cover image Presumed Puzzled: A Puzzle Lady Mystery

Presumed Puzzled: A Puzzle Lady Mystery

Parnell Hall. Minotaur, $24.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-06123-2

Fans of clever wordplay will enjoy Hall’s 17th Puzzle Lady mystery (after 2015’s Puzzled Indemnity) starring Cora Felton, a feisty, lusty, oft-married but for the moment single lady, who fronts for her niece’s syndicated puzzle column—a secret known to only a few. When Bakerhaven, Conn., police chief Dale Harper and Cora follow up a missing-person report from Paula Martindale, whose husband, Roger, has failed to come home, they find the couple’s front door open, Paula holding a bloody knife, and Roger’s body on the floor. It’s hard to believe that Cora could end up a suspect in the killing, but in Hall’s capable hands evidence and clues (some provided by puzzles) serve to exonerate Paula and implicate Cora. Prosecutor Henry Firth is only too happy to swap prosecuting Paula for a chance to try Cora. The supporting cast, including lawyer Becky Baldwin and airhead TV reporter Rick Reed, play important parts, but it’s Cora’s bravura courtroom performance that provides this entry’s highlight. (Jan.)