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The Square Root of Murder (Sophie Knowles, #1)
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The Square Root of Murder (Sophie Knowles #1)

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  808 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
Dr. Sophie Knowles teaches math at Henley College in Massachusetts, but when a colleague turns up dead, it's up to her to find the killer before someone else gets subtracted.
Mass Market Paperback, 292 pages
Published July 5th 2011 by Berkley
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Dec 25, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Laura by: Stop You're Killing Me
The only reason I finished this book was to eke out as many more books I could this year to get the tiniest bit closer to my 2011 reading challenge (which I have absolutely no chance of actually meeting). This book makes my boycott list, since it's labeled as a "Sophie Knowles Mystery #1" so Madison is obviously going to churn out at least a few more of these stupid books. And I, for one, won't waste any more of my time.

Not only is this not a good book, but I'd go so far to say that this is a b
Mary Ronan Drew
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Mysteries with amateur detectives who are mathemeticians or scientists or that feature math and science have a particular pull for me. As the years have gone by I've become more interested in, for example, algebra, and do quadratic equations for fun - they are so much more relaxing than reading serious literature because they have a definitive answer with little ambiguity. The same goes with mysteries of course and this first in a series about college math teacher Sophie Knowles is a treat. A se ...more
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Series: 1st in Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries
Main Character: Math Professor Sophie Knowles who creates puzzles for publication in her spare time
Setting: Modern day, Henley Massachusetts
Obtained Through: Publisher for an honest review.

Dr. Keith Appleton, a fellow professor, is widely disliked. He is caustic, contentious, and mean spirited. So it doesn't surprise Sophie when her assistant Rachel shares that Dr. Appleton is being difficult about her thesis for him. When Dr. Appleton is found po
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cozy-mysteries, 2012
The author writes a story easy to read with interesting locations. I enjoy academic settings and the mathematics/puzzles addition was fun. However, this book contains 2 elements which I despise in a story. This may contains spoilers so proceed with caution.

I absolutely despise it when a suspect deliberately holds information from the police because they think by giving it, they will be incriminated all the more. And when an amateur sleuth keeps investigating on her own even when the police, and
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a fun new series by a favorite author (Camilla Minichino). The main character is Dr. Sophie Knowles, a professor of mathematics at a small New England college. When a colleague is killed, Sophie starts trying to solve the puzzle of who killed him, and why. Since one of her passions is puzzles, solving them as well as designing them, she thinks she is well suited to this role of sleuth. Her current boyfriend and his best friend, a cop, try and convince her to stay out of investigation bu ...more
Jill Heather
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
I guess it's readable if you're in desperate need of a cozy mystery. The narrator doesn't appear to be human (I know mathematicians, and they are human), the writing is heavy on the boring description, and the town/college -- Healey? -- feels like someone who vaguely remembers school but has watched movies set in fictional liberal arts colleges decided to create a small town with a college but no crime, no town vs gown problem, only one graduate student (who, though at the thesis writing stage, ...more
Jul 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Turns out Ada Madison is another name for Camille Minichino. I really enjoyed her Miniatures series so I was looking forward to this. I enjoy puzzles (Sudoko, crosswords, etc.) so a book about a professor who does this kind of thing seemed like a good bet. I do like Sophie and her boyfriend but the whole thing was just a little ... not sure how to put it... dry? It was one that I could read and put down and then start reading again later without being driven to finish it all at one sitting. Not ...more
Janet Clark
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My kind of novel. An intelligent female protagonist with a highly developed sense of humor. You'll love the brainteasers and puzzles. Excellent airplane book.
(That's a terrible pun in the description and this is coming from a person who keeps making terrible puns herself.)

I read this book for May's Pick-For-Me because I have all these cozies on my tbr and I never actuall read them. It wasn't too shabby! Well done, Ren, your choices are getting better! (Though I should add that while it wasn't too shabby, it also wasn't too good. I was mostly entertained by all the wtf moments that were flung at me. It was really quite hilarious.)

There's not much to s
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I mostly enjoyed this story. The few things I didn't like were that the main character was constantly saying how bad she felt for doing certain things, but went on doing them anyway. I also felt like something else in the story wasn't quite right. I'm not sure how to word it without giving away the whole story so I won't.
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Math professor Sophie Knowles is teaching summer school on the small campus of Henley College in Massachusetts. While on the job, Sophie uses math games and activities to help students better understand math. A true devotee of mathematics, Sophie’s idea of relaxing is devising puzzles and brainteasers for publication.

Sophie’s assistant Rachel is trying to get accepted to medical school, but doesn’t stand a chance without a recommendation from her advisor. Unfortunately, Rachel’s advisor is the u
Nov 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: crimes
I wanted to like this more. It's probably 2.5 stars and I went with the 3 for wishful thinking reasons. I thought the particular career choice for the hero was a nice break from crafting crafting cooking crafting crafting, which make up the staple choices for this genre. I liked that even though this was the first book her partner was already established so I didn't have to slug through a tedious get-together plotline. I liked the layers the author gave to the murder victim. I liked that for a r ...more
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 fo
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, cozies
Math scares a lot of people. Mathematics professor Dr. Sophie Knowles, protagonist of this new mystery series, reminds me of my very first high school math teacher (whose name, sadly, I forget) who made algebra and geometry fun for me. Sophie teaches math at Henley College in the fictional town of Henley, MA, and tries very hard to make it enjoyable.

Her assistant, Rachel Wheeler, who is hoping to get into medical school, is a student who has become a friend. But Rachel needs to pass chemistry fi
Text Addict
Oddly, the victim - whom we never meet - is the most complex and interesting character in this book.

That's not a flaw, by the way; the protagonist is interesting enough as cozy mystery protagonists go (and more than some, but them I'm biased in favor of university professor protagonists from the get-go), but the late Professor Appleton is a study in contrasts, and a strong-willed, difficult, and opinionated individual to boot. That makes him much more prominent than most mystery-novel victims, w
Mar 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, cozy-mystery
This was a pretty fun cozy mystery. The idea of a mathematician and puzzle writer as a protagonist is a clever one, and the small university setting provides for a good amount of tension and drama that can lead to murder plots. (Of course, there's the amusing note that there hasn't been a murder in the town for years before this book, and yet since this is a series, the murder rate is obviously going to skyrocket.) There was definitely some nice use of Sophie's knowledge for finding clues and so ...more
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Professor Sophie Knowles is a mathematician professor at Henley College. In her spare time she likes to create brain teasers and solve puzzles. When the most disliked professor, Dr Keith Appelton, turns up dead, due to poison, Sophie sees this as not just another puzzle to solve, but also a way to clear up her assistant's name.

This was my very first time reading a cozy mystery series that featured brain teasers, puzzles and a mathematician professor and I loved every minute of it. While I only h
Jul 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
"The Square Root of Murder" is a cozy mystery. The setup was one where any character could have done the murder, and Sophie was able to spot pertinent clues as fast as the reader. I didn't spend much time guessing whodunit, but, at one point, I did think (without much conviction), "Huh, I bet such-and-such did it." Turns out, I was right. So it is guessable.

Details about the various jobs (professor, emergency worker, beading store owner, detective) and the setting were woven into the story and b
Nancy Rogan
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Finally, after the last several books I've read have been pretty much duds, I found a good one! Ada Madison has 2 other series: Miniature Mysteries (as Margaret Grace) about an amateur sleuth who does doll houses and other miniature crafts and the Periodic Table Mysteries (as Camille Minichino) about a retired physicist who helps solve crimes - she got to oxygen before changing to a short story format for fluorine. I have read both of those series and enjoyed them. This book is in a new series a ...more
Easy, cozy read, with a little less stupidity than some cozies (though with some of the flaws the genre is prone to). The narrator has a sense of humor and a sense of the ridiculous, which is good, but some events are weird and the police a little too incompetent.
Tyrannosaurus regina
It always feels like damning with faint praise when I say I like a book more than I expected to, but...well, I liked this more than I expected to, especially after putting it down after the first couple chapters and picking it up again weeks later. The university environment felt inauthentic, more like the author was dropping the appropriate lingo rather than actually understanding academia and higher level mathematics, and that really turned me off in the beginning. But I liked that the police ...more
Bailey Meeker
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: winter-11-12
This book seemed like a great match for me. The main character is a mathematician at a small liberal arts college in the north east us. All of which pertain to me in some way. Also, short mystery novels are usually a lot of fun, even if they aren't well written. However, this book is pretty boring, the math is thin on the ground, and I couldn't get into the characters. I finished the book just to find out who the murderer was, but I can honestly say I didn't really care and wasn't inclined to ma ...more
OK! I admit it. I slogged through to page 179 then finally gave up and skimmed to the end.

I really, really wanted to like this protagonist. A 'brainy' woman who is a mathematician and crime solver appealed to me. Unfortunately, Sophie Knowles did not. None of it felt 'real' to me. I could not connect with Sophie, could not understand her relationship with Bruce (her boyfriend), could not get into the setting or the number of inaccuracies related to the characters, the setting, and their interact
Feb 01, 2015 rated it liked it
This cozy is a bit on the meh side. We are at a supposedly prestigious women's college in Massachusetts but it has faculty without advanced degrees. The main character Sophie is supposed to be pure mathematics with focus of differential equations with the 'obvious' sideline of word puzzles, physical puzzles like Rubik's cube, and crosswords which actually makes no sense except as unrelated hobby. Besides the students undergrads and faculty hanging out in ways that seem fake to me, the characters ...more
Penny McGill
Feb 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: cozy
I was excited to find this title. The idea of a math professor who writes puzzles and brainteasers solving a mystery seemed so exciting. Unfortunately the character seemed too uncertain in her abilities and I don't think the cozy crafting element - a bead shop - came in seamlessly for me. There were very interesting storylines that seemed promising like her relationship with a helicopter ambulance specialist and having faculty and students as possible suspects could have been fun but something w ...more
Sep 18, 2011 rated it liked it
That I couldn't figure out who the killer was...up to the end, which is something I love in an author. The first book in this new series kept me guessing and with the vast number of possible suspects I didn't even come close to getting it right.

Having the main character with the profession of math professor is a nice change, as is her already established relationship with her pilot boyfriend. It's also nice that for a change Sophie isn't a flighty twenty something stick but an bit older, highly
Julie P
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Dr. Sophie Knowles, mathematics professor and creator of puzzles, works in academia meaning she is exposed daily to the elitist attitude of certain faculty members. When an unlikeable chemistry professor is discovered murdered in his office, and scattered around his office is the draft thesis of one of Sophie's favorite grad students, Sophie goes into action. Treating the murder like one of the brain teasers that she loves so much, Sophie begins to ask questions from all whom she suspects - whic ...more
Mar 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I picked this up on a whim at Seattle's Mystery Book Store (you should go there). On the surface, it is a lot what I like - mysteries, math, puzzles, etc.

I'm marking it down in rating for two reasons - the first is that I don't think it was terribly creative. So much of the setting, tone, plot just seemed derivative. The second is that some of the details about the college setting just really didn't ring true. (Here we have a detective, who uses a smart phone, and google, but also has her whimsi
May 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: cozy-mysteries
For a cozy mystery, this wasn't bad. I think the puzzle instances were somewhat forced and the bead store part was a diversion. The character somewhat interested me, although we really didn't get to know her or the supporting characters all that well.

All in all, it wasn't a bad book. It took me a few tries to get all the way through it, although part of that may be the fact that I have been feeling rather restless lately. Nothing much holds my attention for more than a few minutes.

I wouldn't be
Aug 02, 2012 rated it liked it
The protagonist of this series is a math professor at a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts whose passion is helping math fearful students become comfortable with the subject. She has a side job writing puzzles and brain teasers for publication. She's an interesting and likable character, but interestingly enough the most interesting character in this book is the one who ends up dead. We never actually meet him, but a fellow professor who was disliked in life, he turns out to have been a ...more
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Camille Minichino writes the Sophie Knowles mysteries under the pseudonym Ada Madison, and Geraldine Porter "Miniature" mysteries under the pseudonym Margaret Grace.
More about Ada Madison...

Other Books in the Series

Sophie Knowles (4 books)
  • The Probability of Murder (Sophie Knowles, #2)
  • A Function of Murder (Sophie Knowles, #3)
  • The Quotient of Murder (Sophie Knowles #4)

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