The Last Equation of Isaac Severy ~ by Nova Jacobs

I picked this book up because it was on sale and then I found out it had won a bunch of lesser literary accolades if not awards.  It had been looking kind of good to me anyway but who knows?  Yes, imo, it’s probably flawed but it’s too fun to get picky about.

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy
by Nova Jacobs
2020 /
read by Lisa Flanagan 9h 36m
rating: 9 / A+


Whatever else,  it’s probably the fun-est novel I’ve read in a long time and it is a mystery although not a murderous one – or a thriller really.  It’s a math puzzler (I very much enjoy those) with a dysfunctional family comprised of brilliant people.  Possibly a wee bit occult side? 

There are so many characters in a rather complex plot I had to take notes.  There’s quite a lot of math, too, but as usual in math-fiction understanding this is not vital.  I got about 1/2 way and started over because I’m partially distracted by life-events while being mesmerized by the book. How does this happen?  

The Isaac Severy of the title, was a world renowned mathematician and the beloved patriarch of his own family. He dies before the actual narrative starts but first he mails a letter to his granddaughter Hazel, the owner of a seriously failing bookstore in Seattle where she’s now homeless too.  Hazel travels to the funeral in LA and her shop assistant has to mail her the letter from Isaac.

It seems Isaac has solved an important math equation and Hannah is to find it and preserve it from the others who seek it. The family of Isaac and Hannah is very dysfunctional but Isaac is a loving soul and so, apparently is Hannah.

Wall Street Journal’s “Mysteries: Best of 2018”
*Book of the Month Club Selection
*Edgar Award Nominee: Best First Novel by an American Author

And check out the blurbs in the Amazon review.

Many developed characters – the backgrounds of others are developed later in the book”

 Philip Severy  (50-something) – Isaac’s son and a physicist with twin sons who are tennis players.  He also has at least one daughter.  

Jane – Philip’s wife – 

Tom Philip brother of Philip and son of Isaac. He’s just getting out of jail for some kind of violence. He’s also very smart but is bad news for the family gene pool. Tom’s wife has disappeared somewhere.

Hazel –  30-something, Tom’s foster-daughter who as a child was sent to Isaac and loves him dearly.  

Gregory – brother of Hazel and Tom’s foster-son was also sent to live with Isaac. They are a part of the family. Gregory is a cop with the LAPD – 

Paige –  Isaac’s daughter –  rather mean, gossipy,  Greg and Hazel’s aunt –  She never married but she has a grown daughter/son (Alex?),  Paige is very mysterious. 

Alex – Alexis – son of Paige. An Anglophile. Not a mathematician now, but he was a prodigy until a car accident.  Now a photographer.  Mistaken for female – gay?  

 Syble – child of Philip and Jane.  She sleep walks and talks 
Jack –  Syble’s husband 
Drew –  age 5 – precocious daughter of Syble and Jack

Fritz – Isaac’s long term accountant 

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