Monday, October 18, 2021

REVIEW: The Crossword Murder (e-book) by Nero Blanc

The Crossword Murder is a cozy mystery. I checked it out via OverDrive.


Thompson C. Briephs, an eccentric crossword puzzle editor, is found strangled to death. The police think it's kinky sex gone wrong, but Rosco Polycrates, a private investigator hired by the victim's mother, soon has reason to believe otherwise. In an effort to understand the victim and his world better, Rosco talks to Annabelle (Belle) Graham, another crossword puzzle editor, and the two find themselves more intrigued by and comfortable with each other than is maybe wise, considering that Belle is married.

Belle suspects that Briephs included a clue about his murderer's identity in one or more of several unpublished puzzles he created prior to his death. Unfortunately, most of the puzzles have gone missing. Even if that weren't the case, each puzzle includes a different name. How are they supposed to narrow things down, especially when several people had a motive for the murder?

This started off okay. Blackmail, murder, and Briephs' odd home, which was designed to be a labyrinth. Rosco had a bit of a noir detective vibe to him, but less hard-edged. Belle was devoted to her work, smart, and beautiful. It was clear, early on, that her marriage was a sore spot for her. If I remember right, her husband was away on an archaeological dig. Belle seemed lonely, but at the same time she and her husband didn't seem to mesh well, right down to Belle not really feeling comfortable in the parts of her house that most featured her husband's decorating touch. It was obvious that the author planned to end Belle's marriage at some point and pair her off with Rosco. I just didn't expect this to progress as quickly as it did, and it didn't sit well with me.

The mystery was okay, but forgettable. I thought that the whole "clue in the crossword puzzles" bit was very contrived, and I'm not sure the logic held together well. It seemed like quite a leap from those puzzles to figuring out the identity of the murderer.

I did really like the labyrinth, though. It made for an excellent location for a tense chase scene involving the killer.


Each of Briephs' crossword puzzles is included in the book. I didn't bother to try to solve them because I'm terrible at crossword puzzles at the best of times.

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