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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it's still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Puzzled to Death (Puzzle Lady Mysteries (Paperback)) Mass Market Paperback – August 27, 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
Book 3 of 16 in the Puzzle Lady Mysteries Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this third book of a well-received series (Last Puzzle and Testament, etc.), we have puzzles within puzzles in every sense of the word. Cora Felton, hailed as the "Puzzle Lady" for her prowess in constructing newspaper crossword puzzles, in truth knows nothing about crosswords. She receives the adulation of the puzzle world while her niece, Sherry Carter, does all the work. Cora's real love is solving murder mysteries in the Murder She Wrote vein. When the townspeople of Bakerhaven, Conn., decide to hold a crossword puzzle contest, after much debate over the propriety and usefulness of such a contest, Cora, who's cohost of the event, gets her chance to do some sleuthing. The town tart turns up dead on her kitchen floor, and soon two more murders follow. What ties all the murders together is that a crossword puzzle (or in one case, a doodle) is found with each body. The author provides us with two crosswords from the contest to solve, though these have only a tenuous connection to the murders. Poor Chief Harper of the Bakerhaven Police Department, Cora's foil, is somewhat befuddled ("Tell me again why she couldn't have done it," he asks her). Numerous suspects, both out-of-town contestants and locals, keep the action moving. The dust jacket, depicting a subtly sinister autumnal landscape with a crossword-grid sky, elegantly conveys the novel's contents.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Cora Felton, now of Bakerhaven, Connecticut, is known as the Puzzle Lady, and her smiling visage adorns her crosswords. In real life it is her niece, Sherry, who is the cruciverbalist (maker of crossword puzzles); Cora is much married and too chummy with the bottle, but she does have a nose for murder. When she's roped into hosting a charity crossword competition, she's terrified she'll be unmasked. Then the murder of a local woman who was cheating on her spouse, followed by the murder of the woman's nosy neighbor, becomes connected to the competition, and it takes all Cora's wiles to connect the clues. Sherry's relationship to the local newspaperman has some rocky if contrived moments. Although the crosswordiana remains engaging, the deadpan deception, the lighthearted trashing of suburbia, and Cora's personal flaws are wearing just a wee bit thin. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Puzzle Lady Mysteries (Paperback) (Book 3)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (August 27, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553581465
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553581461
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #746,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In cosmopolitan Bakerhaven lives renowned local celebrity Cora "the Puzzle Lady" Felton. Cora shares a home with her niece Sherry, who actually constructs the syndicated crossword puzzles. Cora does not have the slightest clue as to how to develop a crossword puzzle, but instead prefers applying her skills at solving homicides.

Bakerhaven hosts a charity crossword puzzle tournament and naturally everyone expects Cora to chair the event. The idea upsets Cora so much that she feels guiltily glad when someone kills Judy Vale. The prime suspect, Judy's spouse has an airtight alibi. When the victim's neighbor is also killed, Cora figures she has no time for across and down as she begins investigating a myriad of suspects with motives and opportunities.

A unique thing about a Parnell Hall tale is that the mystery is always interactive, as puzzles related to the plot are included throughout the story line. Each puzzle contains clues so that colorfully eccentric Cora and the audience can solve the who-done-it. Like it predecessors, PUZZLED TO DEATH adds an extra degree or two of fun to the mystery genre.
Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
Parnell Hall may be a candidate for an award in the most-unlikely-occupation-for-a-fictional-detective sweepstakes. Jockey detectives, bookstore-owner detectives, and gourmet-chef detectives pale by comparison to a bogus crossword puzzle-maven detective. His sleuth, Cora Felton, is a syndicated crossword puzzle composer -- or rather she poses as one. Her niece Sherry is the real composer; Cora just solves murders.
Cora is the best thing about this book. She is an unsentimental, tough-talking, hard-drinking, much-married old bird. The late Eileen Heckert would have been perfect to play her on screen. How she came to be the beloved Puzzle Lady is never explained.
Apart from Cora, "Puzzled to Death" is a pretty ordinary mystery. The locale is Bakerhaven Connecticut, as patently artificial as the village in Murder She Wrote. It boasts a daily newspaper, a paper mill, a medical examiner, two crossword puzzle experts, a passel of bed-and-breakfasts, but only one lawyer. All the residents seem to have surnames that originated in the British Isles; an unlikely circumstance even in the most remote corners of Litchfield County. Bakerhaven is about to host a charity crossword puzzle contest when a local housewife is murdered. Cora and the chief of police compete at solving the crime while most of the town is busy solving crossword puzzles.
Hall's dialogue is snappy and he offers some interesting insight into crossword puzzle composition and contests, but he violates the rules of the classical murder mystery in his denouement. My overall reaction is ehhhh!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Cora Felton has been tricked. Crossword puzzle creator Harvey Beerbaum has decided the two of them should host a charity crossword puzzle tournament. This would be a great idea except for one minor detail; Cora really isn't the creator of her puzzles. Her niece Sherry does that. Unfortunately, they can't think of a way out of it, so Cora must be very careful to not slip up and reveal the truth during the weekend.

The week of the tournament, a woman in town is murdered. The police are convinced her husband did it in a drunken rage until they discover his perfect alibi. Cora, however, isn't so sure his alibi is airtight and begins to poke around herself.

The first night of the tournament, another murder takes place. Is there a serial killer in town? How does it tie into the tournament? Will Cora keep her secret?

I must admit, I had my doubts at first. When the first murder took place, I didn't see how the tournament could possibly be involved. I thought it might turn out to be a sub-plot. But the further I read, the more important it became to the events of the story.

As with the first two books in the series, this one had a puzzling mystery. While the solution made perfect sense and I felt stupid for not considering it myself, Cora made quite a leap to reach the conclusion with only a shaky clue to lead the way. The story would have been stronger with more evidence to back up the solution.

Weaving through the book is the on-going storyline of Sherry's relationship with newspaper reporter Aaron Grant. I enjoy the characters, but feel that their relationship is a bit too high school. I'd like to think that grown adults would behave different then this. Still, I do get caught up in their struggles.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm puzzled that the author has enough following to continue this series. Maybe it's better to start with the first one, A Clue for the Puzzle Lady.

The main character, Cora Felton, and her niece failed to come alive for me. Cora seemed self-centered and fairly obnoxious while the niece (apparently the real puzzle lady) was pretty bland.

This episode involves several murders in their Connecticut town while a charity crossword tournament goes on. Some of the oddball character descriptions intrigue the reader and several crossword puzzles allow the reader to join in trying to solve the murder. (puzzle solutions are included in the book)

Overall, the mystery just lacked zip
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