cover image The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues

Nova Jacobs. Touchstone, $25 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5011-7512-1

The apparent suicide of a legendary mathematician drives Jacobs’s intricate and moving first novel. Isaac Severy, renowned for having developed complex predictive equations for seemingly random events, such as “the erratic pattern of melting ice in the Arctic,” dies in the backyard hot tub at his L.A. home after being electrocuted by a string of Christmas lights. His granddaughter, Hazel Severy, the owner of a struggling Seattle bookstore, receives one last letter from him, postmortem. In the letter, Isaac states that he hopes not to evade the assassin who has been following him; asks Hazel to destroy his “work in Room 137,” except for one equation, which she must hand over to a man whose “favorite pattern is herringbone”; warns her not to stay in his house after October 31st; and tells her that he is but the first of three people who will die. Hazel attempts to honor her grandfather’s cryptic last requests and solve his murder. Plausible depictions of psychologically wounded characters enhance the surprising plot twists. [em]Agent: Lisa Bankoff, Bankoff Collaborative. (Mar.) [/em]