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The Cambridge Theorem (1990)
Tony Cape

Contributed by Fusun Akman

It is a British-Russian spy novel in the style of Le Carre that is set in Cambridge, UK. If you like that sort of thing, fine. It is true that the murdered genius is a math graduate student, and he leaves behind a number of files about famous unsolved cases, to which he supposedly applied principles of mathematics. In fact, at the end, his solution to the Kennedy assassination (yes, it was the Cubans) is to be published posthumously. There are no specific details of his solution method (except vague use of geometry and otherwise standard detective work), and frankly, the recent Peter Jennings program where the "mathematical model" that kinda proved that everything was exactly as it seemed, and that the one shot was fired from the book depository, impressed me as much more realistic (I don't know if the model was checked out by reputable mathematicians). "The Kennedy Theorem" above is the only place where mathematics plays a role. "The Cambridge Theorem" in the title is the deceased's solution to an unrelated British spy mystery, namely, the identity of the fifth Russian mole at Cambridge, whose four colleagues were unmasked a long time ago. Towards the end, the plot deepens and gets improbably complicated, to be revealed in a  torrent of brilliant intuitions on the detective's part. You can tell I was not overly impressed by the literary style either.  

Overall: an interesting book to read, if you like the genre, but it is not about mathematics or mathematicians (even the dead guy's advisor is a physicist). And I wouldn't bother to read it twice.

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Works Similar to The Cambridge Theorem
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Return of Moriarty by John Gardner
  2. Calculus of Murder by Erik Rosenthal
  3. Advanced Calculus of Murder by Erik Rosenthal
  4. Maths à mort by Margot Bruyère
  5. A Piece of Justice by Jill Paton Walsh
  6. The Dobie Paradox by Desmond Cory
  7. The Catalyst by Desmond Cory
  8. The Mask of Zeus by Desmond Cory
  9. Murder at the Margin by Marshall Jevons
  10. Bad Boy Brawley Brown by Walter Mosley
Ratings for The Cambridge Theorem:
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Mathematical Content:
1/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
2/5 (1 votes)


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May 2016: I am experimenting with a new feature which will print a picture of the cover and a link to the page for a work of mathematical fiction when it is available. I hope you find this useful and convenient. In any case, please write to let me know if it is because I would be happy to either get rid of it or improve it if that would be better for you. Thanks! -Alex

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)