A Clue for the Puzzle Lady
by Parnell Hall
About: Cruciverbalists, rejoice! Pick up a pencil and get ready to solve a puzzling murder-and an actual crossword puzzle-in this sparkling debut of a unique amateur detective: Miss Cora Felton, an eccentric old lady with a syndicated puzzle column, an irresistible urge to poke into unsettling events, and a niece who's determined to keep her out of trouble.
When the body of an unknown teenage girl turns up in the cemetery in the quiet town of Bakerhaven, Police Chief Dale Harper finds himself investigating his first homicide. A baffling clue leads him to consult Bakerhaven's resident puzzle expert-his first big mistake. Soon Cora's meddling, mischief-making behavior drives Chief Harper to distraction and inspires many cross words from her long-suffering niece, Sherry. But when another body turns up in a murder that hits much closer to home, Cora must find a killer-before she winds up in a wooden box three feet across...and six down. (from Amazon)
My review: Well, this was not one of my favorite books. It is tough to like a book when you dislike the main characters. Cora is an alcoholic, and almost utterly useless. Her drunk antics were not funny, interesting or relevant to the story. Her niece Sherry comes across as being too big for her britches, and almost standoffish against Aaron Grant, the local reporter, who of course turns into her love interest - kinda, maybe. Poor police chief Harper is a bumbling loveable type - I kept picturing him as the police chief from the Simpsons.
The mystery itself was interesting - trying to figure out the link between the two people who were killed and what all of the clues meant. But the writing was stiff and the characters unlikeable, so I don't think I will be reading any more of this series.