Read this for my mystery book club It was mildly amusing, but I wouldn t deliberately seek out another title in this series I learned a new word cruciverbalist That is someone who makes crossword puzzles. This was a fun mystery overall, Cora the Puzzle Lady got to run amok than usual She even had a judge enthralled by her antics of zero legal knowledge just orneriness in battling a simple charge and preliminary hearing I wasn t so happy with the resolution itself, which was explained twice But I am super looking forward to reading the next book I need Sherry and her beau and their lover s verbal sparring. Cora Felton, the eccentric Puzzle Lady, is up to her old tricks again Along with her brainy niece Sherry, the unlikely crime solving duo match wits with a killer hiding behind an unsolved puzzle twenty years old Lately the biggest mystery is how many candles to put on the cake of Bakerhaven s favorite puzzle lady That is until Cora s birthday wish is granted a juicy case filled with sex, scandal, and mayhem Too bad it s two decades old and already solved Darryl Daigue is serving a life sentence for one of the most heinous murders in town history But his story leaves room for doubt and might even point to the real killer Enlisting the help of her reluctant niece Sherry, Cora delves into a case as ominous as the crosswords arriving in her daily e mail When her 1 suspect turns up dead and another corpse quickly follows, Cora s certain the clues spell murder any way you look at them Someone is clearly willing to kill and keep killing to stop her from solving this murderous conundrum Can Sherry keep her feisty aunt alive to see her next birthday back coverAnd Cora is nothing if not feisty And nuts Half a block away from the house, Cora cut her lights, pulled to the curb, and got out She walked up next to the black sedan, rapped on the window.A flat faced man with a broken nose and cauliflower ears looked surprised as hell to see her You throw a stone through my window Cora asked.The squahed in face gawked Naw, I didn t think so You got your job Cora pointed to the house Just a hint She s in pajamas and robe and she s not going out If you re getting paid by the hour don t let me rain on your parade But I promise you, nothing s happening tonight Cora beamed at the discomfited private eye, and walked back to her car If that s not chutzpah, I don t know what is When the best things about the book are the actual word puzzles sprinkled throughout you know you re in trouble As a word puzzle fan I had high hopes for this, but it just didn t deliver on any level The plot was so convoluted that even the reveal had me crossing my eyes The dramatic courtroom scene was ridiculously unrealistic I wanted to skim but couldn t because I knew I would miss something important And I really did not like the heroine Cora at all I think I was supposed to find her endearingly feisty and eccentric All I saw was rude, coarse, obnoxious, and apparently totally unfazed about breaking any and all laws she found temporarily inconvenient I ll never know if this was just a weak entry in the series as I never intend to read another one.My recommendation Skip it My mother gave me this book recently for no particular reason, and I promise you I would never have read it otherwise There s not much to say about it It s a mystery, in a series where the gimmick is that an elderly lady is famous in her small town for being The Puzzle Lady a successful crossword constructor But the real constructor is the Puzzle Lady s niece, and the elderly lady is just a young acting grandma with a sharp mind and a smart mouth and a penchant for solving crimes.The book is peppered with real crossword and anacrostic puzzles to be solved I m sure someone is geeking out on this somewhere I confess even I enjoyed the concept, and completing the puzzles The mystery itself however left me completely cold The plot is too convoluted to be engrossing in the end when the reveal comes it s tedious and barely makes sense Then the denouement drags on for an extraneous boring chapter I also didn t care about any of the characters, and didn t like the Puzzle Lade herself very much She seems like a receptacle for a lot of worn out cliches and a lot of jokes I never found to be funny the first time around let alone the fiftieth She s an old lady but likes to drink and party and act young and gasp talks about sex She doesn t understand those new fangled internets but she s still smart, young lady She s been married 7 or 8 times yawn There was also a painful amount of lawyers and other people overusing the legal doublespeak to confuse opponents and each other and the reader and a completely inane court scene that was beyond unrealistic And perhaps most obnoxiously, here and there were sort of almost but not at all touching moments where a character hints at a past alcohol problem, or a lost love, or something not explained enough for the reader to reallyt care about I feel strangely guilty panning a book that was a gift, from my mother no less who knows I like crossword puzzles and was only being thoughtful But there it is People who suck down 3 mystery paperbacks a day may like this book than I did, because I m assuming their tastes are less discerning They ll especially like it if they also like puzzles The only thing I can say in this book s favor is that I m sure that if ever one book in the series should go meta and turn the tables on the Puzzle Lady and her niece to where the puzzles in the book are giving clues to the mystery itself that could be cool and will no doubt be a high point in the series I suspect it would either be used as the first book in the series, or as the major turning point last book But even so, I would predict that it could be a lot cooler than it will most likely prove to be in execution. 3 Good Puzzle Lady Cora Felton is hiding from her birthday by digging into a 20 year old murder Why is someone interested in the case now Is the real killer behind bars The plot contains plenty of twists, but I felt the ending was overly convoluted There was plenty of word play, which is why I read the series, so I loved that Those who read for the cross word puzzles might be disappointed to learn they are unrelated to the mail plot Personally, that didn t bother me.Read my full review at Carstairs Considers. When Nerdy Cruciverbalist Harvey Beerbaum Throws A Birthday Bash For Cora Felton At The Bakerhaven Library, It S No Surprise That The Centerpiece, A Huge Cake Decorated Like A Crossword Puzzle, Is A Complete Bust Until A Corpse Thrown From The Second Floor Stacks Hits It Dead Center And Fills In Down Cora May Hate Birthdays Almost As Much As She Hates Crossword Puzzles But When It Comes To Solving Crimes, No One Can Hold A Candle To The Puzzle Lady Normally detective characters are sometimes pushy and determinedly track down clues with ways that may or may not be the most legal But is there anyone s house this lady didn t break into I found the main character, Cora, to be a bit frustrating She kept going about her own way doing what she wanted no matter what anyone else said even her lawyer Sure finally at the end things maybe sorta fell into place but this wasn t my favorite story for sure. Admirable entry in Hall s series featuring a feisty elder who is having a birthday she doesn t care to recognize even though she receives crossword puzzles from famous puzzle writers giving her clues to solve the latest mystery Fun read.