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Last Puzzle & Testament (Puzzle Lady Mysteries (Paperback)) Mass Market Paperback – August 28, 2001
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Cora Felton is the kind of dame your father might have called "a firecracker": a not-so-upstanding lady of a certain age who drinks her martinis by the shaker and delights in scandalizing not only the staid denizens of her cozy Connecticut village but also her niece Sherry, who's the private "ghost" behind Cora's public image as the Puzzle Lady. Even People Magazine, which has lined up an interview with Cora, believes the brazen old broad is the brains behind her phenomenally successful syndicated crossword puzzle column. Only Sherry and the ambitious young newspaper reporter who loves her know that Cora hasn't got a clue. Certainly, Emma Hurley didn't, which may explain why she left Cora in charge of sorting out her will, a puzzle wrapped in a 40-year-old enigma whose solution will earn one of Emma's heirs a vast fortune. The relatives are a motley lot, greedy and unappealing, but would any of them stoop to murder? When the bodies start piling up, it certainly looks that way, especially to Cora, who's better at judging human nature than word contests. While the answers to the crossword lead everyone else to the wrong conclusions, they point Cora and Sherry to the right ones and target a murderer in the process. The pace rollicks along nicely, the crossword's deceptively transparent, and this is a slight but charming little treat for the puzzle mavens on your Christmas list, especially those who've encountered Cora and Sherry in their first adventure, (A Clue for the Puzzle Lady). --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The second puzzle for Cora Felton (following A Clue for the Puzzle Lady) is even better than her clever debut. Although nationally syndicated columnist Cora is known as the "Puzzle Lady" to her Bakerhaven, Conn., neighbors, it's actually her brainy niece, Sherry Carter, who creates the famous crossword puzzles attributed to Cora. With a grandmotherly appearance that belies the oft married, cigarette-smoking, hard-drinking reality beneath, Cora fancies that her forte is solving mysteries. And Sherry's reticence and desire to shun the spotlight hides a puzzle constructor of the first rank. Their respective skills get a real test when wealthy, eccentric Emma Hurley dies and leaves a will that requires her potential heirs to compete in a puzzle-solving contest. She has furthermore appointed Cora final judge and arbiter. The assembled heirs-in-waiting are a motley lotAfrom obnoxious battling twins, Phyllis and Philip, to hermit-like Chester and disaffected young nephew Daniel. Reporter Aaron Grant returns as a romantic foil for Sherry, though things keep getting in the way of their budding amour. Edgar nominee Hall, a master of wordplay himself, has great fun as bloodletting and other forms of skullduggery complicate the search for clues and answers to a 40-year-old puzzle. The bantering affection between irrepressible Cora and shy Sherry, the antics of Emma's kin and a bit of murder and mayhem allow Hall to mask the puzzle's solution to the very end. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Parnell Hall's mysteries are complex enough to keep readers guessing and written with sufficient wit to keep them appreciative. ("Beasley's trip up the stairs was perilous at best. While he did not actually crawl, he did not actually walk, either.") The relationship between Cora and her niece in particular makes for pleasant reading. Hall might tone down Cora's self-destructive tendencies, however: that the grandmaternal "Puzzle Lady" is in reality so unlike her public persona is the principal joke of the series, but one worries about the effect of excessive smoking and drinking on her health. These are not charming or inherently amusing habits. One may note that Colin Dexter's Detective Morse likewise drinks to excess, but Morse's problems with alcohol are not, I think, milked for humor. Perhaps rather for pathos.
Crossword lovers and cozy fans--and readers of the Nero Blanc series of crossword mysteries in particular--will enjoy Hall's take on the amateur sleuth genre.
Reviewed by Debra Hamel, author of Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece
Most recent customer reviews
Slow things started happening and I wanted to solve the mystery in a...Read more