Saturday, February 1, 2014

Book Review: NYPD Puzzle by Parnell Hall (Puzzle Lady Mysteries #15)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: More crazy fun with Cora
Cons: Plot and characters a little weak
The Bottom Line:
Solve the puzzles and
See Cora catch a killer
Still plenty of fun

Trips to New York City are Murder

I’m not a fan of crossword puzzles.  And yet I keep reading the Puzzle Lady Mysteries because I enjoyed the banter between the characters.  They are light, fun reads, and NYPD Puzzle, the latest, is no exception.

When attorney Becky Baldwin gets a new client who wants to meet at his bachelor penthouse in New York City, she’s concerned.  So she hires Cora Felton, the renowned Puzzle Lady, to accompany her and act as her body guard.  However, when they arrive, they find the client murdered, a crossword on his body, and a man in the bedroom robbing a safe.  Cora exchanges shots with the burglar, but he escapes and Cora finds herself the chief suspect in the murder.

Thanks to some fast talking, Cora and Becky head home only to discover that someone is following them.  And the puzzles keep coming.  Can Cora figure out what the heck is going on?

The banter between the characters can at times veer off into the characters talking past each other and get annoying.  Fortunately, that only happened for a scene or two here.  Instead, I was able to enjoy the quick wit of the characters as they try to figure out what the heck is going on.

Now fans of the series need not worry about missing series regulars since the action starts in New York City.  Yes, a portion of the book takes place there, but there is still plenty of action back in Bakerhaven, and all the major characters are still present – and many of the minor ones make an appearance as well.  They are more caricatures than fully formed characters, but they are developed enough to be fun to be around and to make us care about the story.

Speaking of story, the plot in this one is made up of events that Cora can’t seem to connect.  Just as I was getting frustrated with the lack of forward movement, the characters started to comment on that as well.  That made me feel much better because I figured it they could complain about it I was in good company.  While never as strong as I prefer my mysteries, it still did reach a logical and suspenseful conclusion.

Which brings us to the puzzles.  There are several crossword puzzles and two Sudoku that play a part in the story.  You can solve them yourself, but if you like me you don’t care that much, you can just keep reading and wait until the characters solve them for you.  Fortunately, that usually happens fairly quickly since these puzzles are part of the story.

With the last book, I wasn’t happy with a certain sub-plot involving Cora’s personal life.  Things have been resolved to my liking this time around, so I’m happy.

I always enjoy spending some time with Cora and the gang, and NYPD Puzzle provided another great opportunity to do that.  If you enjoy puzzles or wit, check out this fun series.

And if you want to start from the beginning, check out The Puzzle Lady Mysteries in order.


  1. A cozy series based on crossword puzzles -- interesting! I haven't heard of this author or series; thanks for bringing him (her?) to my attention.

    BTW, have you ever read Dorothy Sayers' short story, "The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager's Will"? It's a Lord Peter Wimsey story that completely depends on a crossword puzzle, which you can of course try to solve yourself. Lots of fun, and as fiendishly clever as you would expect from Sayers.

    1. I hadn't heard of that story, but I guess it shows there are no new ideas, just new execution. I'll have to look into it.