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Murder at the Margin (A Henry Spearman Mystery) With a New foreword by Herbert Stein and a new afterword by the author Edition

3.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691000985
ISBN-10: 0691000980
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harvard economist Henry Spearman finds his Caribbean vacation interrupted by murder in this 1978 mystery novel.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Writing pseudonymously, [William Breit and Kenneth Elzinga] have created Henry Spearman, a Harvard economist (actually a "Chicago' economist affiliated with Harvard), who utilizes the economic way of thinking literally to figure out "whodunit.' If there is a more painless way to learn economic principles, scientists must have recently discovered how to implant them in ice cream."--John R. Haring, Jr., Wall Street Journal



"This is a tight little mystery that should hold the interest of any student who enjoys detective stories. At the same time, it contains some basic economic lessons, presented in a way that the first-year student will have no difficulty understanding. . . . Its style is crisp and entertaining, and its cast of characters will delight any mystery lover. . . . What gives Murder at the Margin its sparkle are the shrewd observations about academic life and the authors' ability to transform statements of economic law into deft character analysis."--Sarah Gallagher and George Dawson, Journal of Economic Education

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; With a New foreword by Herbert Stein and a new afterword by the author edition (July 12, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691000980
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691000985
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I know of no more enjoyable way of learning sound economics than by reading Marshall Jevons's murder mysteries. Jevons's deep understanding of economics is evident throughout, and his ability to weave economics into engaging plots is stunning. Read these books and enjoy!
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Format: Paperback
I read this book as a intersemester assignment for my AP Economics class. Interesting to say the least, it went well with my microeconomics intuition. Nice interesting story, although I already suspected who was the murderer way before our protagonist Henry Spearman mentions.

The interesting twist is in the end when I realized there was a BIGGER picture I didn't suspect. Overall, its a great murder mystery that takes economics to a whole new level.

The fusion of economics and criminology is just impressive in this witty satiric tale although there are high traces of clique stereotypes from the era the book was probably written (racial tensions) the book operates solely on economic reasoning. For those Sherlock Holmes out there looking for a good "utility," of their time this book will be worth your opportunity cost. I managed to stay awake to read the whole book through -- something meritable since I usually fall asleep reading my economics textbook.

If you want to enjoy economics fused with a Sherlock Holmes character, definitely check this book out. I highly recommend it especially for Microeconomics students.
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Format: Paperback
This book was required reading as part of my Microeconomics course. Although it's not quite on the level of Agatha Christie or Ellery Queen- the plot and story is relatively simple and easy to follow- it does show how one can see the basic laws of economics at work in just about every facet of day-to-day life.
Using opportunity cost, the laws of supply & demand, interdependent utility functions, and even the prisoner's dilemma to get to the bottom of the case, Harvard economics professor Henry Spearman tracks down the killer/killers of two high-society tourists at the Cinnamon Bay resort on the Caribbean island of St. John.
Interestingly enough, the foreword & afterword of the book both go into the economic possibilities of writing and publishing a mystery novel featuring an economist as the protagonist! Apparently, the possibilities looked good, since there's two follow-up Henry Spearman mystery novels out there, both of which I'm planning to take a look at once I get some free time in. Of course, I'll have to calculate the opportunity costs of other forms of recreation, the utility I receive from reading the other novels, etc. I have a feeling I'll receive a handsome profit out of the deal...
All told, "Murder at the Margin", if not exactly a great murder mystery, is a fairly interesting primer on the practical uses of economics, and makes for surprisingly quick reading!
'Late
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Format: Paperback
This is a good mystery with a very creative plot. In addition, the characters are intriguing and fun to read about. There are great subtle touches, such as the way one hotel guest examines his bacon. (Yes, I know that sounds strange, but if you read the book you will understand)
It was the authors first effort, and being such it is not quite as good as the following two books, which I would rate at 4 1/2 and 5 stars. Still, it is a very good read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an economist who loves detective stories and mysteries, I ought to be the perfect audience. There are better books out there that mix economics with fictional storytelling, however, such as Russ Roberts' The Invisible Heart. There are also better mysteries out there.

If you're looking for a quick read and really love economics, this may be worth a try. Otherwise, I wouldn't recommend it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I started this book because of its setting. St. John USVI is one of my favorite places to visit, and I couldn't resist a mystery in that island. I was not disappointed on the descriptions of St. John and the intriguing mystery. Bringing in economic theories to solve the mystery was clever and brilliant. My only fault with Breit and Elzinga (Marshall Jevons) is that they price their books too high for me to buy. Is this their economic theory at work? Enjoyed the book, highly recommend it, but it would be nice if they lowered their prices.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This quick easy to read mystery is ideal for someone who wants a quick and painless introduction to economic principles. It is easy to see why high school students in an advanced placement class in economics would benefit from it.The Afterword which explains how and why the authors came to write the mystery is probably as interesting as the book.

As a character, Henry Spearman needs a bit of fleshing out. His attributes are explained rather than shown. He is more an avatar guide to economic principle rather than a flesh and blood fictional character. Pidge, also, is a bit one demential as the "sidekick." I am enough interested in the character and the device to plan to read other books in the series.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was really a disappointment. The writing is clunky and amateurish, and the propagandizing tiresome. I gave up after two or three chapters. (The first chapter, the Kindle sample, was not representative.)
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