some lessons applicable to actual reality. Because it’s fiction and it’s nice that it is so.