A Grid for Murder
Casey Mayes

ISBN-13: 978-0425251645
Publisher: Penguin Group
Line: Berkley
Release Date: Oct 2, 2012
Pages: 228
Retail Price: 7.99


Savannah Stone makes her living creating puzzles for logic lovers. But when a novice puzzle maker’s number is up, Savannah has to fill in the blanks to solve a murder...

Savannah would almost rather drink poison than have tea with Joanna Clayton. Not only is the unpleasant woman one of the worst gossips in Asheville, North Carolina, over tea she flaunts her new assignment creating logic puzzles for a local newspaper—one that has repeatedly turned down Savannah’s work.

But when Savannah’s retired police chief husband, Zach, calls her later to tell her Joanna has actually been poisoned, she is more than puzzled—she’s troubled. Will the police consider puzzle envy a strong enough motive and think she decided to eliminate the competition? It’s time for Savannah to sort through Joanna’s long list of enemies to find out who was bitter enough to poison the prospective puzzle maker . . .

Series: A Mystery by the Numbers



Freelance puzzle creator Savannah Stone is happily married to Zach, a retired police chief, and is loving life in Parson’s Valley, North Carolina. One afternoon while running an errand to nearby Asheville, Savannah is approached by a not so friendly acquaintance, Joanne Clayton. Savannah and Joanne share a table at an outdoor café, where Joanne boasts to Savannah that she is getting into the puzzle-creating business. Joanne is later found dead – a victim of poisoning. Joanne had plenty of enemies, but nobody seems to have both the motive and the opportunity, except for Savannah! Now Savannah must use her skills of deduction to find the real murderer before she is blamed for a crime she didn’t commit. Luckily, her husband Zach is by her side also trying to find proof that someone else killed Joanne.

Savannah’s quest to find Joanne’s murderer is fun and full of red herrings. Savannah is a thorough investigator and it’s interesting following along with Savannah as she does the necessary research and questioning of suspects in order to find the guilty party. I admire Savannah for her persistence, but I sometimes cringe at how blunt she is when questioning witnesses who are supposed to be her friends. She definitely uses the “accuse first, ask questions later” approach to investigation which understandably angers some of the people of Parson’s Valley. I wish I could have taken her aside and told her to tone it down a bit! However, combined with information she learns from her husband Zach, Savannah’s assertive technique works, and she is able to find out things the local police can’t.

Savannah and Zach make a good team, both in their marriage and in solving crimes. Savannah is smart, logical, inquisitive, and deeply in love with her husband. Zach is also intelligent and hard-working, loves Savannah and is supportive of her. To solve this murder, Savannah and Zach work separately and share the information they find, but don’t do a lot of questioning of possible suspects together. Seeing them work side-by-side would have made the book even more enjoyable. However, it’s still nice to have main characters who are a happily married couple who are so devoted and loyal to each other, similar to the relationship between Carolyn Hart’s Max and Annie Darling.

The mystery is even more interesting because of the victim. Joanne is hard to get along with and not above a little blackmail to get her way, so there is a wide field of possible suspects in her murder. I liked that she is not portrayed as a totally evil person, and it’s her good qualities make the reader sad Joanne’s life was cut short by a murderer. Casey Mayes is a pseudonym of Tim Myers, so readers of his other cozy series will want to give this one a try. Fans of Ada Madison and Carolyn Hart will also find this mystery appealing. As a bonus, there are a few puzzles in the back of the book. The math puzzles were okay, but I found the instructions on how to solve them to be confusing. However, the mystery-related puzzles at the back perfectly complement the book and were fun to work.

Reviewed by Christine