When the Puzzle Lady’s framed for murder, she needs all her talents—which don’t include constructing crossword puzzles—to keep herself out of jail.
A nervous housewife asks Cora Felton, who fronts for her publicity-shy niece Sherry, to create a puzzle that will placate her husband over a dent in their car’s fender. So Cora sets Sherry to work. But Sherry, beset with problems with her current fiancé and her abusive ex, simply modifies a puzzle created by another cruciverbalist. The grateful housewife sends it to the paper as proof of Cora’s kindness, only to get her sued by Benny Southstreet, the original constructor. In addition to defending herself, Cora also gets involved in a search for some chairs stolen from Mr. Wilbur, a local antiques dealer. When Cora gets a friend with similar chairs to offer them for sale on eBay, they too are stolen. Discovering them in Benny’s motel room, she takes some photos and then the chairs. Right on cue, Benny is shot dead. Because the gun found in the room has her prints on it and her own photos prove she was on the scene, the police arrest Cora. Not one to let herself be pushed around, she goes into action and unmasks the killer at a town meeting.
Miss Marple on steroids. Cora (Stalking the Puzzle Lady, 2005, etc.), one tough cookie, provides amusing fodder for crossword fans.