cover image $10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles: A Puzzle Lady Mystery

$10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles: A Puzzle Lady Mystery

Parnell Hall. Minotaur, $24.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-60247-5

In Hall’s well-plotted if padded 13th mystery featuring PI and puzzle lady Cora Felton (after 2011’s The KenKen Killings), lawyer Becky Baldwin persuades Cora to deliver a blackmail payment, in the amount stated in the book’s title, on behalf of an unnamed client. When Cora opens the lid of the Dumpster at the abandoned gas station where she’s to make the drop, she finds a man inside, shot in the temple. A piece of paper protruding from the dead man’s pocket turns out to be, no surprise for this puzzle-themed cozy series, a sudoku. In the subsequent murder investigation, Cora and friends rehash events at length and bicker to the point where the reader has to wonder if they really care about solving the crime. At one point Brookhaven, Conn., police chief Dale Harper asks Cora to answer “in simple, declarative sentences.” Cora’s evasive, bantering replies may exasperate those who aren’t already Hall fans. (Jan.)