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The Kenken Killings by Parnell Hall

This “Puzzle Lady Mystery” sets puzzle columnist, Cora Felton against her former husband, Melvin Crabtree. Melvin attempts to get a court judgment that will remove the alimony payments to Cora because Cora has taken a bequest as the wife of another man.

In a rather ingenious defense her attorney, Becky Baldwin, convinces the court that Melvin’s evidence is flawed… and his witnesses become dead shortly after they testify. Cora sets out to prove that Melvin did not kill his witnesses, and neither did she.

She solves the mystery by solving (or having her niece solve) a series of kenken number puzzles paired with traditional word puzzles. Crossword and soduku fans will enjoy working on these puzzles as they read the book.

Cora is a very colorful, and not very likeable person. She lies about evidence in order to keep from being accused herself. She has lied for years about her ability to create puzzles. It is her niece, Sherry Carter, who is the actual puzzle maker. Cora is not very nice to other people. She is completely self-centered. Despite these flaws, she gets into such fantastic messes that it is fun to find out how she gets herself out of these situations. The dialogue is also snappy making for a fast and enjoyable read.

Liz Nichols

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