a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Givenchy Code (2005)
Julie Kenner

You've got to love the tag lines for this book: "A heel-breaking adventure in code-breaking that will bring out the math geek and the fashionista in you". "Cryptography is the new black".

A woman with an undergraduate degree in math earning her graduate degree in history gets caught up in a dangerous game of life and death when an eccentric millionaire's dying wish makes his assassin role-playing game into a reality. Hunted by an unknown assailant and protected by a gorgeous, sexy, honest and true ex-marine, Mel's obsessive interest in buying clothes and sleeping with her protector is not at all affected by the fact that she has only hours left to decode all of the clues and find the antidote to the poison that will kill her.

Since I'm not a huge fan of either The Da Vinci Code or Sex and the City, didn't figure I was going to like this. However, despite the fact that it certainly owes a lot to each, I actually liked this little romance thriller better! Okay, I find the plot (the role playing game becomes real) and the protagonist's obsession with shoes a bit hard to accept, but at least the book is fun and engrossing. Plus, the math in it may not be high level, but it is basically correct.

(quoted from The Givenchy Code)

Okay, I'm a geek, but I confess I was a little giddy. I had no idea why someone had sent me a coded message, but whoever it was knew me well. My BS is in math with a minor in history. That surprises most people. Apparently math majors are supposed to be surgically attached to their calculators and wear plastic pocket protectors. It's an irritating sterotype. Like saying blondes have more fun. I'm a blonde, and believe me, that's one old adage that simply doesn't hold true. (I will say, though, that even when the hair falls short, the math comes in surprisingly handy. Take parties, for example. Whenever the conversation gets slow, I can amaze and astound the other revelers with fractals, Fibonacci numbers and Smullyan's logic games In those situations, I really am the life of the party.)

Three of the clues include the formulas for curves in the plane, namely

y=mx+b (line)

x2+y2=r2 (circle)

y=a cosh(a x) (catenary)

If you're interested in buying this book, be careful when buying to make sure you are getting the one by Julie Kenner. The name "Givenchy Code" is cute and really fits the book. However, another author got to it first with an unrelated parody of Dan Brown's book and even got

Contributed by Sarah-Kate

Although it does not have a high literary quality, The Givenchy Code is still an enjoyable light read. The math in it is basic but accurate.

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Works Similar to The Givenchy Code
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. PopCo by Scarlett Thomas
  2. Bonnie's Story: A Blonde's Guide to Mathematics by Janis Hill
  3. No Regrets by Shannon Butcher
  4. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  5. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
  6. The Eight by Katherine Neville
  7. Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang
  8. Incomplete Proofs by John Chu
  9. Null Set by S.L. Huang
  10. The Dark Lord by Patricia Simpson
Ratings for The Givenchy Code:
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:
2.75/5 (4 votes)
Literary Quality:
2.25/5 (4 votes)

GenreHumorous, Adventure/Espionage, Romance,
MotifFemale Mathematicians, Romance,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)