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The Semantics of Murder Paperback – September 1, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Paperback, September 1, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The unsolved 1971 murder of UCLA philosophy professor Richard Montague is the inspiration for Campbell's uneven debut, set in 2001. American psychoanalyst Jay Hamilton has worked in England for two decades, pretty uneventfully, despite a professional secret; Hamilton uses his patients as inspiration for the bestselling fiction he authors under a pseudonym. His comfortable existence is put at risk by an inquiry from Dana Flynn, a woman researching his late brother, Robert, a controversial UCLA professor; Dana is naturally curious about the circumstances of Robert's murder 30 years earlier. Robert, a closet homosexual, was strangled in his home. Based on Jay's account of seeing two men drive away in his brother's car, the official theory was that they were responsible for the crime. Campbell writes well, and does a good job of portraying the complex relationship of the Hamilton brothers, but the surprise she springs on the reader about the murder will astonish few.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Campbell shows a light and conciliatory touch... She is excellent on the symptomatic one-upmanship of academia... she clearly has a talent for direct and uncompromising character portrayal. Irish Times Written in glistening prose... a major talent Irish Independent An enthralling and intelligent thriller swirling with dark, beguiling shadows, The Semantics of Murder establishes Aifric Campbell as a storyteller of really immense gifts. She combines a unique sensibility with a prose of shimmering beauty. This is gripping, haunting work -- Joseph O'Connor A tautly written thriller of ideas that asks awkward questions about the "talking cure" and its potential to blur fact with fiction... dark and damaged -- Adrian Turpin Financial Times A highly readable thriller... a page-turner with panache -- Araminta Wallace Irish Times Aifric is a master of metaphor, an expert at the extended simile. Her language is ideally suited to the character of a jaded cynic who is greatly bothered by the elements that have shaped his personality. Her depictions of the analytic sessions her protagonist conducts are painfully revealing; the jumble of emotions he expresses about himself and his relationship to others are even more so. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED I Love a Mystery - USA This is a surprising book that defies all expectations. The murder mystery is satisfying, with unexpected twists and turns, the characters are expertly crafted, and it is incredibly well written. It's definitely something that fans of literary fiction should pick up. S. Krishna's Book Blog USA --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846687330
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846687334
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,450,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As an au-pair living and studying Linguistics in Sweden, Aifric Campbell (AC) became intrigued by the life and death of an influential US logician who inspired new ways of looking at the true nature of language. His scientific career was and remains astounding. It was cut short by murder at the age of 41. His name is Richard Montague (RM). He also was a promiscuous gay with a preference for black lovers. Early one morning in 1971, he was found naked and dead in his bathroom by his housemate, who saw two or three black persons speed away in RM’s Bentley. These are the facts according to the LAPD at the time. RM’s murder remains unsolved today.
An hour on the internet probing RM and AC suffice to see that RM really lived, keen on pushing the boundaries of pure science, and yields lots more info: AC is the third person to write a book about Richard Montague’s double life, but she was not aware of the two earlier books. To illuminate him, AC went through some 40 cardboard boxes full of RM’s notes endowed to UCLA. She also interviewed LAPD detectives investigating ‘cold cases’, visited the place where he died, read old police press and records. The result? Not enough material for a biography. She wrote a novel instead.
The person propelling this novel onwards is “Jay”, the fictional, 18 years younger kid brother AC invented out of nowhere. He is a psycho analyst in London, the main subject and ‘raconteur’ of this rather disturbing novel full of resentment and jealousy. Is this book a homage to a flawed but brilliant academic? Is Jay’s account of his own life and his brother’s death truthful, reliable? That is for readers to find out.
What else? This is AC’s debut.
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Format: Paperback
Picked this book up over Thanksgiving and read it cover to cover. It was either the book or sports on TV. The book easily won. Couldn't wait to put the turkey down and get back to it. It's not a fast read, but it is one of the few intelligent fiction novels out there today - and its not totally fiction - which makes it even more intriguing and difficult to put down.

Don't wait for next year's Thanksgiving Day to buy the book - get it now and reaad a book you'll actually enjoy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel started off a little slow but picks up in the end and there is a psychologically disturbing ending. It is a fun read for a weekend. I got interested in this book from my interests in the person who's murder its plot is based on, the UCLA philosopher Richard Montague who was murdered in his home during the early seventies. To this day, his murder is still unsolved. This novel takes off on the psychological themes of familial disconnect and fraternal rivalry and weaves a somewhat interesting account of a murder and those lives intimately associated with it.
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