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Sonderbooks Book Review of

The Oxford Murders

by Guillermo Martinez

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The Oxford Murders

by Guillermo Martinez
translated by Sonia Soto

Reviewed September 17, 2007.
MacAdam/Cage, San Francisco, 2005. 197 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2006: #2 Mystery Fiction

This delightfully philosophical murder mystery was written by a man from Buenos Aires with a PhD in Mathematics. Of course I liked it!

The character telling the story is a PhD student from Argentina studying at Oxford. He’s staying in an apartment owned by the widow of a great mathematician. One day, soon after he arrived at Oxford, he encounters an eminent logician and together they discover the old woman dead, murdered.

The murderer has left a note, apparently a challenge to Dr. Seldom, the logician. The note refers to the murder as the first of a series, and includes a symbol, a circle. Sure enough, there’s a second murder, along with the symbol of a fish, drawn from two curved lines.

Part of the fun is this book is the mathematical aspects of the case. Dr. Seldom explains that they still don’t have enough information to determine the next symbol in the series. In fact, they can never be absolutely sure they have found what the murderer is thinking of. But perhaps if they can figure out the next item in the series, they can solve the crime.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, a good mysterious puzzle, as well as some interesting things to think about.