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Murder at the Margin (A Henry Spearman Mystery) Paperback – July 12, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0691000985 ISBN-10: 0691000980 Edition: With a New foreword by Herbert Stein and a new afterword by the author

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Product Details

  • Series: A Henry Spearman Mystery
  • 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: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Donald J. Boudreaux on July 16, 1999
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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
The premise that an economist is capable of solving a murder mystery by using economic analysis appears at first glance to be absurd. However, this story is one where that concept is made thoroughly believable. The hero, modeled after economist Milton Friedman, analyzes all aspects of behavior in terms of maximum return on expenditure. And when people appear to be violating that principle, he is led down a dangerous path that allows him to find the killer(s).
Written by two economists, this book can also be used as a supplemental text in introductory economics. It is a refreshing way to study economics and mathematics without appearing to do so.

Published in Journal of Recreational Mathematics, reprinted with permission.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ken Jennings on January 16, 2005
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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Zagnorch on August 2, 2001
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Richard A Ambrose on July 15, 2000
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
Henry Spearman,an Economics professor at Harvard university,is on a holiday at St. John.His holiday is spoiled by a murder of an army general at the hotel at which he is staying. The professor,who tends to explain everything with economic theories, is determined to find the murderer-using economic theories of course. A change of events occur,and a person drowns.Two days later a judge is murdered. The local police associate these activities with black racialist groups. They even arrest two suspects. But as it is they turn out to be wrong. the prof. finds out otherwise. This book is a slow-paced mystery and you might find it interesting so take a look.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Daniel E. Westover on March 26, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A great book for teachers of economics . . . a murder is solved because the murderer fails to realize that the laws of economics point the invisible hand of suspicion squarely at him. An amusing, painless way to learn some basic economics, and a decent mystery at the same time.
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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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