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The Square Root of Murder

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Dr. Sophie Knowles teaches math at Henley College in Massachusetts, but when a colleague turns up dead, it's up to her to find the killer before someone else gets subtracted. Dr. Sophie Knowles teaches math at Henley College in Massachusetts, but when a colleague turns up dead, it's up to her to find the killer before someone else gets subtracted.


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Dr. Sophie Knowles teaches math at Henley College in Massachusetts, but when a colleague turns up dead, it's up to her to find the killer before someone else gets subtracted. Dr. Sophie Knowles teaches math at Henley College in Massachusetts, but when a colleague turns up dead, it's up to her to find the killer before someone else gets subtracted.

30 review for The Square Root of Murder

  1. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    The only reason I finished this book was to eke out as many more books I could this year to get the tiniest bit closer to my 2011 reading challenge (which I have absolutely no chance of actually meeting). This book makes my boycott list, since it's labeled as a "Sophie Knowles Mystery #1" so Madison is obviously going to churn out at least a few more of these stupid books. And I, for one, won't waste any more of my time. Not only is this not a good book, but I'd go so far to say that this is a b The only reason I finished this book was to eke out as many more books I could this year to get the tiniest bit closer to my 2011 reading challenge (which I have absolutely no chance of actually meeting). This book makes my boycott list, since it's labeled as a "Sophie Knowles Mystery #1" so Madison is obviously going to churn out at least a few more of these stupid books. And I, for one, won't waste any more of my time. Not only is this not a good book, but I'd go so far to say that this is a bad book. It's a case-in-point of how to tell instead of show. This book is overflowing with irrelevant details (about the boyfriend's love of movies, the boyfriend's job, the clothing the narrator is wearing during every single scene, the clothing every other character is wearing during every single scene, the narrator's favorite color, the narrator's favorite tea, and on, and on, and on, and on) but absolutely zero atmosphere or graspable setting. The dialogue is bad, and plot is unbelievable, and the characters are so bland that I almost can't care enough about them to dislike them. Don't read this book. But if you ever want to make a quick buck with a mediocre mystery novel, send it to Berkley Publishing, since they'll obviously publish anything.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ronan Drew

    Mysteries with amateur detectives who are mathemeticians or scientists or that feature math and science have a particular pull for me. As the years have gone by I've become more interested in, for example, algebra, and do quadratic equations for fun - they are so much more relaxing than reading serious literature because they have a definitive answer with little ambiguity. The same goes with mysteries of course and this first in a series about college math teacher Sophie Knowles is a treat. A se Mysteries with amateur detectives who are mathemeticians or scientists or that feature math and science have a particular pull for me. As the years have gone by I've become more interested in, for example, algebra, and do quadratic equations for fun - they are so much more relaxing than reading serious literature because they have a definitive answer with little ambiguity. The same goes with mysteries of course and this first in a series about college math teacher Sophie Knowles is a treat. A second book in the series comes out in March. 2011 No 191

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    Series: 1st in Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries Main Character: Math Professor Sophie Knowles who creates puzzles for publication in her spare time Setting: Modern day, Henley Massachusetts Obtained Through: Publisher for an honest review. Dr. Keith Appleton, a fellow professor, is widely disliked. He is caustic, contentious, and mean spirited. So it doesn't surprise Sophie when her assistant Rachel shares that Dr. Appleton is being difficult about her thesis for him. When Dr. Appleton is found po Series: 1st in Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries Main Character: Math Professor Sophie Knowles who creates puzzles for publication in her spare time Setting: Modern day, Henley Massachusetts Obtained Through: Publisher for an honest review. Dr. Keith Appleton, a fellow professor, is widely disliked. He is caustic, contentious, and mean spirited. So it doesn't surprise Sophie when her assistant Rachel shares that Dr. Appleton is being difficult about her thesis for him. When Dr. Appleton is found poisoned and the pages of Rachel's thesis are scattered around him it appears she killed him. Sophie can't help herself as she starts looking into the case on her own. What she finds surprises her in many ways. Who knew Dr. Appleton had a soft side? Sophie is a character I liked quickly. She is smart in math but a little sheltered. She actually concerns herself with caring about people and feels guilty that she felt Dr. Appleton was an ogre. The story is in first person which isn't my favorite but this one was okay for me. I liked how her best friend is more a free spirit and not as analytical but their relationship works. Sophie's boyfriend Bruce seems like a good guy (Medevac helicopter pilot who is a movie buff) who isn't harping about her investigating - a plus in my book. The plot is good, not overly complicated but there are plenty of suspects and Sophie approaches it logically. The climax had some tense moments as the killer confronts Sophie. The wrap up was good. I especially enjoyed the interaction with the Dean (who often censured Sophie) towards the end. I liked that it is an easy read, inspite of the math, with just enough mystery. Out of the gate it was a little slow as the reader is introduced to Sophie and the basic situation, but I thought it picked up once the murder occurred. I must be a geek myself because I enjoy brainy characters like this. I enjoyed the Periodic Table Mysteries and was disheartened when that series came to a halt. I also enjoy mysteries around academic settings with the micro world of campus life. This story brings the campus politics and professor-student as well as professor-professor relationships into the spotlight. If you enjoy your heroine smart and not-too-complicated consider this mystery.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jill Heather

    I guess it's readable if you're in desperate need of a cozy mystery. The narrator doesn't appear to be human (I know mathematicians, and they are human), the writing is heavy on the boring description, and the town/college -- Healey? -- feels like someone who vaguely remembers school but has watched movies set in fictional liberal arts colleges decided to create a small town with a college but no crime, no town vs gown problem, only one graduate student (who, though at the thesis writing stage, I guess it's readable if you're in desperate need of a cozy mystery. The narrator doesn't appear to be human (I know mathematicians, and they are human), the writing is heavy on the boring description, and the town/college -- Healey? -- feels like someone who vaguely remembers school but has watched movies set in fictional liberal arts colleges decided to create a small town with a college but no crime, no town vs gown problem, only one graduate student (who, though at the thesis writing stage, still has homework), and a Medevac helicopter unit. I don't know about the last item, but the rest seems unlikely. I didn't hate the book, but I will probably avoid reading any more by the author. Why bother?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Not your typical Cozy mystery, in place of recipes at the end. Really interesting to find math and science in a novel that's not science fiction. I'll be reading more of this series and looking for the authors other series based on the periodic table. Why is 6 afraid of 7?   ANSWER: Because 7 8 9. Not your typical Cozy mystery, in place of recipes at the end. Really interesting to find math and science in a novel that's not science fiction. I'll be reading more of this series and looking for the authors other series based on the periodic table. Why is 6 afraid of 7?   ANSWER: Because 7 8 9.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Isa

    (That's a terrible pun in the description and this is coming from a person who keeps making terrible puns herself.) I read this book for May's Pick-For-Me because I have all these cozies on my tbr and I never actuall read them. It wasn't too shabby! Well done, Ren, your choices are getting better! (Though I should add that while it wasn't too shabby, it also wasn't too good. I was mostly entertained by all the wtf moments that were flung at me. It was really quite hilarious.) There's not much to s (That's a terrible pun in the description and this is coming from a person who keeps making terrible puns herself.) I read this book for May's Pick-For-Me because I have all these cozies on my tbr and I never actuall read them. It wasn't too shabby! Well done, Ren, your choices are getting better! (Though I should add that while it wasn't too shabby, it also wasn't too good. I was mostly entertained by all the wtf moments that were flung at me. It was really quite hilarious.) There's not much to say really because this is a cozy mystery and they kind of always follow the same rules, you know. Still, it was an interesting spin with a maths professor headlining this particular series. The mystery wasn't much of a mystery once I figured out who did it but I was curious to see how Sophie would solve it and react. So... The plot didn't exactly set the world on fire, and it was really quite obvious once some particular keywords were said at 48% (I totally called it) but I was fine with that. Not so much with Sophie, who was obnoxious and way too pushy for her own good (or rather the police's good, because frankly I would've charged her with obstruction of justice). I don't really understand Sophie's motivation to ~investigate~ (if you want to call it that) other than trying to clear her friend's name (who she is certain is innocent because she's a nice girl... except that everyone hated the victim so literally anyone could've just snapped and done the deed). She doesn't really have any skills other than saying she's good at puzzles and considering that she feels oh so qualified it's kind of a letdown that it takes her so long to figure it all out. (Of course we must understand that literally everyone is simply too nice to do it...) While I didn't have to force myself through the book (I really did want to know if I was right when I called the killer), I was still sort of disappointed by the end of it. The victim is this supposed bad person that everyone hates but then we hear from three people that that's not true and that the victim considered Sophie to be their best friend (uhm... what?). Add to that the fact that the victim has some sort of blackmail material on some particular people and I'm just left confused because those things are never cleared up. Like why? Why? W h y? I don't understand the victim's motivation any more than I understand baseball. In fact, the victim is killed because they were blackmailing other people BUT I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY WERE EVEN BLACKMAILING THEM WITH. THERE IS ZERO INFORMATION GIVEN. And on top of that some of that blackmail material is just absolutely ridiculous and in my opinion has no bearing whatsoever on the blackmail victim's life/career/existence, and yet it's made an issue. Like, sorry, the 1800s called, they want their opinions back. As for the characterisation in general, the characters were all really flat and mostly identified by one signifier. The main character is a mathsy person who is aces at puzzles (or so she says...), so she's ALWAYS doing puzzles. Like, walking from her living room to the bathroom there are three puzzles on the way that she just happens to fill out... as you do. She's described as wearing lots of summery flowery dresses (if I remember correctly) but she doesn't sound anything like she would do that. All I saw was a pressed middle-aged woman in a suit, tbh. It's just lists of facts for the characters but it doesn't really come together. Then there's absolutely over the top names that may be not over the top if you're American, but I thought it was unnecessary that there was a dude called Virgil and a lady called Elteen. I actually had to google the latter because I was almost sure that that couldn't be a name. (I've now learned that names in America are not as complicated and regulated as they are in Germany.) Generally it just felt very orchestrated which was more exasperating than entertaining. And that brings me to the things that did entertain me. (And I swear they did, even though it sounds differently below.) Because I was hella entertained by the "what?!" moments. For one thing, Sophie doesn't know how phones work. In the 2010s. Riiight. Even my tech-illiterate dad knows how his fancy smartphone works. “Not a chance,” I said. Message received, I noticed, as the girls dropped their shoulders and sighed. Maybe it was all the texting we did these days that enabled this kind of shorthand communication even without the benefit of an electronic device. That is possibly the most patronising and rude thing I've read lately about the current generation of teens and young adults. SO PATRONISING OMG GASP THEY UNDERSTOOD THREE WORDS WITHOUT YOU HAVING TO CLARIFY EVEN FURTHER THAT THERE WAS NO CHANCE OF THEM BEING LET INSIDE THE BUILDING WOW KIDS THESE DAYS THEY ARE SO WELL VERSED WITH SHORT SENTENCES IT MUST BE THE CURSE OF TEXTING THAT MAKES THEM REACT LIKE THIS. In other news, T9 is a thing of the past and I write run-on sentences on my phone like a pro. No need for ~shorthand communication~ here to save time. I waited while the phone dialed. Or whatever these smartphones did. I BET THEY DANCED THE POLKA BEFORE TRAVELLING TO MARS TO DO SOME WEIRD SMARTPHONE MAGIC SO YOU CAN TALK TO THE PERSON WHOSE NUMBER YOU'VE DIALLED. Or not dialled. Whatever these smartphones do... Still, I hoped Bruce wouldn’t travel too far out of range of my cell. THAT IS NOT HOW PHONES WORK YOU ARE THINKING OF IDK TIN CAN TELEPHONES. Sorry, when has there ever been a phone (and not some other technology) that relies on proximity to another phone? I'm flabbergasted, negl. Speaking of how things do not work: I’d read somewhere that cyanide had an almond smell, but that not everyone had the gene to detect the odor. Apparently I was one of those lucky ones who possessed the gene, and could smell cyanide even when there was none within miles. THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS. NOT EVEN REMOTELY. HOW DO YOU EVEN RATIONALISE THESE THOUGHTS??? Hint: Probably not at all because of course this comes from the person who thinks she is smarter than the police... I wasn’t proud of the other reason either, that I thought I was smarter than the police—hadn’t I already proven otherwise, in several orders of magnitude?—and that I’d be able to see at a glance something they’d missed. AND YET YOU KEEP POKING YOUR NOSE IN IT. How clever of the police to ask Woody that question. They were so thorough, maybe I was wasting my time. THEY ARE THE POLICE WHAT DID YOU EXPECT I was thoroughly impressed and moved to hysterical giggles because Sophie's actions are just so misguided and outright crazy. I'm just... how does a character like this even exist and manage to justify their actions to themselves. How? It's just incredibly amusing to me. Oh well. All that said and ranted over and raged about, I swear the book wasn't bad. It was an okay read with some seriously misguided character opinions and thoughts. There weren't really any puzzle-y bits in it (except for a handful after the end but they weren't even challenging) and the whole math-related stuff was unnecessary because it didn't show up at all, unless it was mentioned that by the way Sophie is a maths professor!!! In case you forgot!!! She also likes to create puzzles!! The mystery wasn't too bad, even though I figured it out before the halfway point, but I guess what irks me is that in the end there is no real closure. I still don't know why exactly the victim was a shitty person and I still don't know why exactly they were killed. If you like cozy mysteries and if you don't mind the things mentioned above, you should give this book a shot. (And even if you do mind, you might get a kick out of the ineptitude of people in their 40s who do not understand how phones work.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    This was a fun new series by a favorite author (Camilla Minichino). The main character is Dr. Sophie Knowles, a professor of mathematics at a small New England college. When a colleague is killed, Sophie starts trying to solve the puzzle of who killed him, and why. Since one of her passions is puzzles, solving them as well as designing them, she thinks she is well suited to this role of sleuth. Her current boyfriend and his best friend, a cop, try and convince her to stay out of investigation bu This was a fun new series by a favorite author (Camilla Minichino). The main character is Dr. Sophie Knowles, a professor of mathematics at a small New England college. When a colleague is killed, Sophie starts trying to solve the puzzle of who killed him, and why. Since one of her passions is puzzles, solving them as well as designing them, she thinks she is well suited to this role of sleuth. Her current boyfriend and his best friend, a cop, try and convince her to stay out of investigation but she persists because she not only knew the victim but knows most of the people who could be considered suspects. I enjoyed all the puzzle lore and the fact that Sophie was so dedicated to her students and her friends. There was a little concern that she was pushing so hard to be involved in the case, at first thinking she "had it over" the cops. Once she realized that the cops weren't idiots and that she needed to share the information she possessed things smoothed out for me and I was able to enjoy the rest of the book. I didn't see the ending coming so that was a plus for me. I hope there are more books coming in this series.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Turns out Ada Madison is another name for Camille Minichino. I really enjoyed her Miniatures series so I was looking forward to this. I enjoy puzzles (Sudoko, crosswords, etc.) so a book about a professor who does this kind of thing seemed like a good bet. I do like Sophie and her boyfriend but the whole thing was just a little ... not sure how to put it... dry? It was one that I could read and put down and then start reading again later without being driven to finish it all at one sitting. Not Turns out Ada Madison is another name for Camille Minichino. I really enjoyed her Miniatures series so I was looking forward to this. I enjoy puzzles (Sudoko, crosswords, etc.) so a book about a professor who does this kind of thing seemed like a good bet. I do like Sophie and her boyfriend but the whole thing was just a little ... not sure how to put it... dry? It was one that I could read and put down and then start reading again later without being driven to finish it all at one sitting. Not too bad but not my favorite.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Janet Clark

    My kind of novel. An intelligent female protagonist with a highly developed sense of humor. You'll love the brainteasers and puzzles. Excellent airplane book. My kind of novel. An intelligent female protagonist with a highly developed sense of humor. You'll love the brainteasers and puzzles. Excellent airplane book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ann

    It is summer session and Sophie and some of her colleagues have parties to celebrate whatever and this gets on the bad side of another professor who feels that he has to be hard on all his colleagues and his students. This makes him very unpopular on the campus. When he doesn't get his way he becomes even more unpleasant. When he is found dead, the suspect list is very long and Virgil (a police detective friend) comes to Sophie now and again as she learns things. She feels that she has to find o It is summer session and Sophie and some of her colleagues have parties to celebrate whatever and this gets on the bad side of another professor who feels that he has to be hard on all his colleagues and his students. This makes him very unpopular on the campus. When he doesn't get his way he becomes even more unpleasant. When he is found dead, the suspect list is very long and Virgil (a police detective friend) comes to Sophie now and again as she learns things. She feels that she has to find out who really murdered her colleague and keep the innocent students from taking the rap. This took me a little time to read but was well worth the time. I did enjoy it and will be reading some of the others in the series.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Deanie Nelder

    When a hated colleague is murdered and her own assistant implicated, math professor Dr. Sophie Knowles uses her puzzle solving skills to help the police solve the crime. I'm surprised by a lot of the low ratings given to this book. I though it was a fun, clever mystery. I don't know a lot about small, Massachusetts liberal arts colleges, but it doesn't seem too far off base to me. I know a lot of math-and-science focused people who are like Sophie. While not everything flows smoothly (like the f When a hated colleague is murdered and her own assistant implicated, math professor Dr. Sophie Knowles uses her puzzle solving skills to help the police solve the crime. I'm surprised by a lot of the low ratings given to this book. I though it was a fun, clever mystery. I don't know a lot about small, Massachusetts liberal arts colleges, but it doesn't seem too far off base to me. I know a lot of math-and-science focused people who are like Sophie. While not everything flows smoothly (like the false confession and sudden reveal of the killer), it's still a good start to series I can't wait to read more of.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lollyletsgo

    It was a twisty tale with lots of red herrings, so I was guessing up to the end of whodunnit- so that I liked- I loved the word puzzles at the end. I'm not sure I can put my finger on why it's a 3.5 in my head, but if I suss it out from the cobwebs up there, I'll update this post. ;] It was a twisty tale with lots of red herrings, so I was guessing up to the end of whodunnit- so that I liked- I loved the word puzzles at the end. I'm not sure I can put my finger on why it's a 3.5 in my head, but if I suss it out from the cobwebs up there, I'll update this post. ;]

  13. 4 out of 5

    James Duyck

    I liked this. Not sure if someone super into mysteries would or not.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gale Wilkinson

    New series for me. I enjoyed this one very much. Loved the characters and the mystery.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Math professor Sophie Knowles is teaching summer school on the small campus of Henley College in Massachusetts. While on the job, Sophie uses math games and activities to help students better understand math. A true devotee of mathematics, Sophie’s idea of relaxing is devising puzzles and brainteasers for publication. Sophie’s assistant Rachel is trying to get accepted to medical school, but doesn’t stand a chance without a recommendation from her advisor. Unfortunately, Rachel’s advisor is the u Math professor Sophie Knowles is teaching summer school on the small campus of Henley College in Massachusetts. While on the job, Sophie uses math games and activities to help students better understand math. A true devotee of mathematics, Sophie’s idea of relaxing is devising puzzles and brainteasers for publication. Sophie’s assistant Rachel is trying to get accepted to medical school, but doesn’t stand a chance without a recommendation from her advisor. Unfortunately, Rachel’s advisor is the unpopular professor Dr. Keith Appleton who has said he will not give her the needed recommendation. Rachel is understandably furious, but while she isn’t the only person that has issues with the professor, circumstances put her at the top of the suspect list when Dr. Appleton is murdered. Sophie is convinced Rachel is innocent and is determined to solve the murder based on facts and logic, the way she would one of her math problems. "The Square Root of Murder" is a well-written mystery with an interesting setting and appealing characters. I enjoyed getting a glimpse at life as a professor, both the good (getting the chance to help young people succeed in college) and the bad (academic politics). Sophie is a unique and engaging main character. She is extremely intelligent, caring, and compassionate, even when in the course of the investigation she learns sensitive secrets about another character that hasn’t always treated her fairly. The primary supporting characters are also likeable. Sophie’s best friend Ariana Volens owns a bead shop and is all about intuition and more mystical things like reading a person’s aura in contrast to Sophie’s practical, logical way of dealing with things. Ariana is constantly trying to get Sophie to loosen up and enjoy things like beading and meeting new people, when Sophie would be satisfied staying home and working on a puzzle. However, Ariana’s encouragements are obviously done out of caring and she’s not pushy or bossy. Their personalities complement each other, and the two friends make a good pair. Sophie’s boyfriend Bruce Granville is a medevac helicopter pilot and is likeable, but somewhat of an unknown. While I don’t feel I really get to know this character, what I see is that he is a brave, kind person who truly cares about Sophie. If he remains involved with Sophie in future books, his character will need to be further developed in order to make the series even better. I love the way "The Square Root of Murder" is constructed. Nothing is random in this cleverly plotted book. Different aspects of the characters and events that occur throughout the book are all important pieces of the puzzle which come together in the satisfying conclusion. While the summer session comes to a close at the end of the book, I am looking forward to another “term” with Professor Knowles in the classroom and on another case! The author’s new series will appeal to fans of the academic mysteries written by Amanda Cross or Maggie Barbieri. Ava Madison is a pen name for author Camille Minichino. The entertaining and intelligent writing style will appeal to those enjoy Minichino’s physics related mysteries or the cozies written under her other pen name, Margaret Grace. This review was originally written for the "Season for Romance" E-Zine. The book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bert

    I wanted to like this more. It's probably 2.5 stars and I went with the 3 for wishful thinking reasons. I thought the particular career choice for the hero was a nice break from crafting crafting cooking crafting crafting, which make up the staple choices for this genre. I liked that even though this was the first book her partner was already established so I didn't have to slug through a tedious get-together plotline. I liked the layers the author gave to the murder victim. I liked that for a r I wanted to like this more. It's probably 2.5 stars and I went with the 3 for wishful thinking reasons. I thought the particular career choice for the hero was a nice break from crafting crafting cooking crafting crafting, which make up the staple choices for this genre. I liked that even though this was the first book her partner was already established so I didn't have to slug through a tedious get-together plotline. I liked the layers the author gave to the murder victim. I liked that for a reasonable portion of the book (by cozy standards) Sophie is prying within the scope of nosiness, into people she is strongly connected to, rather than just randomly going whole hog into the amateur PI business. Buuut it just didn't quite work as well as I'd have liked. The reprieve from crafting is false, because of course she is a beader and a bead shop is prominent in the tale (why didn't I read the blurb I THOUGHT I COULD ESCAPE CRAFTS). Her original influx of info on the case is way too easy, and when she makes the step well away from nosy parker into full meddling sleuth, her acceptance into the trust of the police is also way too easy. And a weird number of times we are treated to incidental observations, offhand "factual" statements or even plot-changing leaps of logic based on How Girls Act vs. How Boys Act. The moment where Sophie realises who the real killer must be is based entirely on her observation that (view spoiler)[boys are happy to take out the garbage but they won't write on cards??? (hide spoiler)] which is not only incredibly flimsy but also not even a stereotype I had ever actually heard before in my entire life. In (view spoiler)[the obligatory showdown with the killer (hide spoiler)] Sophie even takes the time out to hope that (view spoiler)[Gil is not carrying weapons in her pocketed vest, but "lipstick and tissues like a normal woman" (hide spoiler)] . Plus her reaction to the unveiling of the killer just seems ... inconsistent with Sophie's personality throughout the rest of the book, where she had always seemed very sad and empathetic about the thought of anyone going to jail, even if they were guilty. (view spoiler)[When she thought the killer was Hal, Gil's husband, Sophie was devastated at the thought of him leaving behind a wife and child when he went to jail, but apparently Gil deserved no such sympathy. Maybe this is just because Gil attacked Sophie, but I can't even figure out why Gil did that. "Boys don't write on cards lol" and a handwriting expert with some new samples is pretty weak in the face of Hal insisting he did write on the card and commit the murder. (hide spoiler)] PS the alleged "puzzles and brainteasers included" as advertised on front cover are super lame baby puzzles in the back but I didn't deduct stars for that.

  17. 5 out of 5

    LORI CASWELL

    Henley College in Massachusetts is quite a place and Dr. Sophie Knowles teaches math there. She also makes math puzzles and brain teasers for several publications. Her students love her. She also has a hunky boyfriend who is a helicopter pilot for a medical evacuation and transfer group, MAstar. A tradition at the Math/Sciences Building, Benjamin Franklin Hall, is to celebrate birthdays of famous scholars with the students. Something terrible happens at the latest party that changes everything fo Henley College in Massachusetts is quite a place and Dr. Sophie Knowles teaches math there. She also makes math puzzles and brain teasers for several publications. Her students love her. She also has a hunky boyfriend who is a helicopter pilot for a medical evacuation and transfer group, MAstar. A tradition at the Math/Sciences Building, Benjamin Franklin Hall, is to celebrate birthdays of famous scholars with the students. Something terrible happens at the latest party that changes everything for several party attendees. Dr. Keith Appleton, without a doubt the most disliked member of faculty at Henley, is found dead in his office. All the evidence points to Sophie's assistant Rachel, as the prime suspect, for several reasons including the fact that he refused to recommend her for medical school. Sophie knows there is absolutely no possibility or probability that Rachel could have killed the professor. Sophie decides to do a little investigating of her own trying to factor out just who the actual killer is, while being careful not to get herself subtracted completely out of the equation. This is a wonderful debut to a really smart new series. The setting is intriguing, the plot complex but not over the top and the characters span the gambit. These are characters that I am sure to fall in love with as the series continues. Ada Madison knows her subject matter very well. She has a Ph. D. in a Physics and a BA in Mathematics. She is also a fantastic storyteller so even those of us who did not excel in math or science still feel at home with this story. She has published other series, under different aliases and her Web Page tells you all about them, plus even has puzzles too. This is my first experience with this author but will be working some of her other works into my reading schedule. I also will be anxiously awaiting the next edition to the Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries. They are off to a marvelous start. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marlyn

    Math scares a lot of people. Mathematics professor Dr. Sophie Knowles, protagonist of this new mystery series, reminds me of my very first high school math teacher (whose name, sadly, I forget) who made algebra and geometry fun for me. Sophie teaches math at Henley College in the fictional town of Henley, MA, and tries very hard to make it enjoyable. Her assistant, Rachel Wheeler, who is hoping to get into medical school, is a student who has become a friend. But Rachel needs to pass chemistry fi Math scares a lot of people. Mathematics professor Dr. Sophie Knowles, protagonist of this new mystery series, reminds me of my very first high school math teacher (whose name, sadly, I forget) who made algebra and geometry fun for me. Sophie teaches math at Henley College in the fictional town of Henley, MA, and tries very hard to make it enjoyable. Her assistant, Rachel Wheeler, who is hoping to get into medical school, is a student who has become a friend. But Rachel needs to pass chemistry first, and the chemistry professor Dr. Keith Appleton is not making it easy for her. Appleton makes life difficult for most people at Henley College, including Sophie, although she does her best to get along with him. One afternoon while celebrating the promotion of another colleague, Hal Bartholomew, from instructor to assistant professor, Rachel and other members of the department are expressing pleasure that Keith Appleton is not in attendance. Upset by their unprofessional behavior, Sophie chastises them, and in apology, Rachel offers to take some cake to the chemistry professor. At home later that evening, Sophie receives a phone call from Rachel, who has been at the police station answering questions about the death of Dr. Appleton. Since Rachel was probably the last to see him alive, Sophie is certain that the police will focus on her assistant as the killer. Even more certain that Rachel is innocent, Sophie has to find a way to convince the authorities of it. Ada Madison is a pseudonym for Camille Minichino, author of The Periodic Table Mysteries, a series of eight books featuring Gloria Lamerino, a retired professor of physics. As a faculty member at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, Dr. Minichino writes about the academic life from experience, and describes the academic life and people accurately (having been a graduate student in more than one department I can affirm this) and with humor.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Text Addict

    Oddly, the victim - whom we never meet - is the most complex and interesting character in this book. That's not a flaw, by the way; the protagonist is interesting enough as cozy mystery protagonists go (and more than some, but them I'm biased in favor of university professor protagonists from the get-go), but the late Professor Appleton is a study in contrasts, and a strong-willed, difficult, and opinionated individual to boot. That makes him much more prominent than most mystery-novel victims, w Oddly, the victim - whom we never meet - is the most complex and interesting character in this book. That's not a flaw, by the way; the protagonist is interesting enough as cozy mystery protagonists go (and more than some, but them I'm biased in favor of university professor protagonists from the get-go), but the late Professor Appleton is a study in contrasts, and a strong-willed, difficult, and opinionated individual to boot. That makes him much more prominent than most mystery-novel victims, which tend (understandably) to focus more on the people who are still alive. I'm not sure that's what the author intended, but I've given the book an extra star for it. For the rest, protagonist Sophie Knowles is a mathematics professor at a small private college in Massachusetts. Her hobby/second job is writing puzzles; her best friend runs a bead shop and tries to convince Sophie to take various new-agey ideas seriously (doesn't work well). The whodunit aspect itself is a puzzle, too, though some may feel that the murderer's identity falls back on the too-easy [spoiler redacted] motive. But the author is an experienced writer and knows how to develop interesting characters and keep a story going even through the inevitable pauses in the investigation. Ada Madison, it turns out, is a pen name for Camille Minichino, whose prior work was a series featuring a retired physicist. According to her short biography, she herself has been a physicist; all of which explains the easy familiarity with math and science displayed by Prof. Knowles. I shall have to look out for the eight "Periodic Table" mysteries - as well as the second volume of this new series. (And maybe her other mystery series featuring a miniaturist.)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Max

    This was a pretty fun cozy mystery. The idea of a mathematician and puzzle writer as a protagonist is a clever one, and the small university setting provides for a good amount of tension and drama that can lead to murder plots. (Of course, there's the amusing note that there hasn't been a murder in the town for years before this book, and yet since this is a series, the murder rate is obviously going to skyrocket.) There was definitely some nice use of Sophie's knowledge for finding clues and so This was a pretty fun cozy mystery. The idea of a mathematician and puzzle writer as a protagonist is a clever one, and the small university setting provides for a good amount of tension and drama that can lead to murder plots. (Of course, there's the amusing note that there hasn't been a murder in the town for years before this book, and yet since this is a series, the murder rate is obviously going to skyrocket.) There was definitely some nice use of Sophie's knowledge for finding clues and solving the mystery. I did also like the concept of a helicopter rescue pilot for a boyfriend, although I feel like that aspect of things could have been used a lot more. But perhaps someone else has done a cozy with a similar concept for their protagonist. The murder victim is nicely complex, since there are various sides to his character and it's hard to decide whether he's sympathetic or not. The setting is cute, although the college ends up feeling a bit too small due to the focus on the STEM departments. There's a map of campus, but it only shows part of things. Even if they don't come up, I would've appreciated a sense of the whole area. The plot itself is pretty good. There's a corpse pretty quickly, which is a must for cozies as far as I'm concerned. There's a few subplots and complications that occur, and even a false conclusion, which was nice. I was a little annoyed that the protagonist's concern over the way her friend is accused kinda disappears partway through. The identity of the murderer makes sense and works pretty well, and all in all, it's a fun story. I'm definitely going to read more of this series when I get the chance.

  21. 5 out of 5

    bella

    Professor Sophie Knowles is a mathematician professor at Henley College. In her spare time she likes to create brain teasers and solve puzzles. When the most disliked professor, Dr Keith Appelton, turns up dead, due to poison, Sophie sees this as not just another puzzle to solve, but also a way to clear up her assistant's name. This was my very first time reading a cozy mystery series that featured brain teasers, puzzles and a mathematician professor and I loved every minute of it. While I only h Professor Sophie Knowles is a mathematician professor at Henley College. In her spare time she likes to create brain teasers and solve puzzles. When the most disliked professor, Dr Keith Appelton, turns up dead, due to poison, Sophie sees this as not just another puzzle to solve, but also a way to clear up her assistant's name. This was my very first time reading a cozy mystery series that featured brain teasers, puzzles and a mathematician professor and I loved every minute of it. While I only have a basic understanding of math - I definitely had a better understanding back in my college days - I absolutely love puzzles, so I found the premise behind this series very enticing to read. From the start I liked Professor Sophie a lot. She is independent and happy with her job as a teacher. She is in a happy relationship with emergency pilot, Bruce Granville. While other cozy series tend to start the main character off as single, I was pleasantly surprised by Sophie's relationship status. Bruce and Sophie are perfect together and I'm looking forward to seeing their relationship blossom further in future books. I didn't solve the mystery until just before Sophie, and I liked watching Sophie treat the murder like a puzzle that needed to be solved. As with any first book in a new-to-me series, I liked getting to know the other people in Henley and I can't wait to read about them in the next book. Henley seems like a really fun, cozy town.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    "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 b "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. There were no sex scenes. Overall, I'm recommend this well-written, enjoyable novel. I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Rogan

    Finally, after the last several books I've read have been pretty much duds, I found a good one! Ada Madison has 2 other series: Miniature Mysteries (as Margaret Grace) about an amateur sleuth who does doll houses and other miniature crafts and the Periodic Table Mysteries (as Camille Minichino) about a retired physicist who helps solve crimes - she got to oxygen before changing to a short story format for fluorine. I have read both of those series and enjoyed them. This book is in a new series a Finally, after the last several books I've read have been pretty much duds, I found a good one! Ada Madison has 2 other series: Miniature Mysteries (as Margaret Grace) about an amateur sleuth who does doll houses and other miniature crafts and the Periodic Table Mysteries (as Camille Minichino) about a retired physicist who helps solve crimes - she got to oxygen before changing to a short story format for fluorine. I have read both of those series and enjoyed them. This book is in a new series about a math professor at a small college who gets involved with crime-solving. There is also a tiny bit about beading since her best friend owns a bead shop and some brain teaser/puzzles since she does this on the side. I really enjoyed the mystery (although I figured it out fairly early). The writing flows nicely and there is subtle humor. This main character is a little younger (40's) than in the other two series, so, hopefully, it will stay distinct from them. All of her books tell a good story and also give good and interesting info on the subject (the periodic table ones may be a little geeky, but that's a good thing because so am I!).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tyrannosaurus regina

    It always feels like damning with faint praise when I say I like a book more than I expected to, but...well, I liked this more than I expected to, especially after putting it down after the first couple chapters and picking it up again weeks later. The university environment felt inauthentic, more like the author was dropping the appropriate lingo rather than actually understanding academia and higher level mathematics, and that really turned me off in the beginning. But I liked that the police It always feels like damning with faint praise when I say I like a book more than I expected to, but...well, I liked this more than I expected to, especially after putting it down after the first couple chapters and picking it up again weeks later. The university environment felt inauthentic, more like the author was dropping the appropriate lingo rather than actually understanding academia and higher level mathematics, and that really turned me off in the beginning. But I liked that the police were competent, I liked that the protagonist was in a functional and believable relationship before the start of the story, and I liked that she felt kind of like a shitheel for manipulating her friends and withholding evidence from the police because she was trying to run her own investigation. It made sense for this one novel, because she was defending her friend and because it was said repeatedly that the crime was such a rare occurrence, but I'm not sure how it's going to spin into a series. I think I might leave this one at the one.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    The author writes a story easy to read with interesting locations. I enjoy academic settings and the mathematics/puzzles addition was fun. However, this book contains 2 elements which I despise in a story. This may contains spoilers so proceed with caution. I absolutely despise it when a suspect deliberately holds information from the police because they think by giving it, they will be incriminated all the more. And when an amateur sleuth keeps investigating on her own even when the police, and The author writes a story easy to read with interesting locations. I enjoy academic settings and the mathematics/puzzles addition was fun. However, this book contains 2 elements which I despise in a story. This may contains spoilers so proceed with caution. I absolutely despise it when a suspect deliberately holds information from the police because they think by giving it, they will be incriminated all the more. And when an amateur sleuth keeps investigating on her own even when the police, and her own good sense, tells her to stop. For this reason the heroine was getting on my nerves. She was told repeatedly to not investigate on her own, she agreed, yet kept at it. And some missing evidence that suddenly reappeared? I thought that was improbable. I wasn't all that impressed with the resolution either. I felt let down at the ending. I will try the next book in this series with the hope that, what I consider clumsy attempts, will be smoothed out for a completely enjoyable read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Julie P

    Dr. Sophie Knowles, mathematics professor and creator of puzzles, works in academia meaning she is exposed daily to the elitist attitude of certain faculty members. When an unlikeable chemistry professor is discovered murdered in his office, and scattered around his office is the draft thesis of one of Sophie's favorite grad students, Sophie goes into action. Treating the murder like one of the brain teasers that she loves so much, Sophie begins to ask questions from all whom she suspects - whic Dr. Sophie Knowles, mathematics professor and creator of puzzles, works in academia meaning she is exposed daily to the elitist attitude of certain faculty members. When an unlikeable chemistry professor is discovered murdered in his office, and scattered around his office is the draft thesis of one of Sophie's favorite grad students, Sophie goes into action. Treating the murder like one of the brain teasers that she loves so much, Sophie begins to ask questions from all whom she suspects - which turns out to be almost everyone! The Square Root of Murder is definitely an above average mystery. The plot plodded along in the beginning, but it finally found its hook. While I wasn't wild about this book, I'd be interested to read Sophie's future adventures.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    That I couldn't figure out who the killer was...up to the end, which is something I love in an author. The first book in this new series kept me guessing and with the vast number of possible suspects I didn't even come close to getting it right. Having the main character with the profession of math professor is a nice change, as is her already established relationship with her pilot boyfriend. It's also nice that for a change Sophie isn't a flighty twenty something stick but an bit older, highly That I couldn't figure out who the killer was...up to the end, which is something I love in an author. The first book in this new series kept me guessing and with the vast number of possible suspects I didn't even come close to getting it right. Having the main character with the profession of math professor is a nice change, as is her already established relationship with her pilot boyfriend. It's also nice that for a change Sophie isn't a flighty twenty something stick but an bit older, highly intelligent and very independent. Her friends are interesting and I'm curious as to what happens to her gaining her full professorship. My only complaint is that in the middle the pace slowed a bit while Sophie was trying to work her way through the suspects.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    I picked this up on a whim at Seattle's Mystery Book Store (you should go there). On the surface, it is a lot what I like - mysteries, math, puzzles, etc. I'm marking it down in rating for two reasons - the first is that I don't think it was terribly creative. So much of the setting, tone, plot just seemed derivative. The second is that some of the details about the college setting just really didn't ring true. (Here we have a detective, who uses a smart phone, and google, but also has her whimsi I picked this up on a whim at Seattle's Mystery Book Store (you should go there). On the surface, it is a lot what I like - mysteries, math, puzzles, etc. I'm marking it down in rating for two reasons - the first is that I don't think it was terribly creative. So much of the setting, tone, plot just seemed derivative. The second is that some of the details about the college setting just really didn't ring true. (Here we have a detective, who uses a smart phone, and google, but also has her whimsical side-kick wearing 'long flowing robes', and her student writing drafts on yellow legal pads. Really? But, and here is where I am a sucker, I find myself wishing the book hadn't ended, so I could keep reading it, and I'll probably pick up another one and see how it goes.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    The protagonist of this series is a math professor at a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts whose passion is helping math fearful students become comfortable with the subject. She has a side job writing puzzles and brain teasers for publication. She's an interesting and likable character, but interestingly enough the most interesting character in this book is the one who ends up dead. We never actually meet him, but a fellow professor who was disliked in life, he turns out to have been a The protagonist of this series is a math professor at a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts whose passion is helping math fearful students become comfortable with the subject. She has a side job writing puzzles and brain teasers for publication. She's an interesting and likable character, but interestingly enough the most interesting character in this book is the one who ends up dead. We never actually meet him, but a fellow professor who was disliked in life, he turns out to have been a person of many contrasts. This is a very light book - just what I seem to be able to handle right now, so I enjoyed it and would definitely read more by this author, a retired physicist.

  30. 5 out of 5

    VJ

    For a cozy mystery, this wasn't bad. I think the puzzle instances were somewhat forced and the bead store part was a diversion. The character somewhat interested me, although we really didn't get to know her or the supporting characters all that well. All in all, it wasn't a bad book. It took me a few tries to get all the way through it, although part of that may be the fact that I have been feeling rather restless lately. Nothing much holds my attention for more than a few minutes. I wouldn't be For a cozy mystery, this wasn't bad. I think the puzzle instances were somewhat forced and the bead store part was a diversion. The character somewhat interested me, although we really didn't get to know her or the supporting characters all that well. All in all, it wasn't a bad book. It took me a few tries to get all the way through it, although part of that may be the fact that I have been feeling rather restless lately. Nothing much holds my attention for more than a few minutes. I wouldn't be opposed to finding more in this series, but at this point, I'm not going to be seeking them out either. If they happen to show up on the library shelf, I will probably toss them in my bag.

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