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The Square Root of Murder (Professor Sophie Knowles) Mass Market Paperback – July 5, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Sophie Knowles Series

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ada Madison is the pen name of Camille Minichino. Camille is a retired physicist and math teacher and is the author of the Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries, as well as short stories and articles. She's also Margaret Grace, the author of the Miniature Mysteries.
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Product Details

  • Series: Professor Sophie Knowles (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425242196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425242193
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lori Caswell/Dollycas VINE VOICE on July 5, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Ada Madison is Camille Minichino's third swing at an author title -- and the result is a hit! The Square Root of Murder is her best book yet, no matter how the author bills herself.

Perhaps its her familiarity with the world of academia and the suburban Boston setting or her experience developing cozy mysteries that intrigue, amuse and delight, but "Square Root" provides a great way to begin sampling this author or renewing a previous acquaintance.

The plot is well-covered in previous reviews. The characters are well-developed and interesting, covering the gamut of personality types to be expected at a small New England college facing change. To me, the college itself is the most intriguing character in the book and I look forward to renewing my acquaintance in what I hope will be a soon-to-follow second installment in this series.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Have you ever gone through the books on your kindle and found some that you had no memory of buying? This was one for me. Amazon shows that I purchased it three years ago and I'm guessing that it was either free or on sale at the time. The title was interesting so I started reading it with no idea what it was.

I can understand why I would have picked this book. It has elements that I enjoy enormously- a cozy mystery, intelligent, mature protagonist, New England college setting. Plus the heroine is a math and puzzle freak like me. I should have loved it but... not so much.

There were a number of things throughout the book that I found very irritating. All of the characters seemed flat, almost caricatures. The prose was frequently awkward and situations unrealistic (You drop by a friend's store and then, without explanation, suddenly start cleaning it like Merry Maids?) Some short passages that are good examples of prose/dialogue problems:

I called my boyfriend and invited him on a date. "Unless you're completely exhausted," I added. He flexed his muscles. "Not me," he said. "And anyway, I'm moving in until this situation is resolved, remember?" I took that as a date. (He flexed his muscles on the phone?)
And
"I hoped you'd see it that way."
"That doesn't mean I don't agree with her."
Two negative words, like multiplying two negative numbers, gave a positive. Too bad. I'd counted on Bruce's support as I continued to work out the scenario for xxxx's murder. (OK, we get it. You're a math geek)

And
"I mentally rolled up the imaginary sleeves of my sleeveless knit top. Not a problem; I'd taught a whole course in imaginary numbers last year." (imaginary sleeves/imaginary numbers.
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It's a cozy mystery and this means atmosphere, cleverness, and no more than a modicum of violence. It was a pleasure to read the incidental mentions of things mathematical. There was no meaningless and artificial juxtaposition of terminology. Where mathematics is mentioned, the lingo is accurate. Told in the first person, the narrator is self-effacing, leaving it to us to judge whether she is clever or not. She seems to think that she muddles through to the solution, but then, even Sherlock Holmes used to get upset with himself having missed what he thought should have been obvious. (I read the book on Amazon Kindle.)
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The lead character is a woman with a doctorate in mathematics, creating a setting that is unusual for academic mysteries, which tend to be about English departments (as that usually is the author's field). There is a wonderfully drawn pain-in-the-ear administrator that anyone with academic experience will recognize. Readers also will learn some things about medevac helicopters; I always appreciate mysteries that teach while they entertain. I want to meet the lead character again and so have ordered the next book (not yet out). I will willingly overlook the unlikelihood that a small college such as the one at which Prof. Knowles teaches is the site of multiple murders, a necessary device to continue the series.
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