L.A. Math: Romance, Crime, and Mathematics in the City of Angels

James D. Stein. Princeton Univ., $24.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-691-16828-9
An intriguing and original premise distinguishes this slight collection of 14 short mystery stories from retired math professor Stein (Cosmic Numbers). Freddy Carmichael, a freelance PI, has just moved to L.A. after separating from his wife. Luckily, Freddy’s new landlord, Pete Lennox, has a gift for unraveling puzzles, and the two end up going into business together. The solution to each mystery, not all of which involve a crime, illustrates a different mathematical concept (set theory, arithmetic progressions, percentages, etc.). Unfortunately, Freddy and Peter are pretty thin leads, and the questions that they must resolve aren’t particularly sophisticated (one hinges on an understanding of compound interest). The simplistic tenor is more likely to remind readers of Donald Sobol’s Two-Minute Mysteries series than Marshall Jevons’s Harry Spearman mysteries, most recently The Mystery of the Invisible Hand, which successfully integrates economic principles into a whodunit plot line. Agent: Don Fehr, Trident Media Group. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015
Release date: 01/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4008-7338-8
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