a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Square Root of Murder (2011)
Ada Madison

Math professor Sophie Knowles turns amateur detective when an unpopular colleague is found dead in his office in this entertaining but light mystery novel.

From reading comments at Amazon, I have learned that the author has an undergraduate degree in mathematics, a PhD in physics and personal familiarity with academia. Also, apparently she has written other mysteries under the name Camille Minichino. If so, this would explain why, in this highly readable book, she seems to be able to present the professors in the science building at a small New England college believably. However, I would think someone with this background could have made better use of her training. As it is, the mathematics and science in the book is just window dressing. I agree with Gary Miller who wrote to say:

Contributed by Gary R Miller

The author knows mathematics. Yes, it is often mentioned only in passing, but there are no silly gaffs or any meaningless juxtaposition of mathematical terms. The genre might be more narrowly described as "cozy mystery". I just finished reading it on Kindle.

More specifically, we hear Sophie (whose parents named her after Sophie Germain) mentioning more than a few times that she does research in differential equations and publishes in research journals. This is pretty good (both for a character in a mystery novel, and for a professor at a little college), but there are no details beyond this and math never becomes relevant to the main plot. It is relevant to the plot, and a nice change from the stereotype, that Sophie is a well liked math professor who goes out of her way to help her students and believes that everyone can learn to do math. Sophie is supposed to create puzzles as a hobby (published under a pseudonym, at the request of her dean) and the book cover claims that there a few puzzles at the end for the reader. However, the puzzles that appeared at the end were a bit disappointing.

Thanks to Sarah Greenwald for suggesting that I add this to the database.

(BTW There is also an unrelated mystery for kids with the same title. See here for my entry on that.)

More information about this work can be found at
(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)

Works Similar to The Square Root of Murder
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Three Body Problem by Catherine Shaw
  2. A Calculated Demise by Robert Spiller
  3. The Square Root of Murder by Paul Zindel
  4. Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins
  5. The Theory of Death by Faye Kellerman
  6. NUMB3RS by Nick Falacci / Cheryl Heuton
  7. The Devotion of Suspect X [YĆ“gisha X no kenshin] by Keigo Higashino
  8. Advanced Calculus of Murder by Erik Rosenthal
  9. The Bishop Murder Case by S.S. van Dine (pseudonym of Willard Huntington Wright)
  10. The Four-Color Puzzle: Falling Off the Map by Lior Samson
Ratings for The Square Root of Murder:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
2/5 (2 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.5/5 (2 votes)

MotifAcademia, Female Mathematicians, Romance, Math Education,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)