a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|With the current popularity of sudoku puzzles, it is not surprising that a mystery novel with this title would appear. As a mystery, this one is quite decent. A mathematician who works for a government think-tank returns to her New Hampshire hometown at the request of her mentor, the currator of a "puzzle museum". Before long, he is murdered and she is considered to be a prime suspect. There are several subplots and things are tied up nicely in the end.
However, as mathematical fiction, this is a bit light. In particular, it has more to do with small town politics, real estate and romance than it does math or puzzles. It is nice to see another female mathematician in fiction, although some negative stereotypes may be reinforced by the continuously repeated theme that she is a geek with poor "people skills". We learn absolutely nothing about the work that she does and there is no mathematics discussed aside from the idea that "numbers are more reliable than people" and that her colleagues in Virginia stand around talking about "abstract numbers" all the time. Even the sudoku elements in the story seem quite light. There is only one sudoku puzzle that appears in the book. It does turn out to be an important clue, but in a way that requires no knowledge of sudoku puzzles or mathematics to figure out.
"Gerry" pointed me to a review at blogspot that also mentions another sudoku mystery: Kaye Morgan's Death by Sudoku is apparently designed more for those so enthralled with sudoku that they know the formats by name (.e.g "swordfish" and "x-wings"). At this point I am not adding this book separately to the list. However, I must admit that I have not read "Death by Sudoku". If you have read it and believe that it is mathematical enough to have its own entry, then please write to let me know. (Thanks!)
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(Maintained by Alex Kasman,
College of Charleston)