Friday, March 13, 2015

Book Review: Puzzled Indemnity by Parnell Hall (Puzzle Lady #16)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Good, puzzling story, fun word play
Cons: As always, characters could be stronger
The Bottom Line:
Is wife in danger?
Word play helps tell good story
A light and fun read

Is a Murder Being Plotted?

Despite my lack of interest in puzzles, I find myself enjoying the Puzzle Lady series.  Part of it is because Cora, the main character, actually can’t solve crossword puzzles either.  That opens the books up to the rest of us right there.  But I also love the word play between the characters.  That was on fine display in Puzzled Indemnity, the latest in the series.

The winter blues have definitely hit Cora Felton, and she is anxious to find anything she can to get her out of the house.  Unfortunately, the town of Bakerhaven is having an unusually quiet spell when it comes to crime.  The only crime is a robbery of the local liquor store by someone in an Iron Man mask.

Then lawyer Becky Baldwin gets a new client who wants her husband followed to see if he is having an affair.  Even worse, this client thinks that her husband has taken out a life insurance policy on her with a healthy double indemnity clause.  Naturally, Becky turns to Cora to conduct the surveillance.  Almost immediately, Cora finds the proof she’s looking for.  However, the wife hesitates when confronted with the truth.  And then things really explode.

Now if you do love crossword puzzles, you’ll be delighted to learn that there are three puzzles that pop up over the course of the book that play a part in the story.  For the rest of us, just keep reading and they will be solved within a few pages for us.  There is also a Sudoku involved.  Now you might think that the criminals in Bakerhaven would have learned to stop leaving puzzles to get Cora involved in their crimes, but don’t think too hard.  It spoils the premise of the series.

As much as I enjoy this series, the entries can be hit or miss.  This is definitely a strong one with a plot that takes some interesting twists along the way to the solution.  The ending is a bit rushed, but it does all make sense if you read it carefully enough.

Even after so many books, it’s hard to call these characters fully developed.  However, they are interesting enough to make us care about the outcome, and that’s the case again here.  And there is an interesting development in Cora’s life that I picked up on early into the book.

The real star here is the banter and word play, and that’s in fine form.  However, it never tries to take over the story (like it does in some books), but instead amuses us as it advances the story.

Because of the banter and the short chapters, this book is a very fast read.  The pages always fly by in this series, and this book is no exception.

So don’t pick up Puzzled Indemnity when you are looking for something serious or weighty.  But if you want a grin or two and are looking for a good puzzle, you’ll find it here.

Want to read Cora's earlier adventures?  Here are the Puzzle Lady Mysteries in order.

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