A Clue for the Puzzle Lady

BOOK: A Clue for the Puzzle Lady
Raves for Cora Felton’s Debut
in Parnell Hall’s
A Clue for the Puzzle Lady



“The real lure here is the mystery, whose ingenuity takes quite unexpected forms en route to the final unmasking. HEAVEN FOR CROSSWORD FANS, who’ll rejoice over the solve-as-you-go puzzle!”

Kirkus Reviews

“CORA FELTON IS A DELIGHTFULLY DIFFERENT SORT OF SLEUTH—hardly the decorous, tea-sipping village spinster. In truth, she’s a hoot. I hope her niece can keep her out of too much trouble so that we can all savor future adventures of The Puzzle Lady.”

—Joan Hess, author of the Claire Malloy and Maggody mystery series

“Parnell Hall’s superb new series DAZZLES LIKE THE 4th OF JULY, CRACKLING WITH FUN WORDPLAY, more twists than a maze, and a clever, vulnerable, wild woman sleuth—Cora Felton, The Puzzle Lady. Sheer delight!”

—Carolyn Hart, author of the Death on Demand and Henrie O mystery series

“A twisting plot, an intriguing puzzle, and a surprisingly satisfying romance. THIS ONE IS HARD TO BEAT.”

—Janet Evanovich

“A fresh series with an engaging sleuthing duo … A LIGHT-HEARTED ROMP.”

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

“A fun and entertaining story to challenge all mystery readers … A great premise … lively characters, an intriguing plot and well written story.”


A Clue for the Puzzle Lady

Romantic Times

Bantam Books
by Parnell Hall

A Clue for the Puzzle Lady

Last Puzzle & Testament

Puzzled to Death

A Puzzle in a Pear Tree

With This Puzzle I Thee Kill

This edition contains the complete text of the original hardcover edition.

A Bantam Book

Bantam hardcover edition / 1999

All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1999 by Parnell Hall
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
For information address: Bantam Books.

eISBN: 978-0-307-77957-1

Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada

Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, New York, New York.


For Stanley,
who loved a good puzzle.

A Puzzle from the Puzzle Lady

I am pleased to be able to include the following crossword puzzle, compliments of the Puzzle Lady. Miss Felton and I hope you enjoy it.

A word of caution: Since solving the puzzle will identify the killer, you should not do so until after reading the book. You would probably not be able to anyway, as several of the clues are based on a knowledge of the story.

The answers may be found in the back of the book.

by Miss Cora Felton


1 Sonny, or lead singer of rock group mentioned on CRUCIVERB-L

5 Minimal lot size on Cold Springs Road

9 Operated

12 Sherry to Cora

13 Ed Sullivan’s really big ones?

15 Lounge or pony

16 Crime scene

18 Surprise attack

19 Open on the victim

20 A long time

21 A-frames, for instance

23 Deer

24 Very French

25 The 60s, e.g.

28 Foamy wave

32 Foe

33 Cereal

34 Soft drink

35 Early man

36 Fork end

37 Motel rental

38 Finish last

39 Skating locale

40 _______ off (repel)

41 Probable action of Barbara Burnside’s car

43 Pined for or played college prank

44 Skin rash or small dwelling

45 John Dickson

46 Ebert milieu

49 Single

50 Expire

53 Type of code

54 Graveyard Killer

57 What this book should be

58 Keen

59 Put up

60 Type of training

61 Shade of color

62 Night light



1 What Aaron wouldn’t dare call Sherry

2 All right

3 Shoes worn by murder victim

4 Number of shots fired

5 Not at sea

6 Intone

7 Guns the engine

8 Answer to 14) A

9 Surface left by Kevin Roth

10 “I Cannot tell____ ”

11 Gets sleepy

14 Entrapping

15 Chief Harper’s antagonist

17 Prepared

22 Wager

23 Murder weapon part

24 What Oscar winners seem obliged

to do

25 What Billy Spires undoubtedly offered

26 Bestow

27 Stop

28 What Johnnie done to Frankie

29 Schwarzenegger role

30 Not dead

31 Narrow on one end, wide on the other

33 Salt water

36 None of your business

40 Lesions

42 Vigor’s cohort

43 Fertilizer

45 Songwriter Leonard

46 Give a damn

47 Rages

48 Way to drink whiskey

49 Child’s building set

50 Hamlet, for one

51 “Do not go gentle____that good night”

52 Garden for 35 across

55 Tipped to show respect

56 Forbid


The first clue came with a corpse.

The body lay next to a gravestone in the Bakerhaven Cemetery.

Police Chief Dale Harper stood in the pouring rain and looked down at it with displeasure. What was a corpse doing in the cemetery? Chief Harper was not unaware of the humor in the question. A body in the cemetery—the press would have a field day. Chief Harper frowned and wiped the water off his face.

The body was that of a young girl in her late teens or early twenties. She was lying facedown with her head twisted to the side. Her left eye was open. Chief Harper wished he could close it. It was eight in the morning, he had barely had his coffee, and the sight of her made him queasy. What in the world was she doing there?

And why was she in the cemetery? If she’d only been on the other side of the fence, not a hundred yards away, she’d have been in the township of Clarksonville, and he wouldn’t have gotten the call that dragged him away from the breakfast table before his toast had even popped, on a rainy Monday morning the last day in May.

But, no, this corpse fell under his jurisdiction. The good citizens of Bakerhaven would expect him, as chief of police, to do something about it. It was up to him to find out who killed her and why. At the moment, he didn’t even know who she was.

“Never seen her before,” the caretaker said.

It was the fourth or fifth time he’d said so. A shriveled little man with a somewhat belligerent nature, Fred Lloyd had found the body when he’d arrived for work this morning. He’d driven in the gate, and his headlights had picked up the girl’s silhouette. He’d called the police station, the cop on duty had called the chief, and now Lloyd and Harper were standing together in the cemetery in a drenching rain.

“So you said.” Chief Harper knew he should interview Mr. Lloyd, but at the moment he couldn’t think of a thing to ask him. The guy had found the body, he’d never seen the girl before, and what else was there?

Chief Harper wasn’t entirely up on procedure because murders just didn’t
in Bakerhaven, Connecticut. Waterbury or Danbury, sure, those were big cities, they had their share of crime. Bakerhaven was one of those small, quiet, respectable towns where nothing much happened. There had not been a murder in Bakerhaven in the year and a half that Dale Harper had been chief. So he was not entirely sure what to do.

One thing he knew was he couldn’t touch the body until the medical examiner got there. The ambulance he’d called for had arrived, and the paramedics had confirmed what he already knew, that the girl was dead. But they couldn’t take her away until the medical examiner saw her, and Barney Nathan, the notorious stick-in-the-mud who served that function, was undoubtedly taking his own sweet time finishing up
breakfast before venturing out on a morning like this to stand in the cemetery in the rain. The paramedics had gone back to the shelter of their ambulance. Chief Harper hunched his orange slicker up over his neck, wished he were somewhere else.

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