$10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles by Parnell Hall

$10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Cora and Sherry are back in $10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles, the thirteenth book in the Puzzle Lady series, though in this installment of the popular series, readers don’t see much of Sherry since she spends most of the book in the hospital giving birth to her first child.

Cora however is called away from the hospital by Sherry and Cora’s attorney friend Becky Baldwin. It seems that one of Becky’s clients needs to have blackmail ransom delivered and it needs to be Cora who does the drop. Because this is Cora (and because it’s a murder mystery) it should come as no surprise to readers that when Cora shows up at the drop site, the only person there is a dead body-with a Sudoku puzzle on him. As faithful readers know, this is good news for Cora because, in spite of her puzzle column in the paper, she can’t solve crosswords but she is a whiz at Sudoku. Unfortunately for Cora, a crossword puzzle shows up shortly in connection with the case. With Sherry, the real crossword guru otherwise occupied in the hospital, Cora finds herself in a tight spot.

Cora has grown over the course of this series. In the early books she was portrayed as a drunk. Fortunately, author Hall has allowed Cora to get her drinking under control and although she still manages to get herself into a number of scrapes, at least she’s aware of her choices, poor as they may be. Sometimes her past still comes back to haunt her. In this book her no good, lowlife ex-husband Melvin appears on the scene.

Fans of Puzzle Lady will be happy with this entry in the series. For those readers who have not yet enjoyed this comical series, it would not be impossible to enjoy this book as a first, but I would strongly urge that they read a couple of the very early books to understand the premise behind Sherry, Cora and the puzzles.

As with all of the books in the series, there are puzzles galore for the reader to solve-or not as the solutions appear a page or two later.

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