a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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A Frayed Knot (2009)
Felix Culp

Culp takes a classic mystery by Poe and retells it with knotted ropes taking the place of people. For example:

(quoted from A Frayed Knot)

Tyler Trefoil was a Bowline knot....Salty-fibered seafaring knots such as Trefoil - as the reader surely knows - are rarely given to any meaningful degree of introspection. More often they will simply fray slowly, slowly, until one day the either come apart at the fibers, or slip, or are undone, having served their purpose unquestioningly. But, for a common sailors' knot, Trefoil possessed an uncommon disposition. A disposition which created in him a rare inquisitiveness, an analytical bent, and a certain contrarian (And often heretical) perspective as he considered at length the knot condition.

In addition to the puns and parody of philosophy ["the strict Kelvinists" (see here to get the joke), "Why am I a knot and not just a tangled string?"], there is a bit of math in the form of the occult philosophy called "The Topology".

In fact, the mathematical branch of topology does indeed study knots. However, do not imagine that this mystery will serve as a textbook in storybook form. Rather, this story is more of an entertainment for the cogniscenti who already know it than a primer for those who don't.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to A Frayed Knot
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Probability Murder by Michael Flynn
  2. The Use of Geometry in the Modern Novel by Norman Clarke
  3. Dalrymple’s Equation by Paul Fairman
  4. A Killer Theorem by Colin Adams
  5. Without a Trace (Episode: Claus and Effect) by David Amann (writer) / Alicia Kirk (writer) / Bobby Roth (Director)
  6. Schaurige Mathematik by Alexander Mehlmann
  7. Cardano and the Case of the Cubic by Jeff Adams
  8. Mangum, P.I. by Colin Adams
  9. Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
  10. The Mathematicians of Grizzly Drive by Josef Skvorecky
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GenreMystery, Humorous,
MediumShort Stories,

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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)