oxford skyline surmounting blood stained paper overlaid by white coffee cup ringsAn Argentinian mathematics student goes to Oxford in England on a scholarship. In addition to coping with living in a foreign land, he is soon coping with being closely acquainted with a series of murders.

The murder mystery is fairly pedestrian. What’s fun is the relationship between the student and the logic professor Arthur Seldom. There’s some shared background between the two in the mathematics and Seldom’s facility with Spanish, but through the course of the book they build something deeper and more complex. The book is written as if recounted years later looking back on the events and this nostalgic point of view colors and distances the events of the story. It feels quiet and restrained in a way that even though the book is set in the late 20th century makes it feel almost timeless.

The murders are early on identified as the work of a serial killer and the final resolution is refreshingly free of the cliches of that genre.