Cinnamon Bay Plantation on lush, tropical St. John was the ideal Caribbean island getaway: Or so it seemed. But for distinguished Harvard economist Henry Spearman, long overdue for R & R, it offered diversion of a decidedly different sort and one he'd hardly anticipated: murder.
It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Prickly and priggish, Gen. Hudson T. Decker (Ret.) might have been a Cinnamon Bay regular, but he'd managed to alienate fellow guests and a lot of townspeople over the years. Suddenly, before the local inspector has assembled a suspect list, there is a mysterious drowning and a second murder, this time a former U.S. Supreme Court justice. Prime suspects abound: a liberal professor of divinity, a vengeful wife, an alleged girlfriend, and a handful of angry local activists.
While the island police force is mired in an investigation that leads everywhere and nowhere, the diminutive, balding Spearman, who likes nothing better than to train his curiosity on human behavior, conducts an investigation of his own, one governed by rather different laws--those of economics. Theorizing, hypothesizing, Spearman sets himself on the trail of the killer as it twists from the postcard-perfect beaches and manicured lawns of a premier resort to the bustling old port of Charlotte Amalie to the densely forested hiking trails with their perilous drops to a barren, deserted cay offshore.
Now available in a new critical edition, Marshall Jevons's Murder at the Margin was first published in 1978, when it marked the debut of Henry Spearman. Spearman relies on economic thinking to solve crimes--a distinction that places him in the pantheon of such fictional investigators as Father Brown, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, and Rabbi Small.
"Writing pseudonymously, [William Breit and Kenneth Elzinga] have created Henry Spearman, a Harvard economist (actually a "Chicago' economist affiliated with Harvard), who utilizes the economic way of thinking literally to figure out "whodunit.' If there is a more painless way to learn economic principles, scientists must have recently discovered how to implant them in ice cream."--John R. Haring, Jr., Wall Street Journal
"This is a tight little mystery that should hold the interest of any student who enjoys detective stories. At the same time, it contains some basic economic lessons, presented in a way that the first-year student will have no difficulty understanding. . . . Its style is crisp and entertaining, and its cast of characters will delight any mystery lover. . . . What gives Murder at the Margin its sparkle are the shrewd observations about academic life and the authors' ability to transform statements of economic law into deft character analysis."--Sarah Gallagher and George Dawson, Journal of Economic Education
"At last a new kind of mastermind--a rational 'homoeconomics' and libertarian. If Henry Spearman had not existed, God would have had to invent him. Marshall Jevons did, to his readers' benefit."--Paul Samuelson
"I thought the economic argument extremely ingenious and the idea of using economic analysis as a way to solve the mystery most original."--Milton Friedman
This book has been translated into:
- Chinese (Complex)
- Chinese (Simplified)
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Marshall Jevons: