Cruciverbalists, rejoice!!! Pick up a pencil and get ready to solve the puzzle--and a puzzling murder--in this lively debut of a unique amateur detective, Miss Cora Felton, the reigning queen of crosswords. Cora's an eccentric old lady with a nationally syndicated puzzle column, an irresistible urge to poke into unsettling events, and a niece who's determined to keep her out of trouble. In a slyly amusing and wickedly suspenseful mystery, this delightful heroine takes her first crack at playing sleuth. Only this isn't fun and games....It's murder.
Violent crime is rare in tiny Bakerhaven. When the body of an unknown teenage girl turns up in the local cemetery, Police Chief Dale Harper finds himself investigating his first homicide. Nothing about this case is straightforward. Even a thorough search of the crime scene fails to reveal who she was, the murder weapon, or why the killer left her body in a graveyard minus her shoes. A cryptic message on a scrap of paper she carried seems to be a crossword puzzle clue. Could it have been left by the killer? If so, what does it mean?
Fortunately for Harper, Bakerhaven is the new home of Miss Cora Felton, the famed "Puzzle Lady" herself, whose popular crossword puzzle column graces newspapers nationwide. Yet bringing Cora Felton into this case could be his most costly mistake. For though she may look like someone's sweet old grandmother, behind those twinkling eyes and that slightly mysterious smile lies a woman with a whopping secret...and some hidden vices. What's worse, one whiff of mystery turns Miss Felton into a modern-day Miss Marple.
Now Cora is snooping through crime scenes, questioning witnesses, and gaining a lot of unwanted attention. It's just the sort of meddling, mischief-making behavior that drives Chief Harper to distraction and inspires many cross words from her long-suffering niece Sherry. But when another body turns up in a murder that hits much closer to home, Cora must find a killer--before she winds up in a black box three feet across...and six down.
A delicious brew of colorful characters, irresistible intrigue, and dazzling plot twists, Parnell Hall's A Clue for the Puzzle Lady is just what a mystery should be--a generous helping of fun and a puzzle that never fails to surprise and entertain.
Hall, best known for his Edgar-nominated Stanley Hastings series, begins a new series with a heroine who provides an interesting variation on the older woman sleuth. Imagine Miss Marple as a promiscuous lush, and you have Cora Felton, known to crossword puzzle buffs around the country as "The Puzzle Lady." Cora and her niece, Sherry Carter, have moved to the small town of Bakerhaven, Conn., hoping to protect Sherry from an abusive ex-husband. The body of a young girl is discovered in the Bakerhaven Cemetery, and Police Chief Dale Harper investigates, though he wishes the body had been found in someone else's jurisdiction. An enigmatic clue in the victim's pockets takes Chief Harper in search of assistance, and he gets more than he needs from Cora, who's determined to help solve the puzzle. A second murder complicates the case, and overly zealous cub reporter Aaron Grant spills the news to the public about the cryptic clues. In addition to his trademark zippy, witty dialogue, Hall provides a dandy puzzle, congenial secondary characters, plenty of laughs and a true original in Cora Felton, the Puzzle Lady.