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Ebook Details
  • 03/2021
  • B08SQ6KKZF
  • 306 pages
  • $4.99
Daniel Miller
The Tree of Knowledge

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Publish)

It is said that the greatest chess grandmasters envision a match’s outcome ten moves before it occurs. Imagine a person who could visualize ten steps ahead not only in the game of chess but in every human interaction. Imagine a person who could see a punch before it was thrown, who could anticipate what you say before you said it. Imagine a person who could see the chess game of politics, economics, and power itself unfold long before it happens. Imagine a book that could make all of this possible. Mathematics professor Albert Puddles is such a person, and as he is thrust into a murder and burglary investigation on the Princeton campus he finds that there is such a book. The discovery leads Albert to team up with an aging mentor, a curious graduate assistant, and an unusual “book club” on a frantic chase across the country to recover the book’s secret and clear his name. Through this adventure, Albert rediscovers a woman from his past and is forced to confront his own understanding of love, rationality, power, and the limits of the human mind.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 10.00 out of 10


Plot: Miller has created a complex thriller full of logical puzzles and action. It sets the start of the series up to be an exciting adventure. The characters are funny and endearing here, even the villains.

Prose/Style: While the story is very dense with information, the strategies are clearly explained and easy to understand. The events unfold logically and the reader’s questions are answered in the end.

Originality: This story combines several elements to create an exciting thriller that is very unique. It takes the thriller plot of a secret society trying to take over the government and expertly adds a twist of logic puzzles that are used to create heroes to stop the secret society.

Character Development/Execution: Every character’s background is carefully laid out and explained. While there are some surprises that are revealed at the end (and possibly in further books), the characters are all very detailed and well fleshed out here. The main characters develop and grow through their challenging experiences.

Date Submitted: April 30, 2021

In this quirky and engaging debut thriller, a delightfully oddball team of academics relies as much on brains as brawn in challenging a powerful "Society" with mysterious aims. Princeton mathematics professor Albert Puddles finds his blissfully ordered life thrown into confusion after he helps the police make sense of a clue at a murder scene: a "game tree" used in logic theory. Puddles and his graduate assistant, Ying Koh, consult Puddles's brilliant mentor Angus Turner, who reveals he created a logic system—the Tree of Knowledge—that allows its user to manipulate anyone. Now, a mysterious woman named "Eva" has stolen it and Puddles et al. must stop her from delivering it into the "wrong hands."

Miller has created a wonderfully loopy world where there's almost no line between the physical and the mental--Turner’s study in logic has helped make him a formidable fighter. Indeed, the novel teems with historical, scientific, and literary surprises: Miller slips in fun facts about ciphers from ancient Rome to the Civil War and also connects the Tree of Knowledge system with the biblical tree of knowledge. Amusingly, the members of Turner's support group all have names taken from Paradise Lost. These good-natured twists come again and again, so readers are likely to forgive the occasionally fantastic plot and the rather abrupt ending, which might get further resolved in promised sequels.

For a thriller, the protagonists are an unusual bunch: Puddles and Ying gamely try to function outside of academia with limited success, and Albert is mystified when his colleagues are astonished by his eating habits—nothing but protein bars. But Puddles is more than a collection of humorous tics, as we see when the hyper-logical professor breaks down under the onslaught of true emotion he's spent his life trying to avoid. With offbeat characters, brain teasers, and imaginative action, readers will be eager to see what trouble Puddles and Ying get into next.

Takeaway: Vividly eccentric characters who rely on intellect as much as weapons make this a thriller fans are likely to remember.

Great for fans of: Dan Brown, Umberto Eco

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: B+
Illustrations: A-
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-

Ebook Details
  • 03/2021
  • B08SQ6KKZF
  • 306 pages
  • $4.99