Two Down: A New Crossword Mystery with Puzzles Included (Crossword Mysteries)

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9780425175101: Two Down: A New Crossword Mystery with Puzzles Included (Crossword Mysteries)
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In this brain-teasing follow-up to the smash-hit debut, The Crossword Murder, P.I. Rosco Polycrates returns to discover that--up, down, or across--S.O.S. spells danger...

When a famous Hollywood actress and her friend set sail off the coast of Nantucket Island--and never return, it sounds like foul play to P.I. Rosco Polycrates and his paramour/crossword editor Belle Graham. They are sharpening their pencils and their minds to solve this case. But the truth is not so easily spelled out, and it will take all their sleuthing skills to fill in the missing blanks.

Praise for Nero Blanc's The Crossword Murder:

"A puzzle lover's delight...a touch of suspense, a pinch of romance, and a whole lot of clever word clues...sure to appeal to crossword addicts and cozy lovers alike. What's a three-letter word for this book? F-U-N." --Earlene Fowler

"Evoe! At last puzzle fans have their revenge...super sleuthing and solving for puzzle lovers and mystery fans." --Charles Preston, Puzzle Editor, USA Today

"Adroit word play and high society intrigueEan enjoyable, complex solution and likable protagonists...Clever." --Publishers Weekly

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Review:

Constructing a mystery around a crossword puzzle is nothing new. Dorothy Sayers's 1929 Lord Peter Wimsey short story, "Uncle Meleander's Will," is an early and particularly charming example. After all, logic, extrapolation, and methodical musings are all stock-in-trade for detectives and puzzlers alike.

Two Down, the second crossword-puzzle mystery from Nero Blanc (nom de plume of cowriters Cordelia Frances Biddle and Steve Zettler), marks the return of private investigator Rosco Polycrates and crossword editor Belle Graham, first thrown together in The Crossword Murder. Easygoing Rosco and charmingly absent-minded Belle--an intellectual who seems to sustain herself entirely on deviled eggs--are now tentatively navigating the uncertain waters of romance in Newcastle, Massachusetts. More treacherous waters, however, claim an unlikely pair of victims when Hollywood femme fatale Jamaica Nevisson and her friend Genie Pepper, an experienced yacht racer, disappear off the coast of Nantucket, leaving only a charred boat hull behind. When their dinghy washes up in a cove where the tide can't reach, Rosco, Belle, and Genie's husband Tom begin to wonder whether they were murdered. The arrival of a series of cryptic crosswords strengthens their suspicions. Obscure hints of fraud, jealousy, and murder send Belle into a pile of thesauri and dictionaries--and Rosco into some decidedly unfriendly situations. Divining the clues behind the clues will take two heads and a willingness to confront the slightly seedy underbelly of Newcastle's aggressively genteel, Waspy upper crust.

It's all fun, but the premise of a crossword-puzzle mystery comes across less as a game of wits than as a gimmick. It seems odd that everyone, including stodgy police sergeant Al Lever, is perfectly willing to accept anonymous crossword puzzles as prophecies from some scurrilous oracle. Readers probably won't guess who the crossword constructor is, and by the time this person is unmasked, many may not care. The puzzles themselves, though, are delightful. One hopes that in future novels, Nero Blanc will polish the plots and characters to better surround these little gems. --Kelly Flynn

About the Author:

Nero Blanc is a pseudonym for Cordelia Frances Biddle and Steve Zettler, who are husband and wife and serious crossword buffs.

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