Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Square Root of Murder (Professor Sophie Knowles)
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Customer Reviews

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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.

This is my first experience with this author but will be working some of her other works into my reading schedule. I also will be anxiously awaiting the next edition to the Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries. They are off to a marvelous start.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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on July 7, 2011
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 27, 2014
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. Uh huh)

Worst of all, there were major logic fails that are unforgivable in a mystery. It's difficult to talk about them without including spoilers. A minor non-spoiler example: I don't think every character needs to behave in a perfectly logical way- people don't. But if you were very worried about something that could be resolved by spending a couple of dollars on reverse look up, wouldn't you do it? (Not to mention possibly solving a murder while you're at it)

This wasn't the worst mystery I've ever read by any means and I don't want to go so far as to say I didn't like it at all. I did finish it and the author included a few very simple puzzles at the end. Basically, just another book in crying need of a strong editor.

Normally I'm obsessive about reading every book in a series. If it were a freebie, I might pick up a later book to see if they get any better, but other than that I have no interest in pursuing.
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on November 5, 2011
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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on September 2, 2011
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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on July 5, 2011
Great new characters from Camille Minichino writing as Ada Madison. Bad behavior from dysfunctional university administrations, faculties, students and their families will give this thoughtful puzzle-solving math professor many opportunities for sleuthing adventures. Hurry up with the next one!
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on July 16, 2013
It was quite enjoyable having a "nerd"-such as a math professor- for a main character, who is not your usual conundrum amateur sleuth- police aren't knocking on her door begging for help as in other stories- just casually leave things about or hint at them. She also just stumbles along as any curious person would when a crime involves a friend or colleague. The Square Root of Murder is very well written and keeps you guessing til the very end. The analogies used are a refreshing change from the norm. The story is enthralling and keeps you on your toes. Kudos to Ada Madison! I read this book through in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it!
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on July 9, 2011
At Henley College in Massachusetts, Professor Sophie Knowles is a student favorite as she makes math easy to understand. She also, under a pseudonym, publishes puzzles and brain teasers in various publications. In her microscopic spare time, she does craftwork in the form of beading at her friend Ariana's store. The one description she never thought would apply to her is amateur sleuth, but that is what happens when the college's most unpopular professor, who is disliked by students and teachers alike, is murdered.

The police are looking at Sophie's assistant Rachel as their prime suspect. Keith Appleton was giving Rachel a hard time with her thesis and she was heard saying terrible things about him. The cops find a report on yellow paper that Rachel wrote all marked in red saying sarcastic things about her research. Sophie believes Rachel is innocent so she sets out to prove her assertion. However, she soon realizes that Rachel and three other students lied about what they knew about the crime scene. Sophie keeps digging, but almost digs her owngrave.

Although an amateur sleuth placing herself in peril being a sub-genre recurring scenario, and a puzzle solver lead has been done by Parnell Hall (see The Puzzle Lady series); Ada Madison provides a fresh entertaining whodunit due to the college setting and the fortyish mathematician. Sophie is an intelligent person who works her investigation using the same skills she applies to math problems and puzzle making. The heroine lives a full life with her significant other, has good friends and a job she loves; and though her days are jammed, she makes time to search for the killer in this enjoyable new academic mystery series.

Harriet Klausner
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on October 3, 2011
This is the first in a new series, but the author (Ada Madison) has written a number of previous books as Camille Minichino. She is probably my favorite mystery author, but since her mysteries under her own name are rather hard to get hold of, this new cozy moved easily to the top of my must-read list. I was not disappointed; it is excellent, every bit as good as her previous series. One gets a good feel for life in a New England town, campus life, and the challenges of balancing work with off-campus friends and family. As others have said, the setting is an academic one, but Professor Sophie Knowles has other dimensions to her life too, and she is capable of much warmth and human understanding. She also knows herself very well. She can admit her little shortcomings, such as not always being perfectly organized or doing everything in its proper order (as one might expect a mathematician to do). There are many humorous moments, and the story moves along quickly. I also appreciated the quick resolution near the end; this author doesn't add useless information; the book resolves well and leaves us wanting more. Well-done and beautifully written! I can't wait for the next one.
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on December 7, 2011
Good debut novel in a new cozy mystery series: Professor Sophie Knowles Mystery. The characters are well defined and fun. Obviously there are several mentions of math and statistics within the story. A chemistry professor is murdered in his office and Sophie is trying to discover the killer. Fun Read!!
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