A colleague has very helpfully provided me with a copy of the murder mystery set at the IHES that I wrote about recently here, and I’ve just finished reading it. Since I’m not much of an afficionado of this genre of fiction, I can’t really evaluate how good a murder mystery it is. But as a memoir of the IHES during the 1980s, it is excellent. A claim at the beginning of the book that “any resemblance to real persons is just coincidence” seems to be one of the few things in it (besides the murder) that is fiction. As far as I can tell, the descriptions of all characters correspond precisely to someone at the IHES during that period, with only the names changed. I’m guessing that all or most of the anecdotes about these characters also correspond to reality.
It’s a roman a clef, so here’s the key for the major characters:
Andre Grusin = Leon Motchane
Henrik Dekker = Nicolaas Kuiper
Charles Bouleaux = Marcel Berger
Antoine Fleuret = Alain Connes
Jacob Zuram = Barry Mazur
Boris Grekov = Mikhael Gromov
Jacques Chevalier = Pierre Deligne
Among the minor characters, I suspect
Joe Bub = Dennis Sullivan
David Amir = Ofer Gabber
Albert Toudy = Adrien Douady
I don’t think I’ll be giving away too much of the plot to mention that, since the novel was written nearly twenty years ago, back when string theory was a hot topic, one of the plot twists involves string theory. There’s a discovery that “superstring theory is renormalizable and predicts that gluonic interactions are colorless”.
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