Using Hall’s trademark humor and panache, the Puzzle Lady (A Puzzle to Be Named Later, 2017, etc.) finds yet another clever...


It takes both a crossword puzzle and a sudoku to provide the clues that solve several murders.

Although Cora Felton excels at solving sudokus, she doesn’t have anything like the crossword-puzzle savvy that would justify the lucrative career she’s built as the Puzzle Lady. In fact, few people know that her niece, Sherry, actually creates and solves the puzzles. When teen Peggy Dawson begs Cora to solve a mysterious crossword that some unknown person has sent to her, Cora enlists her friend Harvey Beerbaum, a real cruciverbalist, to help—but when they all get to the girl's house, the puzzle has vanished. Peggy goes to local police chief Dale Harper and harasses him until he agrees to find her puzzle. Harper sends deputy Dan Finley, who drags Cora along. Peggy’s brother, Johnny, refuses to let them search his room but soon phones the police to report that he's found not the puzzle but a bloodstained knife. The corpse who probably bloodied the knife is that of a construction worker staying in a motel near his job site. Cora’s happy days turn to dross when she spots Melvin Crabtree, the ex she loves to hate, claiming to be back in town to work with the realtor who employs Johnny Dawson, presumably on another of Melvin’s fake real estate scams. Johnny, arrested by the police, hires Cora’s clever lawyer friend Becky Baldwin, who quickly springs her client when Cora gets the coroner to admit that the time of death meant the knife couldn't have been the murder weapon. Turning on a dime, the police then arrest Melvin. More puzzles appear, including a sudoku that hints that Johnny is guilty. Once Cora learns that Melvin has a book contract to write an exposé about his life with the Puzzle Lady, she realizes that she must not only clear him, but do so in a way that forces him to keep her secret.

Using Hall’s trademark humor and panache, the Puzzle Lady (A Puzzle to Be Named Later, 2017, etc.) finds yet another clever way to get herself out of yet another tricky situation.

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-15520-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...


Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet