a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

The Return of Moriarty (1974)
John Gardner

Contributed by "William E. Emba"

The British spy thriller novelist, perhaps now best known for his 007 novels, wrote three novels starring Professor Moriarty, THE RETURN OF MORIARTY (UK title MORIARTY), THE REVENGE OF MORIARTY (1975), and a never published third novel (thanks to a publisher dispute).

These novels claim, in the best Sherlock Holmes tradition, to be based on the recently discovered (and decrypted!) diaries of Moriarty. Naturally enough, references to his mathematical genius are made frequently. In THE RETURN OF MORIARTY, we also learn the shocking explanation of how a mathematician could even be a criminal mastermind in the first place. This turns out to be fundamentally important to pretty much everything in the two novels. (Since the explanation is something of a spoiler, and is entirely non-mathematical, it is not given here. The supposedly inherent uprightness and honor of mathematicians is upheld in the end.)

Before reading these novels (in order, preferably), one should read at a minimum two Conan Doyle stories, "The Final Problem" and "The Empty House" (the death and the return of Sherlock Holmes, respectively), since there are numerous knowing references to the events in these stories.

For those readers more interested in Sherlock Holmes, he is a minor, but very important character, in RETURN, and a major character in REVENGE. John Gardner did an excellent job in writing the Conan Doyle characters believably. (This is a contentious issue in regards to his James Bond novels.)

Note that there are now quite a few works of mathematical fiction listed on this site involving the brilliant but evil Moriarty. See:

Adventure of the Final Problem (1893)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventure of the Russian Grave (1995)
William Barton / Michael Capobianco

The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Or the Segregation of the Queen (1994)
Laurie R. King

Moriarty by Modem (1995)
Jack Nimersheim

Professor and Colonel (1987)
Ruth Berman

The Return of Moriarty (1974)
John Gardner

The Ultimate Crime (1976)
Isaac Asimov

The Valley of Fear (1916)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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 Return of Moriarty
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Schaurige Mathematik by Alexander Mehlmann
  2. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows by Guy Ritchie (director)
  3. Cobra by R. Ajay Gnanamuthu (Director) / Kannan (Screenplay) / Sekar Neelan (Screenplay)
  4. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer
  5. The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  6. Adventure of the Final Problem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  7. The Ultimate Crime by Isaac Asimov
  8. The Cambridge Theorem by Tony Cape
  9. The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Or the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King
  10. Murder by Mathematics by Hector Hawton
Ratings for The Return of Moriarty:
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.


MotifSherlock Holmes,

Home All New Browse Search About

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)