Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Square Root of Murder by Ada Madison

book cover

The Square Root of Murder
by Ada Madison

ISBN-13: 9780425242193
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: July 5, 2011

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Dr. Sophie Knowles teaches math at Henley College in Massachusetts. Between teaching, publishing puzzles and brainteasers, and beading at the local bead shop, Sophie has a full schedule, but her students adore her because she always finds a way to make the most intimidating math seem fun.

When Dr. Keith Appleton--the most disliked professor on campus--is found dead, all of the evidence points toward Sophie's assistant, Rachel. But it seems like a setup. It's clear that other people are keeping secrets, and Rachel's not the only one with motive enough to kill. Sophie decides to do some digging of her own in case the police overlook something that someone like her, who's familiar with the people involved, would see.

My Review:
The Square Root of Murder is a cozy mystery. The setup was one where any character could have done the murder, and Sophie was able to spot pertinent clues as fast as the reader. I didn't spend much time guessing whodunit, but, at one point, I did think (without much conviction), "Huh, I bet such-and-such did it." Turns out, I was right. So it is guessable.

Details about the various jobs (professor, emergency worker, beading store owner, detective) and the setting were woven into the story and brought the story alive in my imagination. The characters were interesting and dealt with realistic problems. The one thing that kind of confused me was that Sophie, who's analytical and works math puzzles to calm down, had such a vivid imagination that she was almost paranoid. Granted, she realized when her response was foolish, but that didn't stop her from acting on her paranoid feelings. However, she acted more logically as the story progressed, so I felt comfortable with her by the end.

Since the characters didn't seem religious, I'm assuming the minor use of "God" (usually in the phrase--written out--of OMG) was swearing. The was one use of borderline bad language and one use of fake bad language. There were no sex scenes. (There was one instance where kissing or more was probably being implied.) Overall, I'm recommend this well-written, enjoyable novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Who thought summer school was a good idea? Especially in Massachusetts, where the humidity can take your breath away, never mind frizz up your hair.

I loved teaching in one of the oldest buildings on the beautiful campus of Henley College. Today, however, with the temperature hovering around ninety-five degrees, I'd have been willing to give up the magnificent collegiate architecture of Benjamin Franklin Hall for a sleek, modern, air-conditioned building.

But I had only myself to blame for the fact that I was teaching on a wretched Thursday morning in July. I'd persuaded the dean to fund a learning center in Franklin, the building that housed Henley's mathematics and science departments.

I was the go-to person for a program that provided tutoring sessions, online problem sets, videos, and classes in special topics for students at every level of achievement in math.

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