Fusun Akman, Coastal Carolina University|
"The hero is a part-time instructor and
researcher at Berkeley and moonlights as a PI. He solves his cases
using calculus. The narrative is excellent, humorous, and believable."
Actually, I just finished reading this book last night. I agree with most of Fusun's comments, but actually the connection between the mystery and the calculus is almost non-existent. There is a lot of discussion of mathematics (his research on bounded operators on Hilbert space, Fermat's Last Theorem, Godel's Theorem, etc.) which is completely unrelated to the case. At only one point in the story, he uses some really elementary computation (the solution to the differential equation dx/dt=cx) to determine something about the case (the absorption rate of arsenic into the body) which he later verifies by asking a toxicologist anyway.
One strange thing for me about reading this book is that it wasn't sufficiently different from my own life that I could really enjoy reading it. There is a lot about trying to get a job as a professor of mathematics, a lot about dealing with calculus students during office hours and some instances of people reacting poorly when they hear that he is a mathematician ("Yuchhh...I hate math.") I get enough of those things in my own life!
(See also "Advanced Calculus of Murder" by the same author.)
This book is an excellent murder mystery. The details fit together well, and at the end it leaves you thinking either "wow, I never would have thought it!" or "Ha! I was right!" depending on your outlook. In the middle of the book there are about 3 cases going on at once, and you can see many connections that the author doesn't point out, which can be frustrating because you'll be thinking "this is too confusing...unless I'm right about this fitting here, then it'll work" and at the end you realise you were right. Well, it's satisfying. However, if you want a book with complex math equations used to solve a murder, you won't get it. There is very little math in the book, and most of it is not used in the mystery.