Through the years one of my favorite mystery series has been Parnell Hall’s Stanley Hasting mysteries. Looking at my Goodreads bookshelf I see, that there are 18 books in the series. and I have read all but one of them!! (Note to self read Caper – damn I thought I did??) That is not the case with Hall’s Puzzle Lady series, there are 15 books in that series, of which I have read 3.(1,8,&15) No. 15 is NYPD Puzzle and it is book 11 for 2014.
Now, as to why I have not read more of the Puzzle Lady books, I really can’t say. The reason may be that I felt resentful that Parnell forgot about Stanley and preferred the Puzzle Lady, Cora Felton! Between 1987 and 1998 Hall wrote 13 Stanley Hastings mysteries. The first Puzzle Lady book appeared in 1999 and there has been a new one every year in the 2000s, while there has been as many as 4 years between Hastings mysteries!! Now as far as Parnell Hall is concerned it may just be that the Puzzle Lady is more popular than Stanley and makes more money for Mr Hall!! Which is exactly why Linwood Barclay abandoned Zack Walker in favor of stand alone thrillers, which I now concede are better. But what do I know….
“The newest entry in the lovable Puzzle Lady series does not disappoint. Like those before it, NYPD Puzzle is easy to read thanks to Hall’s writing style, intriguing characters and, once again, integrated word and number puzzles that add to the fun.”—RT Book Reviews
Anyway, NYPD Puzzle is a quick fun cozy mystery. The mystery starts when Becky Baldwin Cora’s attorney hires Cora to come with her to New York to meet a new client. Upon arrival, they find the new client dead with a crossword puzzle on his chest! Cora hears the killer in the bedroom, enters the room, sees the killer, shoots, misses, killer escapes out the window of a penthouse apartment, and Cora is left holding a smoking gun! Is it the murder weapon!! No – the bullets won’t match – what? The murder bullet is too badly damaged, the police can’t say that the bullet didn’t come from Cora’s gun!! Oh, my??
So Cora,NYC Sergeant Crowley, and others set out to find the real killer, who is now playing a game cat and mouse with Cora and the law, between NYC and Cora’s home in Bakerhaven, leaving crossword puzzles ( by the way Cora can’t solve crossword puzzles) and even some Suduko (all designed by Will Shortz). There are several twists and turns (and another body Bakerhaven’s Town Clerk- what Cora had an argument with her)- as Cora tries to clear her name, and catch the killer! Cora is a fun character, always providing a wise crack for every occasion! And while Sergeant Crowley and Chief Harper of Bakerhaven, fight over protecting Cora…. Cora’s not worried because she has her guns!! But will they be enough!!
Finally Parnell Hall shares some thoughts about what an author has to do…….