When young attorney Becky Balwin hires Cora Felton to accompany her to New York City to meet a new client in his penthouse apartment, the Puzzle Lady jumps at the chance. Cora is just coming off a bad breakup, and finding out that Chief Harper testified at a parole hearing for a killer she helped put away has her feeling old. But when she and Becky arrive at the apartment, they find the man is dead. There's a puzzle on his chest, and a prowler is searching the bedroom. Cora pulls her gun and gets off a shot as the intruder ducks out the window. The NYPD now think Cora is the murderer. Getting her off should be a breeze for Becky, but when the fatal bullet is too badly damaged to identify, Cora is lucky to get out on bail.
Meanwhile, a diabolical killer is leaving puzzle clues. If only they were just sudoku puzzles-Cora can't solve the crosswords without the help of her niece, Sherry, who's back in Bakerhaven taking care of her toddler. In order to clear her name, Cora must match wits with a gruff NYPD homicide sergeant who is quite attractive, except for the fact that he suspects her of murder.
NYPD Puzzle is a clever mystery, boasting madcap hijinks as well as fun puzzles. Mystery readers will thoroughly enjoy this latest from acclaimed author Parnell Hall.
About the Author
Edgar, Shamus, and Lefty finalist Parnell Hall is the author of the Puzzle Lady crossword puzzle mysteries, the Stanley Hastings private eye novels, and the Steve Winslow courtroom dramas. An actor, screenwriter, and former private investigator, Hall lives in New York City.
Parnell Hall is the co-author of the New York Times bestselling Teddy Fay thrillers. He is the author of the Puzzle Lady mysteries, the Stanley Hastings private eye novels, and the Steve Winslow courtroom thrillers. He is a Shamus Award winner, and has been nominated for the Edgar and the Lefty. He lives in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
“Want a job?”
Cora Felton eyed Becky Baldwin suspiciously. “What kind of job?”
“A little detective work?”
“Does it involve blackmail?”
“Does it involve my ex-husband?”
Cora rounded her lips, pointed at Becky. “Oooh. Nice shot. You are really getting quite accomplished. It’s hard to believe you’re only sixteen.”
Becky was in her late twenties; she only looked sixteen. Her long blond hair, angel face, and willowy figure belied the fact that she was an accomplished trial lawyer who deserved a wider practice. The only thing that held her back was the fact that Bakerhaven, Connecticut, had virtually no crime, aside from the occasional murder.
“Yeah, yeah,” Becky said. “And I could have had a wonderful career as an attorney if I only had the gumption to leave town.”
“Why don’t you?”
“I don’t want to work for a firm. I want to work for myself.”
“Yeah, but if there is no work—”
“There’s work. I have a case. You want in?”
“Is there a crossword puzzle involved?”
“You are the most suspicious person I ever met.”
“That’s an evasion.”
Cora despised crossword puzzles, a rather unfortunate situation for the nationally famous Puzzle Lady, whose benevolent, grandmotherly face appeared on a syndicated daily crossword puzzle and who hawked breakfast cereal to school children on television. She hated crosswords because she couldn’t do them. She was, in fact, a fraud, fronting for her niece. Sherry Carter originally dreamed up the idea as a means of hiding from her abusive ex-husband. Happily, that was no longer necessary; still, revealing to the puzzle-solving, breakfast-eating general population that the lovable icon they had been revering for years was actually the cruciverbal Milli Vanilli was not an option.
“There are no puzzles involved,” Becky promised.
“Your ex-husband Melvin is not involved,” Becky said. “As for the rest, I cannot be expected to keep track of all the men you might have married.”
“I haven’t married anyone in years,” Cora said.
“Really? Are you still seeing Barney Nathan?”
“He went back to his wife,” Cora said, not without a tinge of regret. Her affair with the married doctor had been her only serious entanglement in years. “I thought you knew that.”
Becky smiled. “Actually, I did.”
“Oooh,” Cora said. “The bitchy barb. Snidely done. I like that.”
“Thank you. Will you take the job?”
“Going to tell me who the client is?”
“Well, that’s a switch. Lately you’ve been holding out on me, keeping me in the dark, treating me as a second-class citizen.”
“Not this time.”
“I’m glad to hear it. What do you want me to do?”
“That’s what I’d like to know.”
Cora frowned. “I beg your pardon?”
“We’re meeting the client tomorrow. Assuming you’re in.”
“You haven’t met the client?”
“I’ve talked to him on the phone.”
“What did he want?”
“To meet me tomorrow.”
“If I killed you, it would be justifiable homicide. Why does the client want to meet you tomorrow?”
“That’s the beauty of the whole thing. I have no idea.”
“Then how do you know you need me?”
“I’m meeting the client tomorrow. I have no idea why. I want you there.”
“I want a witness.”
“That makes no sense. You can’t have a confidential communication in the presence of a third person. You’re a lawyer, you know that.”
“I may not want to have a confidential communication.”
“With your client?”
“He’s not my client until I say so.”
“He hasn’t hired you yet?”
“He thinks he has.”
“That’s not the point,” Cora said. “The point is, if he hasn’t hired you, he isn’t paying me.”
“When he hires me, he will.”
“And if he doesn’t hire you, I don’t get paid.”
“You’ll get paid.”
“I’ll pay you.”
Cora looked at her skeptically. “You’ll pay me to sit in on an interview with your client?”
“I’ve already pointed out why that’s a dumb idea. And you still want to do it. Let me see if I can figure out why.”
Cora whipped out a pack of cigarettes.
“You can’t smoke in here.”
“I can if I’m doing a job and not getting paid.”
“You’ll get paid.”
“Interesting,” Cora mused. “Why would you pay me money just to come to your office? Ah! That’s it! The meeting is not in your office.”
“Where is the meeting?”
“In New York City.”
Cora grinned. “Where in New York City?”
“That’s not what I meant. Are you meeting the client in his office at work?”
“You’re meeting the client in his apartment.”
“In the apartment he shares with his wife who isn’t home.”
“No, I believe he’s a bachelor.”
“And you’re meeting him in his bachelor apartment?”
“Actually, it’s a penthouse.”
“Ah! Of course! And what wonderful connotations that has—thank you, Bob Guccione.”
“Is that a problem?”
“Oh, why should that be a problem?” Cora said ironically. “Let me see if I understand this: A young man is attempting to lure you up to his apartment with the offer of a job. You want me along, not for my keen insight, my astute judgment of character, or my impressive detective skills. You want me along because I’m tough as nails and have a gun in my purse.”
“So?” Becky said. “What if I do?”
Cora smiled. “I like that.”
Copyright © 2014 by Parnell Hall
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Puzzle Lady Faces Her Craziest Killer Yet 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 the 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? Fans of the series will be delighted to find another wild romp with Cora and the rest of the gang. While some of the action takes place in New York City, there is still plenty that takes place back in Bakerhaven, so we see most of the recurring characters, at least in cameos if not in larger rolls. The plot contains lots of events but not many clues to follow. Then again, that is part of the mystery, and the characters complain about it multiple times. And yes, there are the puzzles. We’ve got several crossword puzzles and two Sudoku to solve along the way. All in all, this is another fun book that will keep fans turning pages. If you enjoy the series, don’t miss it.
It would not be a Puzzle Lady Mystery unless Cora Felton gets herself into a most outrageous situation. And in this latest entry in the series, she outdoes herself. It begins when her attorney, Becky Baldwin, asks Cora to accompany her to meet a new client in his bachelor apartment in New York City. When they get there, they find a body on the floor, shot and killed. Cora checks out the rest of the apartment and finds a stocking-masked perpetrator in the bedroom. She pulls out her gun and tells him to freeze. Instead he jumps out a window and she fires at him, missing. And when the cops arrive, of course she is found holding the proverbial smoking gun. Cora is arrested, but is released when Becky points out that a comparison of Cora’s gun and the slug in the victim wouldn’t match. Meanwhile, a crossword puzzle left on the corpse provides the first clue. That is the beginning of a series of crossword and sudoku puzzles spanning the novel, leaving clues of a sort along he way. A Puzzle Lady Mystery is always good for an amusing read, as well as for an intriguing plot. Cora’s wacky dialogue and behavior certainly adds to the zest of each story. And “NYPD Puzzle” keeps up the reputation of the series. Recommended.
But all series usually mess with the receipe to keep readers interested can put the loyal fan off not quite to my taste biska