Puzzling Ink (A Crossword Puzzle Mystery Book 1) by Becky Clark – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

“She wanted her words to come out standard Times New Roman, but was pretty sure they ended up being Comic Sans.” 

Book Blurb:

1 DOWN: DEATH BY HOMICIDE
 
Puzzling Ink by Becky ClarkQuinn Carr wishes her life could be more like a crossword puzzle: neat, orderly, and perfectly arranged. At least her passion for puzzles, flair for words—and mild case of OCD—have landed her a gig creating crosswords for the local paper. But if she ever hopes to move out of her parents’ house, she can’t give up her day job as a waitress. She needs the tips. But when a customer ends up dead at her table—face down in biscuits and gravy—Quinn needs to get a clue to find whodunit . . .
 
6 LETTERS, STARTS WITH “M”
 
It turns out that solving a murder is a lot harder than a creating a crossword. Quinn has plenty of suspects—up, down, and across.  One of them is her boss, the owner of the diner who shares a culinary past with the victim. Two of them are ex-wives, her boss’s and the victim’s. A third complication is the Chief of Police who refuses to allow much investigation, preferring the pretense their town has no crime. To solve this mystery, Quinn has to think outside the boxes—before the killer gets the last word . . .

My Review:

Hmmm, okay. Puzzling Ink starts a new series for Becky Clark and it still has me trying to decide what to think about it. Not my first novel by Becky Clark and I usually enjoy her wry, witty writing style.

Puzzling Ink by Becky ClarkProtagonist Quinn Carr has returned home to Chestnut Station after she failed to progress in a police academy in Denver. She has been diagnosed with a mild case of OCD (and associated depression), but holy moly—if this is mild I hate to think what full blown obsessive-compulsive disorder is like. She has recently began waitressing at a diner and on the side creates crossword puzzles for the local paper. Her best friend from childhood, Rico, apparently encouraged her to try for the academy, but I can’t imagine a more unsuitable candidate. The author has given the MC several interesting support characters along with parents who are quirky and endearing.

Unfortunately, on a night when she find herself alone in the diner (the boss man off on a fundraising catering job), one of two remaining customers is discovered dead. Jake, owner of the diner ends up in jail for his murder. This is the first where I have difficulty—she’s crazy over the top to support him and prove him innocent, taking on single-handedly the cooking and waitressing of the diner. She’s worried about his wrath when he discovers she’s not doing well in the diner (huh?) and scared she’ll lose the job (double huh?).

The reader is introduced to her OCD side almost immediately, and that theme repeats—not just in nervous gestures or activities—but constantly reminded of being OCD. It’s a serious disorder. It is some time into the book before the reader is treated to the mechanics of creating a crossword puzzle and some time after that that she actually uses the device to promote a theory. And I must admit—the mechanics of the crossword puzzle is amazing (professional cruciverbalists)—I had no idea…it’s no simple process. (But did you know there’s an app for that?)

In her investigation and interviews, she tends to be a bit scattered. Definitely a real novice amateur sleuth. Quinn is fleshed to the degree of her OCD symptoms—lining up objects squarely, color coding. The mystery takes a back seat to the quandary of the anxiety disorder. Although well-plotted, the pacing was a bit erratic and Quinn not a protagonist with whom I could connect. The conclusion sorta snuck in and was not one that could have been guessed.

I read and enjoyed Fiction Can Be Murder back in March, 2018 and for the most part enjoyed this one to the extent I’ll read the second. Recommended for crossword puzzle fans and cozy mystery fans.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Mysteries
Publisher: Lyrical Press

  • ASIN : B085LTVY49

Print Length: 227 pages
Publication Date: November
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Becky Clark - authorThe Author: Becky Clark is the seventh of eight kids, which explains both her insatiable need for attention and her atrocious table manners. She likes to read funny books so it felt natural to write them too. She surrounds herself with quirky people and pets who end up as characters in her books. Her stout-hearted dog keeps her safe from menacing squirrels, leaves, and deer, but not plastic bags. Those things are terrifying.

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