Dennis Gossen is dead, a career in economics cut short by the Harvard Promotion and Tenure Committee and an apparent suicide. When two members of that committee are killed, Gossen's fiancee, Melissa Shannon, finds herself indicted for murder. Once again, Henry Spearman, Professor of Economics at Harvard, finds himself on the track of a murderer and once again Marshall Jevons presents his readers with a captivating murder mystery riddle.
Was it Morrison Bell, mathematics star, inventor of devices to defeat the squirrels in his birdfeeders? Or was it owl-like Oliver Wu the distinguished sociologist who harbors deep resentments? Was it Valerie Danzig, supposedly former "item" with Dennis Gossen? Or maybe Foster Barrett, gourmet Harvard classicist? What about Cristolph Burckhardt, infatuated employer of Gossen's fiancee? Or Sophia Ustinov, Russian emigre, lover of American poetry and Borzoi hounds? Three lives come to an end. And when Spearman begins to piece it together, the murderer and Henry find themselves face to face on a luxury liner in a storm at sea in the fourth and final Fatal Equilibrium.
For the reader who follows the clues, the solution to this conundrum is, as usual in the best of this genre, elementary. The difference in this case is that it is elementary economics. The Fatal Equilibrium is a mystery novel that provides a grasp of basic economics on the way to finding out whodunnit. Its predecessor, Murder at the Margin, has already achieved a cult following. In a review of Jevons' earlier book, The Wall Street Journal remarked that "if there is a more painless way to learn economic principles, scientists must have recently discovered how to implant them in ice cream."