The Square Root of Murder
Berkley, Jul 5 2011, $6.99
At Henley College in Massachusetts, Professor Sophie Knowles is a student favorite as she makes math easy to understand. She also, under a pseudonym, publishes puzzles and brain teasers in various publications. In her microscopic spare time, she does craftwork in the form of beading at her friend Ariana’s store. The one description she never thought would apply to her is amateur sleuth, but that is what happens when the college’s most unpopular professor, who is disliked by students and teachers alike, is murdered.
The police are looking at Sophie’s assistant Rachel as their prime suspect. Keith Appleton was giving Rachel a hard time with her thesis and she was heard saying terrible things about him. The cops find a report on yellow paper that Rachel wrote all marked in red saying sarcastic things about her research. Sophie believes Rachel is innocent so she sets out to prove her assertion. However, she soon realizes that Rachel and three other students lied about what they knew about the crime scene. Sophie keeps digging, but almost digs her owngrave.
Although an amateur sleuth placing herself in peril being a sub-genre recurring scenario, and a puzzle solver lead has been done by Parnell Hall (see The Puzzle Lady series); Ada Madison provides a fresh entertaining whodunit due to the college setting and the fortyish mathematician. Sophie is an intelligent person who works her investigation using the same skills she applies to math problems and puzzle making. The heroine lives a full life with her significant other, has good friends and a job she loves; and though her days are jammed, she makes time to search for the killer in this enjoyable new academic mystery series.