Cora Felton, known to the world as the kindly, elderly puzzle lady, is in a tizzy because shes been asked to cohost a celebrity crossword tournament for charity. She may be elderly but she is definitely not kindly. As for being the puzzle lady, its a well kept secret that its really her young niece, Sherry Carter, whos the mastermind behind the puzzles.

Cora, of course, immediately manages to offend all and sundry. Things pick up a little when a murder occurs, for this is the sort of puzzle Cora can get into. Besides, its an excellent opportunity to drive the local police chief crazy. When two more murders occur, all connected to the crossword contest, Cora has to use all of her wits to find the killer.

Irony and wry humor add spice to PUZZLED TO DEATH. Everything that marks the traditional mystery is here, including the essential gathering of the suspects at the end, but purists might find the solution to the murders a bit on the non-traditional side. (Nov. 352 pp., $23.95)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg