The Oxford Murders

If you like math and mysteries, do read The Oxford Murders, an academic mystery by an Argentinian author, Guillermo Martinez, as translated by Sonia Soto. If you don’t like math, your interest in mysteries probably won’t sustain you throughout this short but cerebral novel.

The mathematics in The Oxford Murders is mostly from the philosophical end of the spectrum, from Pythagoras and Fermat through Gödel and Wittgenstein and up to and including Andrew Wiles. A lot of logic and a bit of cryptology spice up the mix, at least to a reader like me. Unfortunately the characters are never very three-dimensional, and the plot is a bit dull, so it’s hard to recommend this book to the general reader, even though one reviewer claimed that “if you are a mystery buff, you’ll not only love it but want to find out the answer to Who did it?” That reviewer also compared it to Numb3rs, but that’s not really a fair comparison: the mathematics is usually less relevant to the plot in Numb3rs, but the plot itself is usually more interesting. Of course, you can’t trust reviewers, especially Amazon ones, since another reviewer — an Amazon “top 100” — says that Martinez shows “understanding of human nature&#8221. Not by my standards, but who am I to judge? I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on human nature.

Categories: Books, Math, Movies & (occasionally) TV