a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Gospel Truths (2007)
J.G. Sandom

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

Another novel in the same genre as The Da Vinci Code — an Earth-shaking secret which can destroy the Roman Catholic Church (as a character says, “Can you imagine the headline? ‘Christ found to be a heretic!' ”). It goes through similar machinations, tortuous clues, murders, vile villains, wily detectives and the stereotypical Father, till you are led to the final denoument, which itself is left with a hanging thread for a sequel (called “The God Machine”).

This time around, the great secret relates to direct words of Christ recorded by (very likely) the Brother of Jesus, Thomas the Jude. The book, “Gospel of Thomas” becomes the beast of venison, along with the “Book of Thomas the Contender”. Involved in the thick of things is a mathematician-turned-architect, Joseph Koster. Koster is an ‘okay-type' mathematician. In the past, he “struggled with the null set”. At one point, he proclaims to his friend that Goldbach Conjecture — one in which he “did his best work” — is “a mathematical hypothesis that's extralogically true, but that defies being proved with logic.” [The book mentions Gödel at this point, which may sound reasonable. However, it is actually illogical to think that Goldbach's Conjecture could be known to be undecidable. If one could prove it was undecidable then this would be the same as proving that it is true, since one could easily prove it was false simply by offering a counter example. So, despite what this book says, we do not know that Goldbach's Conjecture is undecidable. -Alex]

With such shaky grounding in fundamentals, it was a happy development that he retired from trying to prove theorems and started studying cathedral architecture. At least he got to chasing down Jesus and his lost words.

But wait, his math skills do help him in the end. The labyrinth in which the legendary gospel is supposed to have been hidden is conjectured to be “a mathematical symbol, a numerical metaphor.” Golden Mean, Group Theory, Topology, Gematria, the Möbius Strip, Seifert and Weber's closed hyperbolic 3-manifold, the dodecahedron, homeomorphs… all of these terms and concepts make an appearance when Koster finally unravels the secret resting place of the chalice which held the gospel…

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Works Similar to Gospel Truths
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Bone Chase by Weston Ochse
  2. Pythagoras' Revenge: A Mathematical Mystery by Arturo Sangalli
  3. The Thousand by Kevin Guilfoile
  4. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  5. The Eight by Katherine Neville
  6. El Troiacord by Miquel de Palol
  7. Fermat's Room (La Habitacion de Fermat) by Luis Piedrahita / Rodrigo Sopeña
  8. The Lure by Bill Napier
  9. A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin
  10. Lost Empire (A Sam and Remi Fargo Adventure) by Clive Cussler / Grant Blackwood
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MotifReligion, Mobius Strip/Nonorientability,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry, Algebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory, Real Mathematics,

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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)