The Calculus of Murder

Erik Rosenthal, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-312-11412-1
Nero Wolfe had his orchids, and Dan Brodsky, the hero of Rosenthal's first novel, has his Oakland Raiders. And his mathematics. And his coffee. And his gerbil. And his poker game, and his radical past and his attempts at gaining an appointment as a college professor. According to simple mathematics, these traits should make Brodsky at least six times as interesting a detective as Wolfe, and make The Calculus of Murder a good book by association, if nothing else.Unfortunately, they do not. When San Francisco corporate mogul Bradford Melton is poisoned at a party celebrating his 55th birthday, the police assume that his spoiled daughter, who has taken up with a radical, is the murderer. She hires liberal attorney Grey Langley to defend her, and he in turn hires his friend Dan Brodsky to locate information to acquit his apparently very guilty client. But Brodsky doesn't want to be a detective; he yearns instead to be a mathematics professor. The problem is he can't get a job since only computer teachers are in demand, so to pay the rent he serves subpoenas for Langley and solves the seemingly unsolvable murder. This isn't as difficult as it might sound, because Rosenthal's San Francisco is a cardboard backdrop, inhabited by stereotypes who act out a slow, repetitious and dull drama. It takes more than a quirky detective to make a good mystery. (November 17)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-0-7089-1887-6
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