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A Puzzle to Be Named Later (Puzzle Lady) by Parnell Hall
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250061249
Date: 17 January 2017 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Cora Felton, the Puzzle Lady, is a Yankees baseball fan. She is overjoyed to meet pitcher Matt Greystone; he has just moved to Bakerhaven, Connecticut, where he will be recovering from a broken arm. Matt throws a bar-b-que at his house and invites all the Bakerhaven VIPs. The party ends in tragedy when notorious gossip columnist, Leon Bratz, is found dead inside the sauna. Soon afterwards, another corpse is found in the nearby woods. Matt is suspected of committing both murders. Cora Felton must exonerate him before he is permanently benched.

I don't particularly care for baseball, or any competitive sport for that matter. Fortunately, that didn't prevent me from enjoying Cora Felton's latest adventure in Parnell Hall's A Puzzle To Be Named Later. Not a single scene takes place at a baseball diamond. No one so much as throws a baseball. Matt could easily have been a football, basketball, or hockey player. Cora is her usual persnickety self who becomes entangled in all types of verbal sparring and bantering with the nove's other characters, primarily her niece Sherry Carter, Chief Dale Harper, and defense attorney Becky Baldwin.

Cora repeatedly commits the crime of B&E (Breaking and Entering) as she diligently searches the files, both electronic and hard copy, of various victims and suspects. Sometimes she narrowly escapes and sometimes she's caught red-handed. Her total disregard for the law doesn't surprise me. What surprised me was her affinity for the occult. One of the novel's most interesting characters is Amanda Hoyt; known as the town witch, she reads palms and tarot cards. In order to ferret out the murderer, Cora decides to imitate Amanda and host a sťance, which has some creepy results.

A Puzzle To Be Named Later is full of slapstick humor. Though I never laughed out loud, as I have done with some of M.C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin novels, I did chuckle. Never able to admit defeat, never able to admit she is wrong, Cora can sometimes be very annoying. What I liked most about A Puzzle To Be Named Later was not the humor but the mystery itself. Everyone, including Cora, the police, and myself, are truly stumped as to who entered the sauna and bashed in Leon's head with a stone.

Reading an advanced copy of Parnell Hall's A Puzzle To Be Named Later offered me a sweet distraction during the stressful hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I enjoyed reading about Cora Felton's interaction with her loving family, "watching" them grow and mature, especially her three-year-old grandniece, Jennifer, who is always repeating what the adults are saying. The mystery in small-town Bakerhaven sufficiently taxed my mind without overloading it. The killings were gruesome enough to satisfy my sweet tooth for gore. The humor and puzzles are always a sweet bonus for the palettes of fans who love Cora Felton. I can't wait for the next Puzzle Lady mystery, to be named later.

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