cover image Arsenic and Old Puzzles: A Puzzle Lady Mystery

Arsenic and Old Puzzles: A Puzzle Lady Mystery

Parnell Hall. Minotaur, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-60248-2

Feisty Cora Felton, who fronts as the Puzzle Lady for niece Sherry Carter, is at her cantankerous, obfuscating, trouble-stirring best in Hall’s delightful 14th Bakerhaven, Conn., romp (after 2012’s $10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles). When the body of an unidentified tourist is found at the bed-and-breakfast of elderly sisters Charlotte and Edith Guilford, police chief Dale Harper calls Cora for help with the sudoku puzzle in the tourist’s pocket. Cora is no good at puzzles, but quickly notices the smell of almonds, which suggests cyanide and thus foul play. As additional puzzles, bodies, and clues pile up, a connection to the 1944 Frank Capra film Arsenic and Old Lace becomes clear. Even more fun than the whodunit is the romantic confusion Cora sows among pretty lawyer Becky Baldwin; the Guilfords’ nephew, Alan; and Alan’s girlfriend, Arlene Winnington. (Jan.)