Welcome to www.thesemanticsofmurder.com, the website for The Semantics of Murder, a new novel by Irish writer Aifric Campbell which will be published by Serpent’s Tail in April 2008. A tale of Freud meets Fatal Attraction, The Semantics of Murder was inspired by the unsolved murder of Richard Montague, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1971. Described by Patricia Duncker as “a gripping psychological drama that hooks the reader into a compelling labyrinth of sibling rivalry and stealthy passion,” The Semantics of Murder is a novel that will appeal to readers who have enjoyed psychological mysteries such as The Book of Evidence (John Banville), The Interpretation of Murder (Jeb Rubenfeld), The Dante Club (Matthew Pearl), The Oxford Murders (Guillermo Martinez), The Other Side of You (Sally Vickers). Stevie Davies describes how the "The Semantics of Murder leads us on a dark and thrilling quest through murderous spaces of the mind."

Aifric was born in Ireland and grew up in Dublin. It was while she was a student in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden that Aifric Campbell first came across the work of Richard Montague, a mathematician and philosopher who is best known for his theory of semantics. Montague studied under Alfred Tarski at Berkeley and went on to become a Professor of Philosophy at UCLA. His work represented a challenge to Noam Chomsky’s theory of language and Montague himself described his model-theoretic approach as “a more hopeful way of approaching ordinary language than the attempt of Chomsky.” Montague Semantics - also known as Montague Grammar - is still a key element in the university curriculum for Formal Semantics, Computational Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence. Richard Montague courted controversy in his private life – he was a highly promiscuous gay who regularly cruised the gay haunts of Los Angeles. When Richard Montague was found strangled in the bathroom of his Beverly Hills home, the LAPD concluded that he had been killed by rent boys. The crime remains unsolved.

Aifric Campbell has lived in the UK since the 1980s. Aifric started out at the London Stock Exchange and then moved to American investment bank Morgan Stanley in London. Aifric worked as a Convertible Bond Trader in the Equity Division and later became Head of Sales in International Convertible Bonds at Morgan Stanley based in Canary Wharf. Aifric was promoted to Managing Director in 1998.

After leaving Morgan Stanley Aifric Campbell was awarded a place on the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in 2002. UEA has established an international reputation for excellence in creative writing and its alumni include Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro and the 2007 Man Booker prizewinner Anne Enright. Aifric Campbell completed her PhD in Critical and Creative Writing at UEA in 2007 and her doctoral research received an award from the Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC). In recent years she has lectured in creative writing at UEA. Aifric has been a Thayer fellow at UCLA and a Yaddo resident.

Richard Montague appears as a character in Aifric Campbell’s novel The Semantics of Murder. The book tells the story of a celebrated psychoanalyst in Kensington who uses his clients’ case histories as raw material for the best-selling novels he writes under a pseudonym. Aifric has a particular interest in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis which she studied at Regent’s College and The Westminster Pastoral Foundation (WPF) in London. Indeed The Semantics of Murder is partly inspired by Freud’s legendary case history of Dora.

Aifric’s research on The Semantics of Murder took her to Los Angeles where she spent time with the Cold Case Unit at the LAPD and the Department of Coroner. Aifric Campbell wrote The Semantics of Murder while she was at UEA and completed the book at Yaddo. The novel was acquired by Pete Ayrton at Serpent’s Tail / Profile Books. Aifric Campbell is represented by Kate Jones at ICM in London.

Aifric lives in East Sussex where she lives with her husband and young son.

More details about the book and the author can be found on

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