Of course I wanted to like this book. What could be better than a mystery about a Massachusetts math teacher? But unfortunately this novel by Ada Madison (pen name of Camille Minichino) falls flat, IMHO at least.
Apparently my opinion is a minority one, if the so-called reviewers on Amazon are to be believed. It’s not obvious why every reviewer gave it four or five stars, when it’s clear to me that it deserves only three. Then again I don’t know who these people are, the ones who submit reviews to Amazon. The Square Root of Murder is certainly an easy enough read, with convincing material about the life of a math instructor in a small, second-rate college. The plot is average, some of the characters are mildly interesting, and there is a reasonable sense of place. But all in all it doesn’t amount to much. One reviewer says that it “will appeal to fans of the academic mysteries written by Amanda Cross,” a comment that I find utterly unconvincing. Cross wrote with a lot of literary depth, often to the point where her conversations were unrealistically stilted; the pacing of her books was mostly quite leisurely, one might even say slow. These characteristics are the opposite of Madison’s light, breezy style. Oh, well. I won’t bother reading subsequent books in the series.
By the way, the novel’s title is a meaningless attempt to be cute. I kept hoping that it would reveal some deep idea in the plot, but no such luck.