Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Read: "The Oxford Murders" by Guillermo Martinez

Read: The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez, 2005, 1596921501.

Pretty neat, a murder mystery with math and number/symbols series theory. I read a reference to this and reserved it. Apparently a movie or tv series was produced off this.

Argentine grad student (I cannot recall if his name was ever listed) goes to England to attend Oxford in 1993. He rents a basement apartment from an elderly lady. A month or so after arriving in England he goes to the lady's front door to pay his rent. He rings the bell and waits. At the same time a famous mathematician named Seldom arrives at the front door. When the lady does not answer her door they enter out of concern for her health. They need not have worried, she was already dead.

The death is ruled a murder and a local police inspector investigates. The local cop is well-known for past success and while investigating the scene either he or Seldom notice a symbol. Seldom is well known outside of math circles for a recent book that gained mass appeal. Part of that fame generated attention because a book chapter addressed serial killers and their connections with series. Concerned that a serial killer has decided to show-up the great mathematician Seldom both Seldom and the Argentine are both drawn into the investigation. Two more murders follow until a resolution.

This is mostly a cozy mystery and a neat read. The plotting is well done and the killer was a surprise. But, as in most stuff I like, the characters take more center stage. Seldom is a neat guy: a long-time widower, a genius, a mentor of sorts for the Argentine, mysterious background and associations. The Argentine is smart but in a new environment, starting to date a redhead, pre-occupied with academic requirements, and slightly enthralled by the famous Seldom.

Nice observations by Martinez on English weather and behavior. He obviously paid attention when he himself attend Oxford. This was a translation from the Spanish and I'm not sure what else Martinez has done and if the work has been translated.

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