The Oxford Murders

by Guillermo Martinez, Sonia Soto (trans.) | Mystery & Thrillers |
ISBN: 014303796x Global Overview for this book
Registered by morsecode of Woonsocket, Rhode Island USA on 12/17/2006
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3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by morsecode from Woonsocket, Rhode Island USA on Sunday, December 17, 2006
The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martínez
translated from the Spanish by Sonia Soto

This very mathematical mystery is Argentine author Guillermo Martínez's third novel (after Regarding Roderer and The Woman of the Master, which has not yet been translated into English).

The story begins in 1993 with the narrator recalling events the recents surrounding a series of murders that took place in Oxfordshire many years earlier. At the time of the murders, he was a post-graduate fellow at the Mathematics Institute at Oxford.

After the first murder (that of the narrator's landlady), the killer leaves a cryptic note in the mailbox of Arthur Seldom, a prominent mathematician who included a chapter on serial killers in his latest book. The killer seems to be poking fun at Seldom and, at the same time, issuing a challenge.

Each murder is represented by a symbol and, added together, the symbols form a series. If the narrator, Seldom, and the police find the solution to the series, it seems, the murders will stop. Martínez, however, uses Gödel’s incompleteness theorem and Wittgenstein's finite rule paradox to illustrate the uncertainty of mathematics and the impossibility of there being only one correct solution to the series.
"Do you really believe he'll stop if we find the solution?" asked Petersen [the detective] doubtfully.
But there was no such thing as the solutioon, I thought. That was the most exasperating things. [...] I wondered how he'd explain minds that took big leaps, Wittgenstein, rule-following paradoxes and the movements of normal bell-curves to Petersen. But Seldom needed only on sentence:
"He'll stop," he said slowly, "if it's the solution that he has in mind." (86-87)
The fact that Martínez is also a professor of mathematics at the Universidad de Buenos Aires can explain the appearance of higher mathematics in The Oxford Murders. Mathematical theory, however, is just one aspect of the novel. The plot is well-constructed and the narrator is a believable character who has many interesting insights as an outsider to British society.

While some readers may lose patience with all the mathematical jargon contained in the dialogue, The Oxford Murders is definitely worth a reader. The book is brimming with potential killers (from the narrator's new girlfriend with her interest in crime, to another Mathematics Institute fellow who closely matches the psychological profile of the killer) and has enough twists and turns toward the end for readers to feel satisfied when they reach the final page.

Journal Entry 2 by morsecode from Woonsocket, Rhode Island USA on Wednesday, December 27, 2006
I'm sending this book off to lovemylife today to help celebrate her Bookaholics month.
I know that she likes mysteries and she doesn't have this one on her bookshelf...
I hope she likes it.

Journal Entry 3 by lovemylife from Campbellsport, Wisconsin USA on Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Thanks, Morsie. The book was in the mail today.

Journal Entry 4 by lovemylife from Campbellsport, Wisconsin USA on Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I finally got this book read and noticed that Ace-or is it Lauren?- has it on her wishlist. So I'm sending it along to Canada.

Journal Entry 5 by morsecode from Woonsocket, Rhode Island USA on Thursday, August 09, 2007
What luck! I''ll be seeing Ace and Hoser this weekend so I''ll pass this book to its new owner then.

Journal Entry 6 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Sunday, August 12, 2007
This was another one I didnt have to fight for since I put the books into piles! I actually almost bookmooched this book earlier this week!! It is a wishlist book (and I think because Karen wrote a review on it that I saw and thought it sounded interesting).

Thanks to you both!!

Journal Entry 7 by HoserLauren at Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Saturday, May 24, 2014
A grad student from Argentina goes to Oxford to carry on his mathematics education. He stays with an elderly lady and her granddaughter in their basement. Shortly after arriving, he finds his landlady dead and famous mathematician Arthur Seldom arriving with a note that tells of her death. This note has a mathematical symbol on it and states the time and place of the death. More murders are expected, with more notes to follow, and the series to be continued.

Given that the premise of this book is mathematical, there is a lot of explaining that needs to be done on series and the theorems behind them. I have a Math degree, and even with that I found that at times I was getting bored with all the math information being thrown out. I did like the discussion about how even with three numbers in a series there are many different solutions, which was causing the standard test creator problems. They gave a sample series with a few sample answers and I had thought that the answer was something that wasn't even presented, but was completely plausible.

This book is rather short and there wasn't really anything in the book that didn't need to be there. There weren't any major plot twists but I enjoyed this book, the mystery, and the math.

Journal Entry 8 by HoserLauren at Toronto, Ontario Canada on Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Released 4 yrs ago (6/10/2014 UTC) at Toronto, Ontario Canada

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