Thursday, July 05, 2007

Death By Sudoku - Kaye Morgan

Death By Sudoku
Kaye Morgan
Berkley Prime Crime


Liza Kelly has spent the past couple of months holed up in her small hometown of Maiden’s Bay, Oregon. While she’s still a partner in a very successful Hollywood pr firm, she now spends her time working for her hometown paper as the resident expert on sudoku puzzles, and, to be honest, hiding out from a failing marriage. Her first trip back to southern California is at a friend’s invitation, to participate in a sudoku tournament. There, she’s greeted by Derrick Robbins, an actor whose last job was as a cryptologist in a long-running spy show.

Derrick seems to have taken his role to heart and now creates puzzles of his own. But he has an ulterior motive for attending. He wants to get into the production side of things and asks Liza to accompany him to his home in Santa Barbara to see his work. His work turns out to be his niece, Jenny’s, audition tape, and it’s surprisingly good. The following day, on her way back to Derrick’s to sign the girl, Liza’s trip stop abruptly when she finds Derrick’s body. Someone obviously threw him from the terrace of his secluded home. And now Jenny is missing.

During her visit with Derrick, he mentioned something about finding messages coded into sudoku puzzles. Liza dismissed it at the time, but now she wonders. When the police are completely uninterested in this theory of hers, Liza feels that she owes it to her friend to continue her avenue of investigation.

This is the first in a new and very promising series. Liza is a likeable and believable character. Her investigation proceeds from the puzzles, her area of expertise. While the endgame is a bit shaky, the mystery as a whole is quite interesting and incorporates using the numerical puzzles. If you’ve never worked a sudoku puzzle, don’t worry. The author provides concise explanations that are woven into the tournament scenes, and provides sample puzzles, tips for solving them, and an answer key at the end of the book. I hope to see more of Liza and her friends in future volumes. In the meantime, I think I’ve found a new addiction.

Rating: 7
July 2007
ISBN# 978-0-425-21640-8 (paperback)


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