PhDeath: The Puzzler Murders by James Carse is a murder mystery/thriller that is fast-paced and hard to figure out.
From the publisher:
PhDeath is a fast-paced thriller set in a major university in a major city on a square. The faculty finds itself in deadly intellectual combat with the anonymous Puzzler. Along with teams of US Military Intelligence and the city’s top detective and aided by the Puzzle Master of The New York Times, their collective brains are no match for the Puzzler’s perverse talents.
According to Carse, the book is directed toward four types of people – readers of the thriller genre or attracted to a novel of ideas, puzzle aficionados, and those concerned about the erosion of the university’s commitment to universal education. After reading the book, I can see all of those people enjoying this book.
The puzzles are intriguing (although I have to admit I skipped a few of them to get to the solution) and the way the puzzles are solved by the committee created to solve them is fascinating. Carse knows how to create a puzzle and how to explain how to solve it.
Carse also uses his insider knowledge of higher education (emeritus professor at New York University) in developing the characters and plot. The murder victims are composites of people who are very realistic. However, one of them apparently was based on a real person – he leaves it up to the reader to determine who that is.
An engaging and easy read.