Crossword puzzle creator Sherry Carter is doing double duty as maid of honor. Her aunt, Cora Felton, the public face of the Puzzle Lady (though she knows nothing about crosswords) is getting married again, to Raymond Harstein III, a purported successful hotelier. And so is Sherry's best friend, Brenda—to Sherry's abusive ex, Dennis.

But before anyone can say 'I do,' Raymond is slain, after Cora receives threatening coded messages warning her against marrying him. Could Dennis have killed him? He was found standing over the body, holding the murder weapon in his hand. And just how much did Raymond's drugged-out hippie neighbors see of the comings and goings at Raymond's home?

Sometimes quirky, always suspenseful, Hall's latest is a crafty mix of zany characters and murder. Cora is an excellent sleuth, proving again that she can solve a crime with a little creative analysis of her own. The manner in which she exposes the true murderer is as comical as it is revealing. (Dec., 384 pp., $23.95)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick