Parnell Hall, And A Puzzle To Die On Reviews

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“And A Puzzle To Die On ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 01/09/2004

And A Puzzle To Die On
Parnell Hall
Bantam, Nov 2004, $24.00, 320 pp.
ISBN 0563802445

She is known as the puzzle lady but it is really her publicity shy niece who is the puzzle constructor. Cora's favorite pastime is solving real life murder mysteries, which is why she agrees to lawyer Becky Baldwin's proposition. Becky wants Cora to find out if convicted murderer Daryl Daigue really killed seventeen year old Anita Dryer two decades ago. Depending on what Cora digs up, Becky will decide whether she wants to take the case.

Sara visits Darryl in prison; he acts like a criminal but insists that he was working at the time Anita was killed and he was covering for Ricky Gleason, the actual killer. Before leaving the prison, Warden Profack subtly warns Cora not to work on Darryl's case. Sara find that admonition suspicious and keeps digging which leads to her being followed by a private detective who is murdered at Cora's birthday party. Later, someone throws a rock through her window and she is arrested for absconding with a toy poodle that belongs to a woman who was also murdered because she had something that the killer wanted. The truth about who hired Becky and the two murders comes out when Cora has her day in court.

AND A PUZZLE TO DIE ON is a deliciously convoluted amateur sleuth mystery in which everyone connected to the case has a hidden agenda. The protagonist is in fine form as she breaks into offices and homes, steals what turns out to be significant, winds up spending a night in jail, and refuses to conform to court etiquette. Parnell Hall has written a complex who-done-it that has the requisite number of red herrings and misleading clues.

Harriet Klausner

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