Daily Archives: December 31, 2008

A Person of Interest by Susan Choi

A Person of Interest opens as Dr. Lee’s office mate receives a package in the mail that contains a bomb that shatters his and Dr Lee’s office. Dr. Lee, a mathematician who immigrated from China, is a solitary man whose two wives have deserted him and whose daughter moved away and is rarely in touch. In his solitary, strictly logic-driven life, he seeks for an explanation to the bombing and accumulates odd behaviors —  odd to the uninitiated eye; they are perfectly logical for him —  that prompt the FBI to declare him a person of interest. The declaration scares and humiliates him, and starts a torrent of distrust at first, then outright hatred from his neighbors and his colleagues.

As the story of the criminal investigation unfolds the story of Dr. Lee’s life unfolds with it, because indeed the bomber is tied to his past and also because his new precarious position makes him revisit his family and professional history. I very much liked how the author linked the life of the hermit immigrant to the criminal investigation — and how well she understands the real-life challenges of good mathematicians… The bomber turns out to be a close relative of the Unabomber and we could have wished for a more inventive perpetrator, but the person of interest is, indeed, interesting.

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