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The Puzzler Murders

By James P. Carse


Publishers Weekly starred, boxed review--

"Carse (The Religious Case Against Belief) makes his impressive fiction debut with a cerebral mystery that combines sophisticated puzzles (linguistic, mathematical, and literary) with a searing indictment of American education and business practices. The death of Oliver Ridley, the newly appointed dean of an unnamed university in upstate New York, is assumed to be a suicide until an emailed puzzle received by faculty and students is deciphered and ominously reads: 'The first to go is the most recent of ten.' Jack Lister, the university’s president, appoints rhetorician Professor Carmody to head a commission to help the police identify the so-called Puzzler. A second puzzle arrives a month later. When solved, it reveals both the next victim and the victim’s ugly secret. Neither the police nor Carmody’s committee makes much progress unmasking the Puzzler. When the surprising killer is finally revealed, the choice of victims is fully explained and their sins detailed. Carse, an NYU emeritus professor, writes with wit and great insight into the workings of academe ('Like most academics, they were uncomfortable in the presence of real teachers')." (Nov. 2016)

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.


Carse, Emeritus Professor himself at a premier university—in a major city on a square—shows no mercy in his creation of the seemingly omniscient Puzzler, who through a sequence of atrocities beginning and ending with the academic year, turns up one hidden pocket of moral rot after another: flawed research, unabashed venality, ideological rigidity, pornographic obsessions, undue political and corporate influence, subtle schemes of blackmail, the penetration of national and foreign intelligence agencies, brazen violation of copyrights, even the production and sale of addictive drugs.





Praise for PHDeath:

“Carse is a kind of agile provocateur, eager to prise us out of our set positions, to get us thinking . . .He contrives to make the thrashing out of essential issues both urgent and enjoyable.” 
Pico Iyer, The New York Review of Books

Praise for books by James Carse:


“James Carse reveals that we don’t have to go to India to have a mystical experience, and transcendence can and does occur in our own backyard. His fresh new book shows us how." 

Dan Wakefield
“Beguilingly beautiful, hauntingly evocative, and serenely successful.” 

John Dominic Crosson, author of The Historical Jesus
“Once in a while a book comes along that adds a new pattern of knowledge to existing facts. The result is striking. Old dull things you’ve known for years suddenly stand up in a whole new dimension.” 
 – Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

"The engaging and insightful stories explain why Carse has gained an almost cult-like following at NYU and beyond.” 
 Publishers Weekly

JAMES P. CARSE is Professor Emeritus of history and literature of religion at New York University.  Director of the Religious Studies and winner of the University’s Great Teacher Award, he is the author of six previous books  and lives in New York and Massachusetts.


Fiction/Suspense/ Mystery/Puzzles
Opus Trade Paperback Original •  $19.95  
320 pages • 6 x 9  • World 
ISBN: 978-1-62316-066-1

E-BOOK Editions Available

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