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The Oxford Murders

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  4,676 ratings  ·  536 reviews
Gödel's Theorem of Incompleteness is familiar territory to the young South American mathematician who arrives in Oxford. Murder, however, is not. Yet barely has he greeted his elderly landlady - and her rather luscious granddaughter - when he is bidding her a posthumous farewell. Mrs Eagleton is murdered in her wheelchair. The only clue to the crime is a cryptic symbol and ...more
Paperback, 197 pages
Published 2005 by Abacus (first published 2001)
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Average rating 3.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,676 ratings  ·  536 reviews

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Oct 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like math and mystery
This book combines logic, philosophy and criminal law. It is quite an interesting mystery with a twisty end. The author provided some clues, but even then I was shocked to read the solution. Also I liked the mathematical stuff, like Godel's Theorem, the Pythagorean sect and other. Though as a not so-much-experienced-in-math, I would have wanted some explanations at the end of the book, maybe some notes, made by the author. But I confess, it was interesting to search more info in the Net for furt ...more
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This novel has more red herrings than a communist fish market.

But that's OK because I like novels that throws you off and keeps you guessing. Even if some of the herrings are obvious, there are always a few that swim by when you are not expecting them. The Oxford Murders is a nifty mystery about two Oxford academics that are trying to solve a murder and if it seems a little...well...academic. it's because it is. Martinez mixes a nice share of mathematics, Wittgensteinian philosophy and even

I watched about one third of the film (starring Frodo Baggins and Winston Smith) and I found the story quite good and interesting enough to switch over to the book before being spoiled by moving pictures.

A series of murders in Oxford, seemingly based on a logical sequence of symbols with some Wittgenstein philosopy, Gödel incompleteness and Heisenberg uncertainty added to the mix.

What’s not to like when mathematics meets murder and logical reasoning solves mysteries? Well, finding the one single “
Sep 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a deceptively easy page-turner and more challenging than it first seems. The intriguing links between mathematics, magic and crime-solving make for a tongue-in-cheek take on the traditional cosy English murder mystery. What's more, the reader can enjoy the added bonus of painlessly absorbing some interesting philosophical concepts along the way.

'The mechanism for corroborating the truth that goes all the way back to Aristotle and
Paul Secor
Not much of a "mystery" - I had it pegged maybe 1/3 of the way through - except for the spin at the end. That would be ok if there were some positives offsetting it. Unfortunately, except for a few graceful passages of writing about Oxford (I've never been there, but what Mr. Martinez wrote felt real to me), there's not much I can say that's positive. The conversations about mathematics were boring and mostly beyond my understanding - not to mention false sounding (real mathematicians wouldn't h ...more
Jul 23, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I like watching Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis. (Okay, for Inspector Lewis it's because I like Hathaway, but still). I liked Numbers for a bit.

I didn't like this book.

Sometimes I don't mind when you can figure out the solution by page 30. The Blood Doctor is somewhat like that but it is still a good read because of the characters.

Not interesting characters here.

And boy, did I mind.

And the book is like Numbers but after the first season and a half, you
Gary Guinn
My actual rating for The Oxford Murders is probably about 3.5 stars because Guillermo Martinez is a good writer. But I would describe this book as a novel written by a mathematician for mathematicians. Almost all the characters, except for the detective, are either professional or amateur mathematicians--including the first victim. And a significant percentage of the 197 pages of the novel consist not of story, but of one mathematician talking to another mathematician about some other mathematician or ...more
First Sentence: Now that the years have passed and everything’s been forgotten, and now that I’ve received a terse e-mail from Scotland with the sad news of Seldom’s death, I feel I can break my silence (which he never asked for anyway) and tell the truth about events that reached the British papers in the summer of ’93 with macabre and sensationalist headlines, but to which Seldom and I always referred – perhaps due to the mathematical connotation – simply as the series, or the Oxford Series. ...more
Jun 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: detective
Murder by numbers, quite literally. Two mathematicians, one an ageing professor, the other an eager young student, set out to unravel a series of murders in and around the ancient University city of Oxford.

There are puzzles within puzzles throughout this book, which should keep most people guessing until the denouement, even those eminent mathematicians out there. I recently watched the film adaptation starring John Hurt and Frodo. A good job was done on said adaptation. Both book an
Jun 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: gone, take-a-chance
Very enjoyable. I especially liked the Argentine view of England. It would have been even better if the translator had written it with an accent. Perhaps the best would be an audio reading with an Argentinian accent. I tried to do it in my head but kept slipping back into rather banal english.
Mar 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kathleen
Recommended to Valerie by: Book Club
Rant, possibly with spoilers,

As a young girl, I read with my grandma all the Agatha Christie books, and I really enjoyed the ABC Murders, the idea of a logical series being used as a smokescreen was very alluring to me. I am irritated that this book, which takes nearly the same idea, with the same twist, does not in any way allude to or acknowledge, the brilliant Agatha Christie.

I am now going to reread the ABC Murders, perhaps the author paid such delicate homage to her,
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
This was an ok read but I don't think I'd pick up another Guillermo Martinez in the future. The plot was interesting enough but the characters were quite flat. One word of advice for those who haven't seen the film adaptation: don't watch it, it's one of the worst book adaptation I've watched!
Natalie (CuriousReader)
I liked the idea of a mystery set in Oxford, with mathematics as a central theme running through it. The story follows a young maths PhD student whose path crosses with a string of murders which he is trying to figure out, alongside his new English friend Seldom - another maths professional, and the police force in Oxford. The deaths almost appear not to be crimes (or have a criminal behind them) but with each dead body there is an encrypted message to go with it, to suggest a serial killer is o ...more
I did't understand the math stuff but I did know most of the names. The story was arresting and the ending a surprise.
Oct 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would not recommend this book to anyone seeking a traditional murder story. In my opinion, any given murder story should be similar to others like it, so readers know what to expect. Also, it should give the reader a chance to be ahead of the detective in solving the mystery, or at least be caught up with him. In this novel, the extensive mathematical logic and long paragraphs the author give us, makes it unable for anyone, except for logicians to follow. Even then, if one were to follow what ...more
G. Lawrence
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome. Loved it. It had the old-fashioned air of an Agatha Christie novel combined with the mystery of maths and murder. Half-guessed the twist at the end, but that didn't spoil it for me a jot. Marvellous book. Highly recommended
I found this short mystery fascinating due to its cerebral nature. Joining serious mathematics with murder made this novel unique in my experience.

When an Argentine math student at Oxford (presumedly based on the author's own experience) discovers the smothered body of his landlady, conventional wisdom points to a family member with the most prosaic of motives. However a famous logician, Arthur Seldom, and author of a book on the mathematics of serial killers, shares the appearance o
I enjoyed the main plot but there was too much extraneous maths for me. One for the Charity Shop!
Lorenzo Berardi
I would have never wondered that a movie from Hollywood could have been better than a novel by a writer from Argentina. Which is like saying that I prefer a McDonald's plastic-like burger to a succulent meaty asado. But, well, there's always a first time.

For the big screen version of "The Oxford Murders" is far from being brilliant, but still better than the original version of the story on print. I think this should tell you a lot regarding this novel. And when you do prefer the big
The year is 1993, and a young Argentine mathematician arrives in Oxford to continue his graduate studies. The Oxford Murders begins with so much promise - and yes, so much familiarity! The plane flies across the Atlantic and descends through cloud cover to emerge over the rolling green fields of England. 10 years after the narrator, I took that same plane, took the SAME BUS in fact from Heathrow Airport to the eternal city - the City of Dreaming Spires.

Martinez's descriptions of Oxford will ring a bel
Mar 26, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: crime enthusiast commuters
I have had to give this book three stars because, essentially, it was a really enjoyable read [as most crime novels of this kind are]. However, although its a classic example of a who-dunnit I felt hampered by the fact that it seemed so incredibly badly written and equally poorly edited. I am aware that it is a translation and perhaps this goes some way to excusing it. The fact that the writer is himself a mathmetician and not some kind of writer can barely be seen as an excuse, plently of good ...more
Guillermo, Guillermo, Guillermo. There is a long and illustrious history of fictional policemen running round Oxford after serial killers, and none of them sound like that.

Also I am 30 pages in and it is clearly your man the pathologist. Nobody can pinpoint time of death that accurately, while still at the crime scene, unless they're the one that did it. Just saying.

Now that I've finished it:

Let's face it. This is not a great crime novel. It falls into all the traps - De/>Now
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
On a summer's day in Oxford, a young Argentine mathematics student finds his landlady - an elderly woman who helped decipher the Enigma Code during World War II - murdered. Meanwhile, leading Oxford logician Arthur Seldom receives an anonymous note bearing a circle and the words, 'the first of the series. Murders begin to pile up - an old man on life-support is found dead with needle punctures in his throat, a percussionist at Blenheim Palace dies before the audience's very eyes - seemingly unco ...more
Andrew Paxman
Jun 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short, compelling thriller about a series of murders, or what appears to be a series and what appear to be murders, in early 1990s Oxford. What makes it unique is its narration by an Argentine graduate student – modelled on the author, a Buenos Aires mathematics professor – and its interweaving of meditations on mathematical principles, notably those concerning the variety of possible explanations for observed phenomena. This is much less pretentious than it sounds. Though a bit of a s ...more
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book that I liked but didn’t love. I think I would have liked it more had I understood the math a little better. For the most part, it was simple and didn’t affect the plot to any degree that made it unintelligible. But there were a few longer sections about mathmatical theory where my brain melted out of my ear and sat in a puddle on the floor, begging me to Stop With The Numbers. The writing was a little dry, but that sort of made sense since the main characters were mathematicians. It ...more
Excellent one of the best murder mysteries I've read.
Again I owe a sincere thank you to the person who recommended it though I can't remember who it was or whether the recommendation was due to the maths or the Oxford location.

It is always difficult to good the writing style in translation but it was clear and perfectly pitched to the style of the book. At times it seemed to touch on magical realism.
The math was an important element of the story but it didn't take over and the
Graham Crawford
Jun 11, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book annoyed me but it has many fans (at least in its original language) so maybe there was a problem with the translation. The English prose is flat to the point of banal and the characters are ciphers.

It annoyed me even more because it pretends to be a book about mathematics but it's really a book about (magical) misdirection. I was expecting the plot to mirror a mathematical theory. What I got was a few random, lazy, and poorly explained analogies very loosely based on the uncertainty p
Luke Padgett
A light quick read about mathematics and murder. Martinez, an Argentinian, is evidentally well known throughout his country as a top mystery writer and I have to admit he does tell a good story. He follows the model of mystery stories set up by the greats such as Christie and P.D. James. Let the reader follow the logic of the mystery to its conclusion and throw a wrinkle in at the end. Maybe its just translated writing, but I always prefer the sparseness of language. Whomever translated this boo ...more
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery readers not scared of a little math
Recommended to Judy by: Naomi Jensen
Shelves: my-2013-books
I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery that has two mathematicians as the main characters. As a mathematician, it just tickled that part of me, because I don't find a lot of math in novels. As another reader noted, it loses some of its credibility when one mathematician explains to the other something they both already should know, but in reality it is being elucidated for the reader. This usually works better when written in the third person for that reason. On the other hand, I know when this is ha ...more
Feb 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nancy
A young Argentinian math student gets drawn into a series of murders after his landlady is killed. I'm not sure I want to say more than that, since it will give too much away however, the inside flap of the book tell you everything that happens - except who the murderer is.

I'm not sure who recommended this one, but I couldn't put it down until I was done. It wasn't so much the events, really, although I enjoyed the plot. It was style and the fact that I really had no idea what would
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possible endings 1 28 Sep 12, 2009 04:30PM  

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Guillermo Martínez is an Argentine novelist and short story writer. He gained a PhD in mathematical logic at the University of Buenos Aires.

After his degree in Argentina, he worked for two years in a postdoctoral position at the Mathematical Institute, Oxford.

His most successful novel has been The Oxford Murders, written in 2003. In the same year, he was awarded the Planeta Prize for