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by Parnell Hall

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-312-60248-2
Publisher: Minotaur

Since every murderer in Bakerhaven, Conn., seems to leave a puzzle with the corpse, Police Chief Harper considers himself lucky that the Puzzle Lady is on hand to solve them. If only he knew.

Cora Felton, who’s been married at least six times, has started a relationship with the unhappily married Dr. Nathan but covered herself by getting people to think he’s romancing local attorney Becky Baldwin. The deception would be impossible for anyone but Cora, the face of a syndicated crossword empire who can’t construct or solve crosswords—her niece Sherry is the person who actually creates them—though she’s a whiz at sudoku. The latest puzzling victim is a tourist staying at a bed and breakfast run by the elderly Guilford sisters. Always looking to help out Becky, Cora has her represent the sisters and their nephew Alan Guilford, who claims to have just arrived from New York. His girlfriend, Arlene, who lives next door, bursts onto the scene with a crossword she found on the doorstep. Once the crossword is solved, all the clues point to Arsenic and Old Lace, including the exact poison used by the fictional sisters in the well-known play and movie. More bodies and more crosswords add to the confusion. The town drunk is found dead in the Guilfords’ window seat. He’s followed by one of the sisters, then another couple staying at the B&B. Is the logic of the play dictating the killer’s actions, or are all the deaths just a coverup for one?

Clever, manipulative Cora ($10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles, 2012, etc.) provides laughs and an ingenious mystery along with the obligatory puzzles for those who can’t figure out whodunit.