a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Dobie Paradox (1993)
Desmond Cory
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Another Professor Dobie mystery (see also The Catalyst and The Mask of Zeus) in which the so-called "Columbo with a chair in mathematics" solves the mystery of the murder of a young girl. There is less math in this one than in the previous mystery, and this time the math really has nothing to do with the crime. Still, there are more than just a few mentions of mathematics throughout the book. For instance:

"Of course, I'm a mathematician, Jacko. I try to avoid putting forward propositions that haven't been properly tested..."


Mathematicians don't deal with order. Some kind of order is what they end up with if they're lucky. What they deal with is total chaos.

The part about the paradox is kind of lame and unrealistic. Dobie is very pleased to get a letter from the Director of the Heisenberg Institute that says "It is with the most profound reluctance that we have concluded that the paradox as propounded, in the absence of any of-a-decisive-nature refutation and subject to an in-all-parts-effectively-demonstrable comfirmation, must stand." I guess I think that paradox does play an interesting role in mathematics, but the reality of it is not addressed by this quote or the discussion in the book of the religious paradox "If god can do anything, can he make a rock so heavy that he can't lift it?"

To sum up: The mystery in this one is a bit better than in Mask of Zeus, but from a mathematical point of view it is far inferior.

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Works Similar to The Dobie Paradox
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Catalyst [The Strange Attractor] by Desmond Cory
  2. The Mask of Zeus by Desmond Cory
  3. The Fractal Murders by Mark Cohen
  4. The Investigation by Stanislaw Lem
  5. Death Qualified: A Mystery of Chaos by Kate Willhelm
  6. The Three Body Problem by Catherine Shaw
  7. Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins
  8. Out of the Sun: A Novel by Robert Goddard
  9. Calculus of Murder by Erik Rosenthal
  10. Advanced Calculus of Murder by Erik Rosenthal
Ratings for The Dobie Paradox:
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:
2.5/5 (2 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.66/5 (3 votes)


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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)