A Function of Murder


Reviewed by Cheryl Green

Ever since I was little, I have always loved books that provide floor plans, charts or maps. When I find a book with one of these extra special features, I know I am in for a great read. A Function of Murder is one of those books, it came with a map of Henley College.

It is graduation time at Henley College and Professor Knowles is bored to tears listening to the keynote speech given by Mayor Edward P. Graves. The original speaker bowed out due to a medical problem. Sophie Knowles has taken to texting her boyfriend Bruce Granville, a medevac pilot and her co-worker, to keep busy during the never ending speech.

The day is filled with other celebrations. There was a gathering, at the Math and Science Dept. building, for a breaking of bread and after to hand out gifts to the 25 Math and Science majors. Each received a very nice letter opener with the college logo on it. A blow up between students caused this party to break up early. Later that night there was a dinner for some of the students and faculty. People were very opinionated when it came to the Mayor and his positon of not supporting the funding of charter schools.

Finally, Sophie is able to meet up with Bruce, they get some ice cream and stroll across the campus, ending up at the fountain. They sit and compare notes on how the day went. As they were leaving they hear someone cry “help me”. A man comes into view and staggers into the fountain face first. Bruce pulls him out and Sophie wonders why he didn’t put the man on his back. That is hard to do with a blade in your back. The man turns out to be the Mayor!

Things to ponder: Why did the Mayor call out to Sophie? Why was he spending so much time at Zeeman Academy, one of the charter school? Will Sophie be able to add up the clues and find out whodunit?

This is a very fast read. It’s a real pager turner and the characters kept me reading to find out what was going to happen to them. I am a big fan of Camille Minichino and her Periodic Table Mystery series. I also enjoy the Margaret Grace series with miniatures. So finding yet another pen name for Camille Minichino is like getting an extra birthday. If you like your mysteries with an academic flavor, then A Function of Murder is the book for you.

Reviewed by Lori C. (dollycas)

Math Professor Sophie Knowles is looking forward to some time off as this year’s class graduates, but things do not go as planned. The graduates are complaining about the mayor who gave the commencement address, one student is upset about her grade and vents on social media, and just when she is about to escape all of the drama to take a stroll with her helicopter pilot boyfriend things go horribly wrong. They are interrupted by the mayor himself as he falls into the fountain with a knife in his back. Sophie is shocked to find out the mayor was seeking her out for help before he was killed. Solving this murder in’t going to be easy but Sophie is ready to show her work as she tries delve into all the scandal and corruption that seems to connect to the mayor and find out how she fits into this criminal equation.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Sophie is such a fun protagonist. She really doesn’t want to get all wrapped up in a murder investigation but she just can’t help herself. Her boyfriend does his best to keep her safe but they can’t be together 24/7. Thankfully she has a great relationship with Detective Virgil Mitchell. The killer really surprised me. I figured it out at the same time Sophie did. It was a puzzler with quite a suspenseful ending.

The subplot of the student that is unhappy with her grades was wonderful. I am sure teachers near and far deal with this problem. With social media the student can take their issue to the masses making resolution difficult especially when “friends” take the problem to a whole new level.

Ada Madison has written three marvelous main characters, surrounded them with a group of very interesting individuals in a setting ripe for mystery. Add it all together and A Function of Murder equals an absolutely impressive whodunit.

Reviewed by Jay Strafford

Unlike math, life never guarantees a logical answer. But that doesn't stop Professor Sophie Knowles of Henley College from trying to find one.

In "A Function of Murder" (276 pages, Berkley Prime Crime, $7.99), Ada Madison's third novel featuring Sophie, the popular math teacher faces numerous problems, chiefly the stabbing death of Edward Graves, the mayor of Henley, Mass. But that's not all: One of Sophie's students is battling with her over a disputed exam answer.

As Sophie investigates the murder, she learns that the mayor -- who died not long after giving Henley's commencement address -- was keenly interested in the goings-on at one of Henley's charter schools and the community's waste-collection contract, and that he had left resentment in his wake. But did his death result from his official life, his personal life or something else?

Madison, as she did in this book's two predecessors, fashions an intelligent puzzle for the reader and offers an intimate look at the winding corridors of academia and municipal government. Give her high marks for another winning whodunit.

Reviewed by Min Jung

At Henley College, Dr. Sophie Knowles enjoys teaching and has a knack for making mathematics coming alive for her students. Although attending commencement isn't her favourite use of time, she does enjoy sending her students onto the next phase of their lives, be it graduate school or their dream job. Seeing the joy on their faces as they receive their diplomas balances out the tedium of sitting through the commencement speeches, and Sophie is particularly happy to see these commencement ceremonies end since the originally scheduled guest speaker had to cancel at the last minute and the faculty had a contentious vote about who should fill in.

Sophie didn't vote for the mayor to speak (she wanted someone less political and more academic) and she's surprised when he catches her eye as he leaves the stage and appears to say "see you soon" to her. Not knowing of an impending meeting with the mayor, she's puzzled, but brushes it off until later that night when the mayor lumbers toward her and her boyfriend, Bruce. He's clearly injured, and Bruce, a medevac helicopter pilot tries to assist him. However, the mayor dies later that night, and his last words are a plea to Sophie.

Sophie and Bruce's friend Virgil happens to be on the Henley police force, and he keeps them informed as to how the investigation into the mayor's murder is going. But, of course, there seem to be plenty of suspects to go around. Was the murder politically motivated, as his campaign was in full swing? Or did it have to do with the controversial charter school system? It's also discovered that the mayor could have been engaging in at least one extra-martial affair, and the suspect pool widens considerably when this information comes to light.

This cosy was enjoyable from the first page to the last sentence. Ada Madison has a way of captivating readers and drawing them in by setting scenes and making them feel like more than just bystanders in her book. Sophie is a unique character in that she's an intellectual but is surrounded by students, so she makes a concerted effort to be up-to-date on what her students are up to and what keeps them interested. She also juggles her time and unconventional schedule with her boyfriend's equally unconventional schedule, but makes it all seem easy, as well as working in interesting and historical math facts and puzzles.

The sub-plot in this book, THE FUNCTION OF MURDER, was nearly as interesting as the mayor's murder. A student was upset about her grade and started a social media campaign against Sophie in an effort to get her grade changed. This battle really heats up, culminating with an act of violence that requires police intervention, which shows Sophie's vulnerability. Another subplot that highlighted Sophie's humanity was how concerned she was for one of her star students (Kira) who volunteered for the mayor's campaign and may have been the subject of the mayor's affections. Overall, THE FUNCTION OF MURDERS is so riveting and compelling that I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in this series!