This may be considered one of
Asimov's robot books, but more essentially it is an SF mystery. It takes place
in Asimov's future galaxy civilization.
Earth is overpopulated and
some humans have left to colonized planets of other stars. Earthers and
Spacers have come to dislike each other. Furthermore, Spacers have used robots
to do much of the labor in their worlds, leaving much leisure for Spacer
humans. On Earth, people have seen robots as a threat to their jobs, so
resistance has slowed the introduction of robots. To summarize: Earthers
dislike both Spacers and robots.
People on Earth live in vast
enclosures. There is a segregated part of New York City for Spacers called
Spacetown. A Spacer robot designer is killed there. NYC detective Elijah
Baley is assigned to investigate it and he finds himself partnered with a
Spacer robot with the familiar name R. Daneel Olivaw. The robot is a new
humanoid type just invented by the murder victim (and the robot is made to look
like the inventor). The new robot type had been intended to improve acceptance
of robots on Earth.
Daneel begins looking into
possible Earther groups acting against Spacers and robots. Baley is unaware of
any such organizations. As they delve further, things get complicated with
clues to something big.
In a variant on the
"locked door" murder mystery, Spacetown has a heavily guarded
entrance which it seems the murderer didn't use. Spacers are convinced no
Spacer did it from the inside. The only other accesses to Spacetown require
crossing open country, which is unthinkable for Earthers who spend their lives
in "caves of steel".
This is not super-detective
unerringly circles in on the villain. Our investigators are good, but make
their share of mistakes on the way to solving a puzzling case.
It makes good SF and good mystery. It's considered one of Asimov's best.