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Pythagorean Crimes [Paperback]

Tefcros Michaelides

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Book Description

Oct. 20 2008

Athens, 1929. Stefanos Kantartzis is found murdered, and Michael Igerinos, his best friend of 30 years, is being questioned by the police as the last person to see him alive. 

While looking at his dead friend’s body, Michael is immediately taken back to the late summer of 1900 when he and Stefanos first met in the crammed Sorbonne University lecture hall. The story of their friendship begins during the Second International Congress of Mathematics—an event that was to become a landmark for 20th century mathematical research.

At the root of this historically based work of fiction lies the question as to whether the solution to a mathematical problem could inspire such passion, so intense and perilous, as to drive someone to murder.

The story takes the reader behind the scenes of academia, into the world of Bertrand Russell, Hilbert, Poincaré, and Gödel, and through the streets of Bohemian Paris at the heyday of Montmartre, the Moulin Rouge, and the “Zut”—the infamous hangout of Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Max Jacob, and many other colorful characters.

Pythagorean Crimes follows in the tradition of popular mathematical fiction like Doxiadis’ Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture and Martinez’ Oxford Murders. Yet brings with it old-world charm and the cultural richness of the social, political, scientific and intellectual circles of early 20th century France, Germany, and Greece.

 

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Parmenides Publishing (Oct. 20 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193097227X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930972278
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 14.1 x 1.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #648,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

When Stefanos Kantartzis is found dead in his home in Athens in 1929 , his closest friend, mathematician Michael Igerinos, becomes the obvious and only suspect in his murder. The dead man had had an affair with Igerinos's ex-wife, and, more recently, had begun a relationship with Igerinos's former mistress. Told mostly in flashbacks, Michaelides's less-than-gripping mystery debut begins with Igerinos's first encounter with Kantartzis at the Second International Congress of Mathematicians, held in Paris in 1900. Since the sleuthing is secondary to the author's efforts to engage the reader in the intricacies and disputations of higher mathematics, the book's appeal will be largely limited to hardcore math fans. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Pythagorean Crimes is a thriller of the mind. It's the thinking-person's answer to the Da Vinci Code. This novel gives a glimpse into the intellectually-charged atmosphere of early 20th century Europe. You're drawn into the characters' devotion to their work, and you wish you were sitting at the next table at the cafe, overhearing their conversations. Not content to just explore the personalities behind the intellectual developments of the 19th and 20th centuries, this novel makes the scholars' mathematical work as compelling as any of the characters.

Few people associate mathematics and the sciences with the bustling social scene led by Picasso and his colleagues. Tefcros Michaelides breaks the stereotypes about mathematicians and their work as he spins a compelling tale about the greatest minds of 100 years ago and their passions for their work. This novel gives us a glimpse of what it was like to be an eager, young, and up-and-coming scholar during a time where intellectual pursuits were ripe for the picking. Pythagorean Crimes shares what it's like to have a single-minded focus on a mathematical problem. This novel transports the reader (even one with no mathematical background) into a world where the pursuit of mathematical truth is an all-consuming force."
—Dr. Amy Szczepanski
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pre-Algebra (2008)



"Pythagorean Crimes is a masterly-told story of romance, art, history, political intrigue, and mathematics, all woven together in a thriller that will be sure to captivate you from the first page to the last."
—Eli Maor
The Pythagorean Theorem: a 4,000-Year History and To Infinity and Beyond: A Cultural History of the Infinite
 



"Tefcros Michaelides sets his mystery of the murder of a Greek mathematics high-school teacher against the backdrop of the history of early modernism and the great philosophical questions at the heart of modern mathematics. It’s a delightful synthesis, at once great fun to read and insightful, giving a rare side view of the cultural significance of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem."
—Apostolos Doxiadis
Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture



 


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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unusual historical-math-fiction March 12 2009
By Grant Cairns - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is folklore that Hippasus was drowned by Pythagorians for proving a fact that today we interpret as the irrationality of root 2. In this simple form, this often repeated myth is quite unbelievable. Michaelides' novel is a modern reformulation of the crime. The book is a well crafted piece of historical-math-fiction. However, its basic storyline is just as unbelievable as the original legend, and ultimately it resonates hollowly. The book has several other weaknesses. As a work of fiction, I found that the prose was rather flat and uninspired, though it's possible that the translation has detracted from the original. The mathematical topics that are woven into the text are reasonably well presented, but somewhat predictable; they are very much the tried and true standbys.

The main attractions of the book are its originality of concept, and the fact that considerable care has been taken with its design. The book is unusual in that it has several parallel strands, which are all presented with an historical perspective: in particular, apart from the mathematics, there is an artistic strand, built around Picasso, a fictional underworld/prostitution theme, and a depiction of a number of real political events. The integration of these strands has been well accomplished, and makes the book original and innovative. If you enjoy the fiction-math genre, it is certainly worth reading.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rather historical Aug. 1 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First of all I want to say that I enjoyed the novel. I think the author is influenced by Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture: A Novel of Mathematical Obsession which is not a bad thing, since Doxiadis is a talented writer. The plot is not very exciting but the historical unfolding of mathematics mainly between 1850 to 1930 is very interesting. The author presents the history of math with a lot of unknown details through a group of young people in Paris. The idea to involve Picasso was also very brilliant. We also get the chance to know more about the Greek history between 1900-1930 which is interesting for Greeks like me, but I don't know how other nationalities will feel about.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Crime Thriller with Mathematics, Picasso and Logic March 21 2011
By Feanor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Being obvious is possibly the worst comment a reader can make on a crime novel, but what is obvious to one person may be opaque to another. In Tefcros Michaelides's Pythagorean Crimes, the twist at the end depends for its surprise entirely on whether the reader knows the history of mathematics or not. The plot is rather straightforward - a Greek mathematician is found murdered and his best friend (the narrator) looks back on his career, hoping to find clues to his death in his past. The description of this past is possibly the weakest part of the book: Michaelides evidently believes that describing the excitement and fervour of early 20th century mathematics is insufficient to drive the book forward, so he throws in a long section on the development of modern art in the back alleys of Paris, introducing Picasso and his coterie, and claiming that Picasso's art was much informed by his own fascination for the foundations of logic. The plot hinges on an important question on the underlying consistency of mathematics, but surely it defies logic that the resolution to this question should verily be a life-and-death matter? An OK read.
2.0 out of 5 stars Pythagorean Crimes - 2006 April 21 2013
By Sam Adams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Plot Kernel - Two mathematics students bum around together during the 1900 Paris Second International Congress of Mathematics. Their conversations are on mathematics, designed to introduce the reader to the topics of discussion. At the convention, Hilbert gives his famous talk, where the focus for the story is on axiomatic systems and the proof or disproof of famous conjectures. This covers close to 100 pages of the approximately 230 page novel. The rest of the story revolves around the narrator's involvement with two women, his meeting with Picasso, and his returning friendship with the man with whom he talked mathematics while bumming around Paris in 1900. Greek politics of the period occasionally moves the story along. Throughout the novel, conversations turn to instructional presentations of bits of mathematics. There is a 39 page glossary at the end of the book that's a mini-encyclopedia of biographical and topical entries.

Comment - This book fails as a novel and as popular mathematics. It is atrocious as storytelling and insipid as an introduction to mathematical ideas.
3.0 out of 5 stars the book April 11 2013
By sam smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The order took a really long time to get to me,but I guess that is what you get when you order an obscure book. Also the book itself is not very interesting because of the math in it. But hey if your a math enthusiast be my guest and get it.

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