The Puzzly – The ISOTCMN Book Of The Month – July 2019

July is nearly over – only a month to go before I’m back at the chalkface, or whatever has replaced that term. I don’t think board-marker-face really works, but not sure of the alternative. Still, you’re not here to hear me bang on about Maths. Or are you? Let’s see.

Did you know that if you square the sum of the first n whole numbers, you get the same answer as the sum of the first n cube numbers? And if you’re a Maths teacher – as I know there are some of you out there – can you prove it without using any algebra?

Well, if you were here with an open mind for some Mathematical wonderment, superb, but what I imagine most of you are interested in is my reading this month – it’s been eleven books in total, which are as follows:

With A Bare Bodkin by Cyril Hare – interesting enough, but I’m yet to be convinced by Hare as a great crime writer.

In The Time Of The Poisoned Queen by Paul Doherty – the possible poisoning of Queen Mary occupies the attention of the immortal Nicholas Segalla in this well-crafted historical mystery.

The Dead Don’t Wait by Michael Jecks – wonderful historical mystery, the fourth Jack Blackjack escapade. Yes, I’m biased as Mike dedicated the book to me, but buy it anyway!

Death’s Dark Valley by Paul Doherty – wonderful historical mystery, the twentieth Hugh Corbett tale. One of the best post-murderer twists that I’ve seen as well.

The Maltese Herring by L C Tyler – the latest Ethelred and Elsie tales sees them on a treasure hunt, while also looking for a possible murderer…

The Bloody Tower by John Rhode – the first of three Rhode reviews, the best of the three, as a farmer is killed by an exploding shotgun

Death Of An Author by John Rhode – a reclusive retired author dies from an exploding piece of wood while he was chopping it. Not at all bad, but the ending wanders quite some distance from where it started.

Murder At Derivale by John Rhode – not good, and definitely not a good detective story.

Scandal At High Chimneys by John Dickson Carr – ignore the pervy cover (as it doesn’t happen in the book), this is flawed, but has some good points as well.

The Candles At Out by Nigel Fitzgerald – an author I will seek more from in the future. The characterisations are a bit off, especially the women, but a good mystery.

The Triple Bite by Brian Flynn – hang on, I hear you cry, you haven’t reviewed that one, have you?

Well, dear reader, no I haven’t. Let me explain.

The Triple Bite is the tale of a treasure hunt – a dying man decides to reward the only two people in his life by giving them each a cryptogram leading to the treasure. First one to find it, keeps it. Needless to say, this leads to murderous shenanigans and also reveals a surprising fact about Sherlock Holmes. It’s also the tenth Anthony Bathurst novel – for a good while, it looked like we were only going to do books 1 to 9, as we could not find a copy of this one, but luckily (and obviously) we did. Now the best book of the month – that’s a dead heat between the three old favourites of the blog, with Mike just edging it due to, well, dedicating the book to me. Len, you know what to do next time.

But the Puzzly? Well, given how delighted I am that a) I finally managed to read a copy, b) the fact that you will get the chance to read it on October 7th and c) it’s loads of fun, I’m really tempted to give the Puzzly to The Triple Bite. I’ll do the review leading up to the release date, but consider yourself told – it’s a great read, especially if you don’t think too hard about the logistics afterwards…

OK, I’ve decided – joint winners this month. Congrats to Michael Jecks for The Dead Don’t Wait – other authors, you know what to do, and congrats posthumously to Brian Flynn.

Next month, more Golden Age, more new stuff – sorry if you’re waiting on a review, it’s coming! – and who knows what else.

Just The Facts, Ma’am: The Triple Bite can count as WHERE – in a small village.


  1. Loving all the Brian Flynn covers. As a mathematician and very failed maths teacher, I can prove the truth of the proposition (which I’d never come across before) but only with algebra. I’d be very interested to see a non-algebraic proof.


    • “..which I’d never come across before”
      Well, it is a well-known proposition taught in High Schooln Algebra.


      • Well, no, it’s not in this country. The formulae for the sum of the cubes is Upper Sixth Further Maths over here, and the link between the two results is a curiosity, rather than being generalisable for other results, so it is not on the syllabus.

        When I get the chance, I’ll attach a graphic that demonstrates the proof onto the post.


  2. “…can you prove it without using any algebra?..”
    Well, if algebra is not to be used, then the only alternative is Geometry !


  3. I have just seen some graphical proofs of the proposition in the book “Proofs Without Words” by Roger B. Nelsen.


  4. Today, I saw an algebra text book taught in high school here. The sum of the cubes of the first n numbers is clearly taught and what you mentioned is stated as a corollary.


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