Terry Odell sets up the perfect scene for a murder in Deadly Puzzles. Seven people are cooped up in a Bed and Breakfast during a severe snowstorm: an artist, a travel blogger, a nature guide, a stranded motorist, the two owners of the B&B, and a cop. The blizzard has taken out the power and the phones. And one of the people might be a murderer. A car accident near the B&B was caused by two gunshots, and two people have been injured and two more killed, including the driver, who was killed with a bullet to his head. The drama intensifies with the fact that when the vacationing police chief from Mapleton, CO, Gordon Hepler, and the stranded driver go to find the disabled car, the driver’s wife has disappeared from it.
Even after Gordon returns to Mapleton from his vacation, he continues to look into all these puzzles, which keep growing in number. Or are the disparate puzzles he keeps finding somehow related? It will take all his and his second-in-command’s efforts to track down the solutions to all these many puzzles.
I really loved Deadly Puzzles. This book is very well written and gripped my attention all throughout, to the extent that I couldn’t put the book down. I appreciated the way that the characters humorously point out the comparison of their situation to an Agatha Christie novel. This cleverly made the setting avoid feeling artificial and trite, which it might have done without these comments. I also enjoyed the way the book gently pokes fun at television cop shows. For example, it makes the statement when describing a bedroom Gordon examines that if this were television, he would just run a DNA test on an apple core and solve the mystery. But in reality, if he could even do such a thing, all he would learn is that the man did or did not eat the apple.
At first when I saw that the book (really, just the first half but I didn’t know that when I started) focuses on only Gordon of the main characters from the first two books, I was a little disappointed. But Gordon really comes to life even more than before in this book. Further, the supporting characters kept me drawn to them, and their connection to the plot kept me guessing about what was going on with each. Each one seems to be hiding something, but is it something innocuous or something sinister?
Steve Marvel returns from the previous two Mapleton books to narrate this book, and he does a fantastic job! His voice is well-suited to the content of the book, and he really embodies the mood of the book.
I gave five stars to the previous two books in this series, but Deadly Puzzles surpasses both of them in its ability to grip my attention and draw me into every aspect of the book. My only complaint about the book is that it ended too quickly! I am now impatiently awaiting the audio release of the next book in the series and hope Terry Odell writes many more to come! It’s rare for me to wish I could award more than five stars to a book, but this is one of those occasions. So give it an honorary six stars!
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