Arsenic and Old Puzzles

Arsenic and Old Puzzles

A Puzzle Lady Mystery

Book - 2013
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The Puzzle Lady embarks on another adventure involving one classic movie and featuring new puzzles by Will Shortz

When an elderly boarder at a Bakerhaven bed-and-breakfast drops dead during afternoon tea, there's nothing particularly suspicious about it--except for the Sudoku in his jacket pocket. But when a second body turns up in the window seat and an autopsy shows both men were poisoned with elderberry wine, the Puzzle Lady suspects she's dealing with a cold-blooded killer who for some reason is copying the Cary Grant movie Arsenic and Old Lace, in which two old ladies who run a boarding house poison elderly widowers and bury them in the basement. More murders, more puzzles, and a grave dug in the cellar seem to cement the theory.

Ordinarily, Cora would eat a case like this for breakfast, but for once she can't figure it out. And she's not sure if the clues don't add up, or if the much-married Puzzle Lady is just distracted by being involved in her first romantic entanglement in years.

Arsenic and Old Puzzles is filled with laughs, mayhem, and fun new puzzles by Will Shortz. Mystery and puzzle fans will find much to enjoy in this latest treat from Parnell Hall.

Publisher: New York : Minotaur Books, c2013.
ISBN: 9780312602482
Branch Call Number: MYSTERY HAL
Characteristics: 308 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.


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May 16, 2019

Once again, a book with great reviews doesn't live up to the expectations. I found the story rather lacking in coherence and the protagonist, Cora, hard to believe. First of all, she is a fraud. She is known as "the puzzle lady" but in reality that is her niece's job. I could not understand why Cora was called by the Sheriff to help in solving a crime: how could a policemen let her put her hands on evidence - that she could not understand anyway - is beyond me. How old is Cora? Not clear, because the references to her age don't match with what she actually does. The finale was also rather strange: one of the rules of detective novels is that the reader must have the same clues of the investigator, but I didn't feel this was the case. I had the distinct impression that Cora (and the narrator) knew much more than the reader. There were several attempts to make the story humorous, but honestly I found the dialogues repetitive and overall boring. I was intrigued by the title's obvious reference to "Arsenic and Old Lace," but the story has very little to do with the play or the movie. So, I gave this book two stars and don't think that I am going to read other books in the series.

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