MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Return of Moriarty (1974)
John Gardner
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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

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(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. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows by Guy Ritchie (director)
  2. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer
  3. The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  4. The Ultimate Crime by Isaac Asimov
  5. Adventure of the Final Problem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  6. The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Or the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King
  7. The Cambridge Theorem by Tony Cape
  8. Death of a Doxy by Rex Stout
  9. Murder at the Margin by Marshall Jevons
  10. Advanced Calculus of Murder by Erik Rosenthal
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Categories:
GenreMystery,
MotifSherlock Holmes,
Topic
MediumNovels,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)