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It’s murder on the movie set! It’s no surprise when Cora Felton’s ex-husband’s sensational tell-all memoir, Confessions of a Trophy Husband: My Life with the Puzzle Lady, is optioned for the movies, but it certainly raises eyebrows when the Puzzle Lady herself signed on as an associate producer. Cora explains gamely that she hoped to have some control over the project. The It’s murder on the movie set! It’s no surprise when Cora Felton’s ex-husband’s sensational tell-all memoir, Confessions of a Trophy Husband: My Life with the Puzzle Lady, is optioned for the movies, but it certainly raises eyebrows when the Puzzle Lady herself signed on as an associate producer. Cora explains gamely that she hoped to have some control over the project. The truth is that she needs the money.   Now Cora is filming her life story on location in New York City, and things couldn’t be worse. She doesn’t like the script, she doesn’t like the director, and she absolutely hates the actress who is playing her in the movie. It’s almost a relief when the first dead body shows up on the set. If only it didn’t come with a crossword puzzle . . .


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It’s murder on the movie set! It’s no surprise when Cora Felton’s ex-husband’s sensational tell-all memoir, Confessions of a Trophy Husband: My Life with the Puzzle Lady, is optioned for the movies, but it certainly raises eyebrows when the Puzzle Lady herself signed on as an associate producer. Cora explains gamely that she hoped to have some control over the project. The It’s murder on the movie set! It’s no surprise when Cora Felton’s ex-husband’s sensational tell-all memoir, Confessions of a Trophy Husband: My Life with the Puzzle Lady, is optioned for the movies, but it certainly raises eyebrows when the Puzzle Lady herself signed on as an associate producer. Cora explains gamely that she hoped to have some control over the project. The truth is that she needs the money.   Now Cora is filming her life story on location in New York City, and things couldn’t be worse. She doesn’t like the script, she doesn’t like the director, and she absolutely hates the actress who is playing her in the movie. It’s almost a relief when the first dead body shows up on the set. If only it didn’t come with a crossword puzzle . . .

30 review for Lights! Camera! Puzzles!

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mark Baker

    Cora Felton, famed Puzzle Lady, is having her worst nightmare come true when a tell all book from her least favorite ex-husband becomes a bestseller and gets turned into a movie. She agrees to become an associate producer on the film in hopes of control some of the damage even if it means she has to spend time with her least favorite ex-husband on a daily basis. Before things can even get started, however, tragedy visits the set when a production assistant is killed. The police aren’t sure what Cora Felton, famed Puzzle Lady, is having her worst nightmare come true when a tell all book from her least favorite ex-husband becomes a bestseller and gets turned into a movie. She agrees to become an associate producer on the film in hopes of control some of the damage even if it means she has to spend time with her least favorite ex-husband on a daily basis. Before things can even get started, however, tragedy visits the set when a production assistant is killed. The police aren’t sure what to make of it, but Cora isn’t that concerned since it has nothing to do with her. However, as things continue to go wrong on the film, she begins to take a more active interest. Can she figure out who is behind everything happening? As a longtime fan of the series, I was looking forward to Cora’s latest adventure only to find myself disappointed. The star of the series has always been the witty dialogue between Cora and the rest of the characters. I did laugh some, but I found most of it lacking the spark of the better books in the series. The plot is really a series of events, although Cora does get a clue at the end that helps her put things together. We spend most of the book in New York City on various locations, which leaves the series regulars on the sideline, and the new characters aren’t strong enough to carry the book. We do get a new crossword and Sudoku to solve as we read. This is one of those books where it is easy to pick on the shortcomings, but I was entertained as I breezed through the book. Still, this is one only for fans who need Cora’s latest adventure. Those new to the series won’t enjoy the book. Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Aimee Dars

    Cora Felton’s ex-husband, Melvin, has written a tell-all memoir, Confessions of a Trophy Husband: My Life with the Puzzle Lady, documenting their fiery marriage, though he’s kept secret the biggest scandal of all: Cora, the Puzzle Lady, can’t solve a crossword to save her life. Still, the book paints Cora poorly, and she’s lost an endorsement deal that provided most of her income. When she learns that Melvin's book is being made into a movie, she signs on as an associate producer, partly to infl Cora Felton’s ex-husband, Melvin, has written a tell-all memoir, Confessions of a Trophy Husband: My Life with the Puzzle Lady, documenting their fiery marriage, though he’s kept secret the biggest scandal of all: Cora, the Puzzle Lady, can’t solve a crossword to save her life. Still, the book paints Cora poorly, and she’s lost an endorsement deal that provided most of her income. When she learns that Melvin's book is being made into a movie, she signs on as an associate producer, partly to influence how she’s depicted but mostly because she needs the money. Cora’s first day on the movie began with auditions for “present day Cora” and she was grumpy as she compared herself to the parade of actresses ushered to and from the stage by a production assistant. She’s called back to the theater by her friend NYPD homicide sergeant Crowley when one of those PAs is found murdered. The screenwriter had given Cora a crossword puzzle he’d found; Cora was convinced it was supposed to be planted on the body. As director Sandy Delfin tries to keep the shoot on track while Sergeant Crowley haunts the set, additional murders plague the production making everyone wonder who will be next and why a killer targeted the Untitled Puzzle Lady Project. Lights! Camera! Puzzles! is an entry in the long-standing Puzzle Lady series, and while reading the previous books isn't necessary to understanding and enjoying this addition, I believe it would help give context to the returning characters and their relationships. Though there are multiple murders, the book doesn't have violence or gore so would be ideal for mystery lovers looking for those features. Solving the murders relies not on forensics or profiling but on observation and logic, and Cora excels at that, though her access to crime scenes strains credibility. Cora communicates through witty, raucous banter, primarily with Sergeant Crowley, an ex-boyfriend, and it’s often funny, though at times it can be quite cutting and a little harsh for my taste. The characters that populate the movie set are a little stereotypical, especially when it comes to sex and gender, and these conventions feel outdated, but even more almost in deliberate defiance of changing expectations around equality and sexual harassment. As a Puzzle Lady book should, Lights! Camera! Puzzles! includes puzzles for the reader to complete—a crossword by Fred Piscop and a Sudoku by Will Shortz. The book is quick and light-hearted and a good choice for an undemanding airport diversion. Thanks to NetGalley and Pegasus Books for providing an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review. ...aka darzy... | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lesa

    I don't usually read Parnell Hall's Puzzle Lady mysteries, but I'm always attracted to books set in New York City. Cora Felton, The Puzzle Lady, is featured in this one, while her niece, Sherry Carter, really has just a small supporting role. Cora hopes there's a star playing her role in Lights! Camera! Puzzles! If Cora Felton didn't need the money, she certainly wouldn't be sitting in a theater watching actresses audition to play her in the movie made from her fifth ex-husband's trashy tell-all I don't usually read Parnell Hall's Puzzle Lady mysteries, but I'm always attracted to books set in New York City. Cora Felton, The Puzzle Lady, is featured in this one, while her niece, Sherry Carter, really has just a small supporting role. Cora hopes there's a star playing her role in Lights! Camera! Puzzles! If Cora Felton didn't need the money, she certainly wouldn't be sitting in a theater watching actresses audition to play her in the movie made from her fifth ex-husband's trashy tell-all book. When a production assistant is murdered before filming event starts, Sergeant Crowley, a homicide detective and one of Cora's ex-boyfriends, calls her to the scene. Lovers' spat gone wrong? It's possible because the woman's boyfriend is found dead as well. Something just doesn't feel right to Cora. However, she's sidetracked when Angela Broadbent, a television actress, steps in to portray her in the film. Filming starts again, but murders continue to roll. Cora's not really interested in solving these murders. She's willing to let Crowley solve this series of murders, but Angela pushes her to investigate. The one-liners and witty comebacks never stop in the latest Puzzle Lady romp. The humorous mystery takes readers behind the scenes in the film world. Readers who appreciate fast-paced cozy mysteries with an outrageous amateur sleuth will enjoy puzzling out the clues in Lights! Camera! Puzzles!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Cora's ex-husband (number five, apparently) wrote a scurrilous book about their marriage, and wouldn't you know, it's been chosen to be a movie. Since the revelations, true and false, the Puzzle Lady's endorsement income has dried up, and Cora can use the cash the movie company is offering her to be an associate producer. She shows up for some of the auditions, and the next day one of the gofers is found murdered. At first, the police think her boyfriend killed her, especially after his apparent Cora's ex-husband (number five, apparently) wrote a scurrilous book about their marriage, and wouldn't you know, it's been chosen to be a movie. Since the revelations, true and false, the Puzzle Lady's endorsement income has dried up, and Cora can use the cash the movie company is offering her to be an associate producer. She shows up for some of the auditions, and the next day one of the gofers is found murdered. At first, the police think her boyfriend killed her, especially after his apparent suicide. But when his death turns out to be murder, things get more tense on the set.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    Lights! Camera! Puzzles is the twentieth installment of the Puzzle Lady mystery series featuring Cora Felton and set in the small town of Bakerhaven. The options to Cora's ex-husband Melvin's memoir about their marriage is being made into a movie filming in New York City and Cora has signed on as an Associate Producer in order to keep an eye on how she's going to be portrayed. Right off the bat one of the gopher girls on set is murdered, quickly followed by her boyfriend, another gopher girl and Lights! Camera! Puzzles is the twentieth installment of the Puzzle Lady mystery series featuring Cora Felton and set in the small town of Bakerhaven. The options to Cora's ex-husband Melvin's memoir about their marriage is being made into a movie filming in New York City and Cora has signed on as an Associate Producer in order to keep an eye on how she's going to be portrayed. Right off the bat one of the gopher girls on set is murdered, quickly followed by her boyfriend, another gopher girl and one of the actors. You'd think with all of this action and with Cora teaming up with Sergeant Crowley to find the killer that this book would be a hit. For me it was a dud. I have always enjoyed this series, spending time with Cora and her niece, solving puzzles and laughing at the witty one-liners but the last few additions read as though the author is just trying to meet a quota. I actually started and put this book down three times over the course of the past two years before finally forcing myself to finish it. There was just too much back and forth conversation and it was very difficult to keep the characters straight - the murders also seemed to take a backseat to the "witty" conversation. Only two puzzles, neither having anything do to do with the murders and just a few brief glimpses of Sherry and the other characters we've come to love was a big let down as well. I received an advanced copy of Lights! Cameras! Puzzles from NetGalley via Pegasus Books. While not required to write a review I am happy to offer my honest opinion.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    First I have to admit that I liked the earliest Puzzle Lady books the best. That’s when Cora was drinking, smoking and being her usual “up to no good self”. They got into more of a family atmosphere the series went on which I didn’t enjoy as much. As for this particular book (number 20 in the series) it’s a good mystery as I didn’t really figure it out until the end but nobody from Bakerhaven is really involved except for Cora and a few times her lawyer is there. This novel takes place in New Yo First I have to admit that I liked the earliest Puzzle Lady books the best. That’s when Cora was drinking, smoking and being her usual “up to no good self”. They got into more of a family atmosphere the series went on which I didn’t enjoy as much. As for this particular book (number 20 in the series) it’s a good mystery as I didn’t really figure it out until the end but nobody from Bakerhaven is really involved except for Cora and a few times her lawyer is there. This novel takes place in New York City and somehow just didn’t read well for me. It’s premise is they’re making a movie about Cora’s life based on the book her ex husband wrote and there are the usual jibes between them. I’m not sure but it may be time for the author to end the series as the last few books just haven’t been up to scratch in my opinion. Also there’s only one crossword puzzle and one sudoko puzzle in the entire book. Part of the fun for me is figuring out the multiple puzzles in the books. I still gave it 3 out of 5 stars as it is a good mystery.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amk256 King

    Thank you to Net Gallery for an ARC of this book in return for an honest review. This is an instalment in a series of books featuring a range of characters, the main character being Cora, the Puzzle Lady ... who solves crimes. I’m kind of torn with this book. I felt compelled to read it even though I despised it from the outset. I didn’t like the way it was written, almost in a play like format with constant character narrative ... I didn’t know the characters and clearly this is a series of books Thank you to Net Gallery for an ARC of this book in return for an honest review. This is an instalment in a series of books featuring a range of characters, the main character being Cora, the Puzzle Lady ... who solves crimes. I’m kind of torn with this book. I felt compelled to read it even though I despised it from the outset. I didn’t like the way it was written, almost in a play like format with constant character narrative ... I didn’t know the characters and clearly this is a series of books you need to read in order to understand the characters better .... and I felt like I should give up on it immediately ... BUT and here’s the stupidity .... I couldn’t put the thing down and I did enjoy reading it .... it was in fact so bad that I just had to see where it was going .... one of the most bizarre books I’ve both enjoyed and hated at the same time!! Go figure!! I don’t think I’d go back and read the others though!!!! 🤭

  8. 5 out of 5

    Grace Koshida

    Cora Felton’s ex-husband Marvin has written a sensational tell-all memoir, Confessions of a Trophy Husband: My Life with the Puzzle Lady. The scandalous details lead to several of Cora's major sponsors dropping her and now Cora needs money. When the book is optioned for the movies, Cora signs up as an associate producer. to get some control over the project and get paid. But when filming starts in New York City, Cora hates it all: the script, the director and the actresses playing P.D. (present Cora Felton’s ex-husband Marvin has written a sensational tell-all memoir, Confessions of a Trophy Husband: My Life with the Puzzle Lady. The scandalous details lead to several of Cora's major sponsors dropping her and now Cora needs money. When the book is optioned for the movies, Cora signs up as an associate producer. to get some control over the project and get paid. But when filming starts in New York City, Cora hates it all: the script, the director and the actresses playing P.D. (present day) and historic Cora. Things start to go wrong fast when one of the gofers is found dead, and then the hapless actor playing Marvin is found hanging in his trailer. I used to enjoy reading the Puzzle Lady mysteries but this one did not work for me. There were not even many crossword puzzles in the book! I received an eARC via Netgalley and Pegasus Books with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book and provided this review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    When Melvin's book is turned in to a movie, you can be sure nothing will go as planned! Overall, I felt that this book was weaker than many of the previous in the series. It's hard to stay fresh after 20 books, but book 19 was just fine. There's still the snappy dialog and Cora and her usual crew are there, but something just felt lacking. Perhaps the author felt painted in to a corner with the tell-all book and movie idea and had to finish it? Not exactly sure, but at least the ending left open When Melvin's book is turned in to a movie, you can be sure nothing will go as planned! Overall, I felt that this book was weaker than many of the previous in the series. It's hard to stay fresh after 20 books, but book 19 was just fine. There's still the snappy dialog and Cora and her usual crew are there, but something just felt lacking. Perhaps the author felt painted in to a corner with the tell-all book and movie idea and had to finish it? Not exactly sure, but at least the ending left open the possibilities of more books in the series. Hopeful that there will be, as I really have enjoyed the series over the years.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Miranda

    I would give this 1.5 if I could but I just don't think I can justify a 2. Puzzles, murder, movies, broadway...it had everything I'd expect to love but it was so poorly written and hard to follow. Don't fall for the "puzzles that help you solve the crime" line on the front because there are 2 puzzles (1 sudoku, 1 crossword) in the very beginning and then nothing for the rest of the book AND they have nothing to do with the crimes. I found myself having to write the character names next to lines I would give this 1.5 if I could but I just don't think I can justify a 2. Puzzles, murder, movies, broadway...it had everything I'd expect to love but it was so poorly written and hard to follow. Don't fall for the "puzzles that help you solve the crime" line on the front because there are 2 puzzles (1 sudoku, 1 crossword) in the very beginning and then nothing for the rest of the book AND they have nothing to do with the crimes. I found myself having to write the character names next to lines of dialogue in order to follow who was talking and there are so many typos, I had to restrain myself from editing it while reading

  11. 5 out of 5

    Linda Millard

    To my non-crossword loving mind the best of the series! Only one puzzle and one Sudoku and neither one is a clue. I was a tad concerned when the crossword was on pages 10 & 11 and flipping forward, as I always do, to look for the solution I didn't find it until page 233. I love Parnell Hall and especially Stanley Hastings. The Puzzle Lady books have always seemed at their best when set in New York with Crowley in them. As usual, I do have a quibble and that is that Cora ignored the crossword and To my non-crossword loving mind the best of the series! Only one puzzle and one Sudoku and neither one is a clue. I was a tad concerned when the crossword was on pages 10 & 11 and flipping forward, as I always do, to look for the solution I didn't find it until page 233. I love Parnell Hall and especially Stanley Hastings. The Puzzle Lady books have always seemed at their best when set in New York with Crowley in them. As usual, I do have a quibble and that is that Cora ignored the crossword and didn't have Sherry solve it either right away or as soon as she learned of the first murder.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    This is the latest installment in “The Puzzle Lady”series by Parnell Hall. It is a departure from the series in that most of the usual characters have very small parts in this book. They are making a movie out of Melvin’s tell all book about Melvin’s and Cora’s marriage. People start dying on the set of the movie and Detective Crowley is now on set trying to solve the murders with his former flame Cora. It was a good story but I missed the cast of characters that are normally there to spar with This is the latest installment in “The Puzzle Lady”series by Parnell Hall. It is a departure from the series in that most of the usual characters have very small parts in this book. They are making a movie out of Melvin’s tell all book about Melvin’s and Cora’s marriage. People start dying on the set of the movie and Detective Crowley is now on set trying to solve the murders with his former flame Cora. It was a good story but I missed the cast of characters that are normally there to spar with Cora.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jessi

    The Puzzle Lady's ex-husband has written a (mostly fictitious) tell-all about their marriage. The book has wrecked her image as everyone's grandma and the lucrative promotions have dried up. So Cora has made a deal with the devil and is a producer on the film the book is being turned into She's not happy to begin with and then the body of a staff member is found. And then there's another. I hadn't read this series in a while but I am glad to see that Cora has branched out and it made sense for he The Puzzle Lady's ex-husband has written a (mostly fictitious) tell-all about their marriage. The book has wrecked her image as everyone's grandma and the lucrative promotions have dried up. So Cora has made a deal with the devil and is a producer on the film the book is being turned into She's not happy to begin with and then the body of a staff member is found. And then there's another. I hadn't read this series in a while but I am glad to see that Cora has branched out and it made sense for her to find a body in a new place.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    Wonderful read I've been a Parnell Hall fan since the first Puzzle Lady book when I was introduced to it by a friend. His books are always excellent. They lead you on twists and turns that lead you to think you know who did it - to find out you don't. The characters are loveable (or love to hate). This book was definitely different, but in a good way. I can't wait for the next book! Wonderful read I've been a Parnell Hall fan since the first Puzzle Lady book when I was introduced to it by a friend. His books are always excellent. They lead you on twists and turns that lead you to think you know who did it - to find out you don't. The characters are loveable (or love to hate). This book was definitely different, but in a good way. I can't wait for the next book!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Don Gorman

    (2). I picked this one up on Marilyn Stasio's review in the Times. I can see where it would appeal to some, but it was just too light and fluffy for me. Cora Felton was a fun character, and the surrounding cast was deep with lightly entertaining and witty folks, but the substance was just not there. Too much like a mystery version of a rom/com or something. Sort of a Hart to Hart script made into a book. One and done for me here. (2). I picked this one up on Marilyn Stasio's review in the Times. I can see where it would appeal to some, but it was just too light and fluffy for me. Cora Felton was a fun character, and the surrounding cast was deep with lightly entertaining and witty folks, but the substance was just not there. Too much like a mystery version of a rom/com or something. Sort of a Hart to Hart script made into a book. One and done for me here.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Val

    The puzzle lady becomes an assistant producer on the movie that is being made from the book her ex-husband Melvin has written about their life. But things start to go down hill fast when one of the gofer girls is killed before filming even begins. Things escalate when others begin to die. Who is doing the killing and why? Can they finish shooting the film so the puzzle lady can at least make some money off it? This is a wise-cracking silly bit of a mystery novel.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dorothy

    Puzzle Lady reads were always a treat, but Lights! Camera!... and its two predecessors were a struggle to finish. The plot in this one is ridiculous; the dialogue strains to create the wit of the earlier books in the series; Cora seems aimless; and recurring characters have lost their punch. And note to the publisher: Lights has several errors in the copy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Johnston

    Ugh...I adore the puzzle lady mystery series but this one was waaay too focused on the film industry and really lacked the charm of the other works. Definitely not the best in the series but still a cozy read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

    This was not the best book in the series. I love Parnell Hall's,Puzzle Lady mysteries,but this last one was not up to snuff. The best parts of the book,was Cora and Melvin. I had the murderer figured out way before Cora and company. Of enough Sherry,Aaron and the Bakerhaven gang. This was not the best book in the series. I love Parnell Hall's,Puzzle Lady mysteries,but this last one was not up to snuff. The best parts of the book,was Cora and Melvin. I had the murderer figured out way before Cora and company. Of enough Sherry,Aaron and the Bakerhaven gang.

  20. 4 out of 5

    HanEliza

    3.5-4 stars! Very fast and entertaining read, I never read Hall before and I think i will be reading more later on! The only thing that docked it points were the many grammatical errors that I found, especially in the first few chapters

  21. 5 out of 5

    Deeanna Antosh

    Feels weird to say I finished this when I just couldn’t take it anymore. I rarely do not read book cover to cover. This is the first I stopped in a long time. I thought I’d be excited or at least challenged with crossword puzzle type clues etc. I was wrong.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Compared to previous books in this series, this book comes off disjointed jumping from scenes and locals rapidly.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Peggy McCoy

    This was a mess of a story, too much chaos to make a coherent story.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Not my favorite Puzzle Lady mystery. Seemed very long and took too much time to reveal the killer. Kind of disappointed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    Light but relatively engaging—-but not the best of this humorous, quirky series...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Fun read involving crossword puzzles, mystery and murder, which take place on a movie set.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    Cora and Hollywood.....you know this will not end well...there wiill be laughs, a dead body or 3...but will Hollywood survive Cora?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Treva

    Glad I finally caught up with this series. Since it is mostly dialogue it goes very quickly. Only one puzzle and one sodoku so that kept the book moving along too. Too many murders though.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Garry Hoffmann

    Easy read. Kinda stupid. Skip it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Earl

    While not the strongest installment in the series, it had its enjoyable parts.

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