Partitions of Unity: Novel
Visiting Berkeley, a French mathematician, Robert Lavoisier, crosses paths by chance with Elizabeth Cromwell, a professional dominant, in a vacant house in Montclair, California. The owner of the house is dead. He has kept a statue of Elizabeth in a hollow book, Der Mann Ohne Eigenschaften(The Man Without Qualities), one of several items of an obsessive erotic attachment to her. She is at the house to take them. As Lavoisier leaves he invites Cromwell to join him at a bar. When she arrives later at the bar she is told that a man inside has died of a heart attack. She leaves, not knowing that Lavoisier has been murdered. Lavoisier's car is found parked two blocks from his house, his cell phone and wallet tucked in a seat compartment, but his laptop is missing. In his search for the laptop, a mathematician at UC Berkeley, a close friend of Lavoisier, deduces that Elizabeth stole it, but on meeting her realizes his error. He realizes at a second meeting that it is the strangeness of Elizabeth's encounter with Lavoisier that is the vital piece of evidence that any explanation of Lavoisier's murder must contend with. Most strange of all is Lavoisier's invitation to Elizabeth to join him at a bar. On the resonance of a phrase, "Partitions of Unity," they are led to a paper of twenty years earlier in a journal of psychoanalysis: "Les Diagrammes Enfantinsof a Schizophrenic Adolescent." From this paper they resolve three separate mysteries that encompass the death of Lavoisier. In the process they discover each other.
About the Author
At age 14, Jennifer Mason left Kansas for Malibu. With a nagging alter ego, neither able to talk herself into or out of a commitment to writing, she took the coast road to San Francisco. In an abandoned Prohibition speakeasy, she invented the English Department, where she discovered a voice in a brand of professional dominance as mysterious in its puritan fantasy as it is comical in its enactments of how we need to feel. She is the author of four previous novels, The Oddball Gypsy Raconteur, Valedictorian, Sebastopol, and Tors Lake.Like Partitions of Unityher stories follow their characters through scenes of what they think they see when they are most confused, the way things usually are when we struggle for an erotic connection. She lives and writes on Noe Street.
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