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THE OXFORD MURDERS

By Guillermo Martinez

Penguin Books, 2006 ($13.00)
First Published in U. S. by MacAdam/Cage Publishing, 2005
ISBN:0-14-303796-X

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

An Argentinean graduate student (whose name seems not to be mentioned) is just getting settled in at Oxford University when he discovers the body of his landlady, an elderly war hero who apparently died of natural causes.He shares the discovery with a visitor who turns out to be Arthur Seldom, a renowned mathematician and one of his heroes.Seldom has evidence that suggests the death was not accidental: he had received a cryptic note with a strange symbol directing him to be at the house at that exact time.Ominously, the note said "The first of the series." The police, however, downplay the letter, but when more notes arrive and more suspicious deaths occur they begin to take the scholarly duo more seriously.

The student attempts to comfort Mrs. Eagleton's granddaughter Beth, an enigmatic young woman who's hiding a few secrets.He also gets involved with a lady who becomes his partner in tennis and then in some more adult games.Both women are involved, more or less, in the plot.

This is not an easy read.It took me a few tries to get past the first chapter, not being much of a mathematician.The New York Times calls it "a scholarly whodunit," and it may be too esoteric for many readers.It is the first of Martinez' books to be translated into English, and has apparently won many awards.If you enjoy having to use the little gray cells to follow the plot, this is the book for you.I did enjoy the description of Oxford and the insights into university life.

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