Punning with Scissors (A Crossword Puzzle Mystery)
By Becky Clark
Rating: 4.5/5 Stairs
Expected publication: 11 May 2021
Which starts like this:
Quinn Carr unlocked the door to the Chestnut Station Diner to let Jethro and the Retireds in. They all tried to push past her, drooling, scratching their butts, and sniffing the air. All except the dog, of course.
Punning with Scissors
What makes a cozy mystery? A cozy is typically set in a small town with a female amateur sleuth who either knows the victim or discovers the body. Our sleuth has a few close friends she relies on as she investigates whodunit. The author drops subtle clues (and red herrings!) along the way for the armchair detective to puzzle out along with our fictional sleuth.
The Crossword Puzzle Mystery series fully embraces all my favorite elements of a cozy: an amateur sleuth who isn’t perfect but tries to do her best, a couple of good friends to help when the going gets rough, and a small town setting with plenty of interesting characters. In Quinn’s case, she sees a lot of them while she works her shift at the diner.
In this particular mystery, Quinn is faced with a whodunit of epic proportion: Creighton McLellan is found dead at home, stabbed with a pair of his husband Hugh Pugh’s scissors. The police chief (always ready to close the case and get a murder off the books) thinks it’s an open and shut case. But Quinn is skeptical – she doesn’t think Hugh would hurt Creighton. She volunteers to watch Hugh’s dog Virginia Woof while Hugh is awaiting bail (conveniently giving her ample time to snoop for clues in their house). Quinn is on the case.
You may wonder where the crossword puzzle fits into everything. Quinn happens to be the anonymous author of crossword puzzles in the town’s paper, and has been for years. Chief Chestnut is an avid solver of said crosswords. And when the chief is determined to quickly close the investigation, Quinn uses her crossword puzzle skills to secretly send a few subliminal messages to him about the case. It’s fun to read Quinn’s thought process and how she designs the weekly puzzles.
Ms. Clark keeps the mystery moving, and it’s full of humor. I do wish we could have seen more of Jake at the diner and built upon his friendship with Quinn from the first book, but the story focus didn’t really allow for that.
Punning with Scissors is a light-hearted mystery that is full of chuckles (and maybe even a few pun-inducing groans), and is the perfect pick for your next cozy book.