This  Man Reads….

Is Parnell Hall’s Puzzle Lady Series Getting Better and Better?

A Puzzle to Be Named Later - Parnell Hall

A Puzzle to Be Named Later – Parnell Hall

Ok so maybe juts maybe Parnell Hall is not going to win any major literary awards for his Puzzle Lady series. But if you are looking for a fast, funny and just enjoyable read try a Puzzle Lady book! I admit I have not read even close to the majority of the book series. I usually just pick up one of them at the library when I need a laugh break from all the murder and mayhem that I read. And the latest one that I just finished A Puzzle to Be Named Later was a welcome break after the last few intense books that I’ve finished. Especially, Chris Carter’s I Am Death and of course the ongoing circus of the Trump Administration.

I first started reading the books of Parnell Hall way back in 1991 when I read my first Stanley Hastings mystery. Strangler, which was the fourth book in the series. Since then I have read all but two of the books in the now 20 book series. One of the books that I haven’t read is A Fool for a Client which is book 20 in the series. I totally missed the release of this one. But is now being held at my local branch of the Burlington County Library System. Anyway, the point is that I have always preferred Stanley over Cora but after reading more of the Puzzle Lady books, Cora is growing on me. Booklist writes this about Cora……

“If sweet-looking, gray-haired Miss Marple cursed, smoked, and carried a gun in her purse, she’d be a ringer for Cora Felton.”

About A Puzzle To Be Named Later

In A Puzzle to Be Named Later  Cora is once again in the middle of a Bakerhaven murder investigation. This time the murder revolves around an up and coming new star pitcher for the New York Yankees – Matt Greystone. After signing a huge contract Greystone, who came to the Yankees as a “player to be named later”, breaks his arm in an automobile crash.

Greystone moves to Bakerhaven to avoid the bright lights of  New York and rehab in peace. When a sleazy New York gossip columnist is found dead in Matt’s sauna, during a welcome to Bakershaven bash, Matt’s wife becomes the prime suspect. There is also a crossword puzzle found with the dead man. The solution to the puzzle says “you’ll find a surprise in the file of this guy”. That sends Cora onto the trail of the killer and she won’t stop to she finds out who did it!

Bottom Line:

The Cora Felton Puzzle Lady books are a fun and welcome change from gruesome murder mysteries. Parnell is a master of witty dialogue. He also is great at creating characters, who are foils for his lead characters. Cora Felton has two foils. First. Captain Harper of the Bakerhaven police. And secondly, Sargent Crowley of the NYPD. Cora’s relations with both policemen are some of the best parts of the books.

So let’s see A Puzzle to Be Named Later gets 5 stars for a fun character and snappy dialogue, 3 stars for artistic style i.e descriptiveness, creation of a sense of place, etc. Finally 4 stars for a twisty turning plot that kept my interest. Those twists never stopped until the last pages of the book.  Averaging those three ratings gives the book a solid 4 star rating.  That means that I really, really liked A Player to be Named Later.

Now i must admit that I am a lot like Cora Felton, when it comes to doing crossword puzzles. I don’t do them very well. In each book puzzles from Will Shortz provide clues to solve the mystery. I guess in one of these books, I really have to try to solve some of these puzzle. Does anyone else who read these books, do the puzzles? Just curious!

Links for the Further Exploration of the Books of Parnell Hall

Author’s Website