Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Puzzle Lady vs. the Sudoku Lady-Parnell Hall

The Puzzle Lady vs. the Sudoku Lady
Parnell Hall
Minotaur, Jan 19 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312612184

In Japan, Minami “the Sudoku Lady” is shocked when an American pushes past her to number one on her country’s bestseller list. Stunned and ashamed by this dishonor that that some ancient New England crone Cora “The Puzzle Lady” Felton has moved ahead of her, Minami accompanied by her teenage niece Michiko comes to Bakerhaven, Connecticut to challenge the foreign upstart in a puzzler’s duel. Minami is unaware that Cora is the front for her shy recently married niece Sherry Carter who creates the crossword and sudoku puzzles.

Cora as the Wicked Witch of the West wants to ignore the Japanese diva, but Sherry persuades her otherwise. However, before the duel between the Japanese puzzle champion and her American rival can occur, Police Chief Harper informs the aunt and niece that Mrs. Ida Fielding was murdered, but not by her spouse who was in jail sleeping off a drunken binge and no puzzles to assist on the investigation. Harper wants Cora to help anyway because she is very good at finding clues. Minami sees them and follows them. As the two puzzle-makers compete, Minami is arrested for murder so her books move back to number one while Cora and Sherry try to prove the visitor is innocent and Michiko asks them to take their time so she can go mall shopping without adult supervision.

The latest Puzzle Lady tale is the usual enjoyable lighthearted whodunit in which the mystery takes a back seat to the cast. This time the aunt-niece relationship is double the fun as the Japanese equivalent to the Connecticut Yanks invades New England. With several Will Shortz sudoku and crossword puzzles included, readers who enjoy a fluffy entertaining cozy will want to watch the battle of the puzzle warriors with their nieces as their squires.

Harriet Klausner

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