Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"The Oxford Murders" by Guillermo Martinez

The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martines (2005) (Published by Penguin Books 2006).

Fans of mysteries in the Agatha Christie style, or of the various PBS/BBC British mystery programs, will likely enjoy a contemporary twist on that genre in The Oxford Murders.

It’s 1993 in Oxforshire, England, and an elderly woman is found murdered in her sitting room. The story’s narrator is the woman’s tenant, an Argentinean graduate student working in mathematics. The student and Arthur Seldom, a mathematical genius and Oxford don, become the amateur sleuths investigating the crime after a note is sent to Seldom containing the words “first of the series” and a small drawing of a circle.

More deaths occur and more symbols are revealed. Polygons, paradox, and theorems abound as the mystery deepens. The discussions of logic and mathematics throughout the book are entertaining and accessible. And the story has a nice twist, one which ultimately makes the book one to recommend for a light, pleasant read.