A Puzzle in a Pear Tree (Puzzle Lady Mysteries (Paperback))
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The Chicago Sun-Times crowns Parnell Hall’s Puzzle Lady mysteries “a joy for lovers of both crosswords and frothy crime detection...Cora Felton is a lovable and unique sleuth.” Now the crime-solving powers of the inimitable Cora and her clever niece, Sherry Carter, are put to the ultimate test as they square off against a yuletide killer who hides within the white-and-black shadows of an acrostic....
A Puzzle In A Pear Tree
’Tis the season to be jolly, but Cora Felton, shanghaied into “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as a most reluctant maid-a-milking, has every right to feel like a grinch. When someone steals the partridge from the pear tree and replaces it with a cryptic puzzle she has no hope of solving, it’s almost more than the Puzzle Lady can bear. But then smug crossword creator Harvey Beerbaum solves the acrostic, and it turns out to be a poem promising the death of an actress. This is more like it! Could the threat be aimed at Cora and her thespian debut? Or at Sherry, one of the ladies-dancing? Or at Sherry’s nemesis, the pageant’s predatory lead, Becky Baldwin?
Cora and Sherry barely have time for a mystery, what with trimming Christmas trees and buying Christmas presents, but rehearsals go on, under police protection--until a killer strikes elsewhere in a most unexpected manner.Ordinarily Cora Felton would be delighted to have two murders to solve. But this time she finds herself vying with a visiting Scotland Yard inspector who appears to have an all-too-personal stake in solving the crimes. Cora does too when her own niece becomes a prime suspect and the murderer strikes again.
Is someone trying to shut down the Christmas pageant? Cora would be only too happy if that were the case, but she fears the secrets lie deeper. Now she is interviewing witnesses, breaking into motel rooms, finding evidence, planting evidence, and having a merry old time. In fact, she would be perfectly happy--if this wasn’t turning out to be a Christmas to die for!
From the Hardcover edition.
them, tidily labeled ALCOHOLIC and NONALCOHOLIC. Despite Cora’s fears, more than a dozen guests were already there. Standing by the punch bowl was a beefy man with a jowled face, bald head, and enormous muttonchop sideburns. They were long, thick, and bushy, as might have befitted a Dickens scholar, a Dickens character, or even Dickens himself. He clutched a martini glass in a meaty hand that would have looked more fitting with a tankard of ale. He gestured with it as he talked, as if driving
have our set. We have all our props. And we have all our actors. Do we not? Group leaders, are we all here?” “I’m missing a drummer,” Aaron Grant said. “That’s right. Dick Larson called in sick. Which, just so you know, on performance night you do not do. There is a tradition in the Theater. The show must go on. If you have measles, wear makeup. If you have fever, bundle up and try not to breathe on your neighbor. If you are coughing, gargle a full bottle of cough suppressant, and clamp your
apologetically, “No shoes.” Cora bristled. Doddsworth was wearing shoes. Cora was wearing fur-lined slip-on boots. She stopped, yanked them off, padded across the gym in her stocking feet. “I notice you’re still poking holes in the gym floor,” she observed. “Does the height make any difference?” “Not for Dan. It might if we had an expert.” “Well, there you are,” Cora said. “Have a dart-blowing contest, and arrest the winner.” “Most amusing, Miss Felton,” Doddsworth said. “Have you any
amusing, but frankly I feel like the whole world’s picking on me.” Cora put her arm around Sherry’s shoulders, chucked her under the chin. “Come on, help me solve this thing. I gotta think it out.” “Whaddya got so far?” “The obvious scenario is Doddsworth’s daughter, insanely jealous of her best friend Dorrie’s wealth and social position, bumps her off. Doddsworth, realizing his daughter Maxine is the killer, panics and frames you.” “You believe that?” “It’s the obvious solution. He called
window. “Of course not. But I don’t see why you couldn’t bring her costume out here.” “Wonderful,” Becky said. “You’d like me to dress in the hall?” She shrugged off her coat, thrust it at the beleaguered policeman. “I suppose you’d like to hold my clothes for me?” From the look on Dan Finley’s face, Becky had been torturing him all morning. “No, ma’am. But if I’m gonna deviate from my orders, I’m gonna clear it with the chief.” Becky threw up her hands. “Oh, for goodness’ sakes!” Sherry