Partitions of Unity
Visiting Berkeley, a French math- ematician, Robert Lavoisier, crosses paths by chance with Elizabeth Cromwell, a professional dominant, in a vacant house in Mont- clair, California. e owner of the house is dead. He has kept a statue of Elizabeth in a hollow book, Der Mann Ohne Eigenschaften ( e Man With- out 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 mathema- tician 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 en- counter 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 jour- nal of psychoanalysis: “Les Diagrammes Enfantins of a Schizophrenic Adoles- cent.”From this paper they resolve three separate mysteries that encompass the death of Lavoisier. In the process they discover each other.