The Square Root of Murder (Sophie Knowles - Book 1) by Ava Madison
Publication Date: July 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 304pp
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Ava Madison (Camille Minichino) on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter
Sophie's Puzzle Blog
Excerpt from The Square Root of Murder
Dr. Sophie Knowles teaches math at Henley College in Massachusetts. Her students adore her because she always finds a way to make the most intimidating math seem fun. But lately, everyone's biggest problem isn't math - it's murder...
Between teaching, publishing puzzles and brainteasers, and beading at the local bead shop, A Hill of Beads, Sophie has a full schedule. Finding a chance to unwind isn't always in the equation. She still manages to make time to celebrate famous scholars of the past with her students. But their latest party makes one of their own a thing of the past...
Dr. Keith Appleton was the most disliked professor on campus, but it was Sophie's assistant, Rachel, who had a real problem with him - he refused to recommend her to a medical school. Sophie is confident that there's a calculating murderer among them, and equally confident it's not Rachel. The only possible answer is for Sophie to eliminate the lowest common denominator from campus herself.
A new cozy mystery series has arrived! Author Ada Madison aka. Camille Minichino's new series about math professor Sophie Knowles will have cozy fans trying to puzzle out the clues and brainteasers that lead to a killer. Madison uses her experience as a physicist and teacher to bring readers a smart, intelligent whodunit. The Square Root of Murder is first book in the Sophie Knowles mystery series and sets the stage at Henley College in Massachusetts. A great read for a lazy afternoon.
Dr. Sophie Knowles is math professor, dreams up puzzles and brainteasers, and is fond of beading at a local shop. But she still finds time for her students. Sophie has a knack for making even the hardest math problems fun to solve. Students love her and she even makes time to celebrate famous scholars with them. It's a tradition at Benjamin Franklin Hall, but when the most hated teacher on campus ends up dead in his office, the party is over. Keith Appleton certainly didn't make any friends when he refuses to give a medical school recommendation to Sophie's assistant Rachel. Rachel is the prime suspect in the case since she was overhead saying some pretty damaging things about the Professor but she's not the only one with a motive and Sophie is on the case.
Ada Madison sets the foundation for a great new cozy series with The Square Root of Murder. This is a mystery for the math lovers out there. Since the author has a PhD in psychics the story comes across as authentic and credible. The puzzles and brainteasers at the end of the book are also a nice touch. I thought Madison chose an interesting setting for her book as well. A small-town college campus in New England is just the right place to introduce readers to Dr. Sophie Knowles. Madison does a wonderful job of making the campus come to life and letting the readers start to learn about the place and the people. One thing that can make or break a good cozy is interesting and exciting characters and I think Madison is right on track with this one.
Sophie is a fortyish math professor. She is extremely well liked by her students and she has a very creative turn of mind. She is very bookish, yet she doesn't come across as stuffy or uptight. The author does a good job of showing a lighter side to Sophie as well as a professional side. I liked Sophie a lot. She has spunk and as mathematician she is a very analytical thinker. What better kind of person to be thinking about clues and figuring out a murder? Some who sits around and thinks about how to solve puzzles and brainteasers, makes a great amateur sleuth. I think readers will like Sophie and identify with her.
Usually in the first book in the series the author spends a lot of the time just setting the reader up for what's to come next. I think Madison gave enough details to get readers interested, but she didn't go overboard on the backstory of the characters or the school. It's a good balance. It leaves a lot of information to be discovered in further additions to the series. The mystery aspect of the story is well thought out and has quite a few twists and turns. The suspect list boils down a select few who were leaving out some details about the crime scene, including Sophie's assistant Rachel. I think Madison gave the reader a lot to think about in this one. Is not getting a recommendation a real motive for murder? I think readers will agree that there are some people out there that have killed for less. The plot is plausible, it seems like it could really happen in real life and I think readers will like that.
I recommend this one to all of my cozy readers out there. It's a fast paced read that readers can finish in a couple of sittings. Math puzzle and brainteaser fans will like this one as well. The plot is engaging and full of surprises and I loved the college setting. That was a refreshing change. The characters are interesting and I think there is a lot of potential for the series.
The Square Root of Murder is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Ada Madison aka. Camille Minichino received her Ph.D. in physics from Fordham University, New York City. She is currently on the faculty of Golden Gate University, San Francisco and on the staff of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Camille is on the boards of the California Writers Club and NorCal Sisters in Crime. She's a member of NorCal Mystery Writers of America and SF Romance Writers of America.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Square Root of Murder for one lucky winner here at Debbie's Book Bag!
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~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST July 22nd.
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