Crossword Puzzle Mysteries

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Quinn 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 her 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.

It turns out that solving a murder is a lot harder than 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.



Quinn Carr has been quietly creating crosswords for the Chestnut Station Chronicle in her small Colorado town since she was in high school, but she has yet to solve the puzzle of how to make a living from her passion. So she lives with her parents and works at the local diner, catering to regulars like The Retireds, a charming if cantankerous crew of elderly men. The most recent member to join the group is a recently retired tailor, the unfortunately named Hugh Pugh.


But Hugh’s misfortune dramatically increases when he’s arrested for stabbing his husband with a pair of fabric shears. With a cryptic crossword clue left at the crime scene, Quinn seems tailor-made for solving this murder. The local police may be determined to pin the crime on the kindly tailor, but Quinn will use her penchant for puzzles and what her therapist calls her “obsessive coping mechanism” to get the clues to line up and catch the real culprit—before the killer boxes her in. . . .



Creating crossword puzzles for the Chestnut Station Chronicle won’t allow Quinn Carr to quit her diner waitress job any time soon. But it does provide an outlet for her organizational OCD, and also lets her leave subtle hints for police chief Myron Chestnut, an avid puzzler, when his investigations need some direction. Some mysteries, though, leave even Quinn stumped—like the property deed she finds in her grandfather’s old desk. The document lists Quinn’s mother as the owner of some land on the outskirts of Chestnut Station, but Georgeanne refuses to discuss it.


Quinn visits the site, located near a World War II Japanese internment camp that’s since been turned into a museum. There she unearths a weathered Japanese doll…and a skeleton. Before she can uncover a killer, she has to identify the victim. Was it an inmate trying to escape? A guard? Or someone closer to home? As Quinn fills in the blanks, she finds an unexpected link between her family and Chief Chestnut’s—one that could spell more deadly trouble…