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Posted September 20, 2007
Great math mystery that's not too technical
University of Colorado math professor Jayne Smyers hires Pepper Keane, former Marine JAG turned PI, to investigate the deaths of three other math professors. The Feds have investigated and found no link between the deaths. Jayne is convinced there's a link. Pepper is skeptical at first but agrees to look into it. There's plenty of bad blood between Pepper and FBI agent Polk who did some of the investigating. This history adds to Pepper's determination to investigate these deaths. As Pepper digs deeper into the deaths, he begins to see some similar threads that continue to propel him forward. With romance in the air, Pepper worries that Jayne may be the next victim. Can he decipher the pattern and unmask the killer before anyone else is killed? Can he protect Jayne as well? I thoroughly enjoyed this refreshing mystery. Pepper is a fabulous character, even with his baggage. It is explained throughout the book, so we aren't left floundering. His interactions with Polk, Jayne, detectives where each mathematician was killed, his brother, his neighbors, and his best friend really help us to get to know him. I found the math to be explained in plain English so that it was easy to understand. It also didn't detract from the investigation it actually enhanced it. I am not a mathematician, but I really enjoyed this book. I hope he writes more in this series. I can't wait to read them. I highly recommend this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 21, 2004
Finally An Original Mystery!
Cohen's protagonist, Pepper Keane, is a former Marine JAG turned private eye who lives in a hippie community west of Boulder, Colorado, with his two dogs - Buck and Wheat. Keane is a tough guy who can wisecrack with the best of them - and often does - but he is also an introspective idealist who secrety reads philosophy for fun. He has an encylopedic knowledge of music trivia and a Diet Coke addiction. When math professor Jayne Smyers discovers that three other mathematicians, all specialists in fractal geometry, all died under mysterious circumstances, she notifies the FBI. When the feds conclude the deaths were unrelated, the attractive (and single) Jayne hires Pepper to find the connection. With his sidekick, a hot-headed unemployed astrophysicist named 'Two toe' McCutcheon,Pepper begins looking for clues on a journey that takes him to a national forest in the middle of Nebraska, a city in Kansas known for black squirrels (or 'Squirrels of Color'), and the math department at Harvard, to name a few. As the clues add up, the suspects multiply, but ultimately the best bet to be the bad guy is the very FBI agent that told Jayne the three deaths were unrelated. And that agent, Mike Polk, just happens to have been Pepper's classmate in law school -- a long-time enemy that Pepper still holds responsible for his girlfriend's death 20 years ago. Don't let the math bother you. Cohen has a gift for explaining complex concepts through dialogue that any six year-old could understand. I learned more about math and philosophy from this book than I did in four years of college, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Cohen's wit and writing ability are evident on every page. My only criticism is that the book leaves you hanging at the end because you are dying to know whether Pepper and Jayne are going to get together. Evidently Cohen is saving this for a sequel. Pepper Keane is what you might get if you could combine the writing of Robert B. Parker, Kinky Friedman, and Bertrand Russell with the punching power of Mike Tyson and the wry wit of Mark Twain.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 30, 2004
Fascinating cerebreal mystery
University of Colorado math professor Jayne Smyers sent her paper on fractal geometry to five of her peers. However, three are unable to respond because they died within a few months of one another. Jayne, used to finding patterns where none seemingly exist, believes the probability of this pattern in her relatively small populated field too astronomical to consider as random................................... She hires former US Marine¿s judge magistrate Pepper Keane to set aside his Gordon Lightfoot collection and investigate the three deaths. The link seems nebulous at best with the only commonality being math. However, Pepper becomes a bit suspicious of FBI Agent Mike Polk, who insists coincidence is the only connection since parallel lines never meet. Pepper realizes that his hatred for Post might be causing him to see a radically different pattern as he blames the Denver based agent for the death of his lover, but feels that contrary to Euclid these parallel cases connect at a vertex, which leads back to Post.................................. Mark Cohen furbishes an entertaining private investigative tale that provides fascinating insight into fractal geometry. Snowflakes and shorelines aside, the mystery is fun to follow as Pepper looks for the pattern that ties the dead trio together while Jayne explains her expertise to him even as he hungers for a closer look at her shape. Don¿t let the geometry keep you from reading an enjoyable solid analytical mystery that plainly works on several hyperbolic levels with a final twist in which the sum of the angles of a triangle do not equal 180 degrees...................... Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 28, 2011
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