a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|Another Professor Dobie mystery (see also The
Catalyst and The Mask of Zeus) in which the so-called "Columbo with a chair in mathematics" solves the mystery of the murder of a young girl. There is less math in this one than in the previous mystery, and this time the math really has nothing to do with the crime. Still, there are more than just a few mentions of mathematics throughout the book. For instance:
"Of course, I'm a mathematician, Jacko. I try to avoid putting forward propositions that haven't been properly tested..."
Mathematicians don't deal with order. Some kind of order is what they end up with if they're lucky. What they deal with is total chaos.
The part about the paradox is kind of lame and unrealistic. Dobie is very pleased to get a letter from the Director of the Heisenberg Institute that says "It is with the most profound reluctance that we have concluded that the paradox as propounded, in the absence of any of-a-decisive-nature refutation and subject to an in-all-parts-effectively-demonstrable comfirmation, must stand." I guess I think that paradox does play an interesting role in mathematics, but the reality of it is not addressed by this quote or the discussion in the book of the religious paradox "If god can do anything, can he make a rock so heavy that he can't lift it?"
To sum up: The mystery in this one is a bit better than in Mask of Zeus, but from a mathematical point of view it is far inferior.
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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.)|
(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)