Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Oxford Murders

I am not much of a crime novel person, though I've read some Agatha Christie in my time, but what I've read about this novel intrigued me. There was this crime novel that had something to do with mathematics. Mathematics?! This was something to raise one's eyebrows.
It is a common knowledge that the most hated school subject of all times is mathematics. People dread it, want nothing to do with it, scare their preschool children with stories about how difficult and beyond understanding it is for ordinary humans. In my experience, hatred of mathematics is a universal thing that goes through people and nations. The common misconception lead to prejudice, not only about the science itself (OK, we can discuss here how mathematics is not even a science, but let's leave that for some other post), but about scientists that practice it as well. Mathematicians are widely considered as freaks of nature, unpopular and antisocial people living within their own twisted minds.
It is no wonder I was intrigued to read about a novel, translated in my country (meaning that it must be fairly popular somewhere else), with a plot that included something cool like a mystery with something extremely uncool like maths and mathematicians. The intricacy was even greater when one considers my own career choice.
The book is actually not bad for a crime novel (no offence here, I am a fantasy fan): it's light, clever and intriguing. Lots of twists, turns and one very unexpected ending. It was an enjoyable experience for me as, I presume, it has been for many other readers. What makes this book truly great in my eyes is that it managed to make mathematics sound cool. Mathematicians too.
You might have suspected: the writer IS a mathematician!