The Oxford Murders

08/30/2011 at 12:54 PM (Books, Crime, Mystery) (, , , , , , , )

The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez was actually an interesting book despite its tendency to go into explanations of mathematical theory using formulae that was gibberish to me. For a book that talked heaps about math, it was enjoyable. I may have worked in the past as a supermarket cashier but this algebraic equations stuff was forgotten quickly after high school. We are introduced to a young protagonist, a Spanish scholarship student who is undertaking a mathematics PhD in London. He’s lodging with an old woman, a war veteran widow, who is suffering from cancer and her pretty carer, the violinist Emily. He has barely settled in when the old woman is murdered.

He arrives at the murder scene at the same time as another famous mathematician residing in London. The two come to the conclusion the work is characteristic of a serial killer who is trying to commit “imperceptible murders” and advances this theory to the police. They too try to predict the pattern of the murders on their own by studying mathematic patterns and reading up on psychological profiles. In the middle of this is the story about Fermat’s Theorem being solved by Andrew Wiles (who actually spent 25 years on it by the way). What is funny is that I finished reading The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson recently and it also tells us the story of Fermat’s Theorem as an anecdote. This French mathematician is a popular fellow in the literary world.

oxford-murders-book

To get back to the crux of it, there are three more murders but the fourth doesn’t fit the pattern. It turns out there is a connection at the hospital where his girlfriend works to a father, who’s a bus driver, waiting for his kid to receive a kidney transplant. He has been mentally affected by the necessity of Christians to have a full body for burial to preserve their souls. When our main character realises how far a parent would go for their child, he realises the truth about who the real murderer is and manages to figure out who “committed” the ensuing murders. If you are interested, there is also a movie based on the book starring Elijah Wood. I thought it was funny I read this book at the time of this Google Doodle.

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