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Sinister Sudoku: A Sudoku Mystery by Kaye Morgan
Cover Artist: Trisha Krauss
Review by Paul Haggerty
Berkley Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425223062
Date: 05 August 2008 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Liza Kelly is doing what she loves best, teaching others the joy of the Sudoku game. Of course the setting of her class, Seacoast Correctional Facility, is a not where one might expect to find Sudoku classes. But then again, what have these guys got to do with their time? And many of them are actually quite good at it. Including one promising young man that's about to be released after more than a decade, for the high crime of art theft. Of course what's kept him there so long isn't the crime; it's the fact that he still won't tell anybody where the painting is. But life outside of prison can be even more dangerous than inside, as the art thief discovers … or perhaps I should say, as Liza discovers, along with the thief's body in a local inn. The problem is that there are a half dozen people that wanted that painting, and none of them are playing games; Sudoku or otherwise.

Sinister Sudoku is the third Sudoku Mystery staring Liza Kelly, former Hollywood publicist, and current Sudoku superstar of the Pacific Northwest. While she may have changed her life in order to remove the stress and expectations of a high-powered job, destiny had other plans. Liza really wants nothing more than to do her job at the local paper, and find out which of the two men in her life is the one she wants to keep around. She wants nothing to do with murders or any other kind of crimes, or investigations of any sort. After all, that's what the police are for. But the deceased turns out to be the brother of Liza's neighbor, Mrs. Halvorsen. And since he died being the only person who knew the whereabouts of a multimillion dollar painting, that means everyone's attention is now focused on Mrs. Halvorsen. And so, once again, Liza is forced into an investigation, definitely against her better judgment.

Liza Kelly has a slightly better relationship with the local police than many amateur detectives. Sheriff Clement knows full well that he lacks the manpower to follow-up on every lead, and Liza has proven herself to not only be extremely clever, but more than willing to phone him up and let him know every time she runs across a clue. That doesn't mean the Sheriff is necessarily happy having a private citizen involved, but Liza has proven herself worthy of a measure of trust. This gives her access to information she couldn't otherwise get, and the Sheriff doesn't end up looking like a fool when the amateur reveals the whole plot at the end. Of course, the fact that these mysteries all revolve around clues found in Sudoku puzzles may strain credulity just a tad, but it all makes sense in the context of the stories, and the suspension of disbelief isn't hard to come by.

And, as with the previous novels, at the end of the book is a Sudoku essay by Liza K herself, this time on how to create a puzzle. Fans of Sudoku should definitely take a look at this interesting twist on their normally bloodless pastime.

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