Adler, ``creator'' of the puzzle-contest books Who Killed the Robins Family? and Revenge of the Robins Family, is at it again, with a teasing blackmail-kidnap-murder tale whose best solution is worth a $10,000 prize. This one takes the form of three linked novellas: the first two—the murder of a hated cosmetics queen aboard a luxury yacht, and an apparent terrorist killing on a Peruvian archeological dig—are solved by retired Interpol Inspector Justin Birkby; the third—the impossible kidnapping of one of the suspects from earlier on, with murder obbligato—is left up for grabs. Though the characters are cardboard and Birkby quotes Tudor/Stuart drama too often for comfort, the three stories, individually and as a group, show far more ingenuity and finesse than Adler's earlier packages—presumably because of first-time coauthor Cassiday—and you might want to match your wits against Birkby's even if you're not into contests or merchandising ploys.
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