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No One You Know (2008)
Michelle Richmond

Having felt overshadowed by her mathematician older sister when she was alive, the main character becomes obsessed with her murder after the sister is killed. Using her sister's notebook describing her work on many of the famous open problems in mathematics, she learns more about her sister and about mathematics. (Of the open problems mentioned, Goldbach's Conjecture and the question of whether she had proved it before she was killed are of special interest here.)

Math gets mentioned frequently throughout the book, mostly in the form of references to or quotes from the usual crowd of ``famous mathematicians'' (Euclid, Hilbert, Erdös, Ramanujan, Poincare, etc.). Most of these quotes and references are used correctly, but an occasional slip-up (e.g. her summary of the Collatz Conjecture as ``A sequence of natural numbers always ends in one'') and the fact that the mathematical content is primarily made up of these quotations from others suggest to me that the author herself is not well versed in mathematics.

If that is the case, then she has really done a surprisingly good job of writing a work of mathematical fiction for a non-mathematical audience. However, anyone with a strong background in mathematics should recognize that they are not likely to see much that they haven't seen before -- at least not in terms of the mathematics.

As a novel, on the other hand, this is more of a character study than a murder mystery and is likely to appeal to a wide variety of readers regardless of their mathematical backgrounds.

Contributed by John C. Konrath

This novel incorporates two of my favorite things, mathematics and coffee. “No One You Know”, tells an elegantly crafted tale that was a pleasure to read. All of the characters are realistic and unique. Overall, this book demonstrates the author’s excellent understanding of human nature. Mathematically, this work touches on many topics but does not explore any in depth. To a non-mathematician concepts are presented in an interesting manner and can serve as a gateway to further reading.

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Works Similar to No One You Know
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Lewis (Episode: Reputation) by Russell Lewis (Story) / Stephen Churchett (Screenplay)
  2. The Four-Color Puzzle: Falling Off the Map by Lior Samson
  3. Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis
  4. Murder, She Conjectured by Alex Kasman
  5. In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff
  6. Pythagorean Crimes by Tefcros Michaelides
  7. Fermat's Room (La Habitacion de Fermat) by Luis Piedrahita / Rodrigo Sopeña
  8. Continuums by Robert Carr
  9. Who Killed the Duke of Densmore? by Claude Berge
  10. A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin
Ratings for No One You Know:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
3.5/5 (2 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (2 votes)

MotifProdigies, Academia, Proving Theorems, Female Mathematicians,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory, Real Mathematics,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)