Calling all super sleuths and puzzle addicts: looking to add a little wordplay to your next whodunit?
In the fiendishly clever mysteries of Nero Blanc, readers help crack the case and crossword puzzle clues. The series features gruff PI Rosco Polycrates and crafty crossword editor Annabelle Graham. Together, they set out to solve a string of crimes that leave local police stumped.
Each tale plants the sleuthing duo in the midst of a truly puzzling thriller. In Another Word for Murder, the key to a kidnapped doctor’s safety lies in a series of cryptic word games; in A Crossword to Die For, Belle and Rosco must crack mysterious crosswords sent from Belize to solve the death of Belle’s father; in Two Down, the pair race to unravel an acrostic that just might save a soap opera star lost at sea.
Blanc’s breezy mysteries are expertly crafted – the suspense builds slowly and Belle and Rosco’s witty romantic banter creates a cozy counterpoint to the murderous plots. But what makes this series a killer success are the interactive crosswords embedded in each narrative.
Readers encounter the crossword clues just as the sleuths receive them – and, like Belle, you are encouraged to break out that red pen and have a go. Since the puzzles are essential to unlocking each mystery, readers truly solve the case alongside the detectives.
As for the puzzle-head behind the series? Nero Blanc is actually the pseudonym of Steve Zettler and Cordelia Frances Biddle – a husband-wife duo of successful mystery authors. Zettler has penned a set of international thrillers, while Biddle created the Martha Beale historical mysteries. They joined forces over a shared affection for Agatha Christie-like cozies and crafty crosswords.
Think you have what it takes to crack the case and the crosswords? Check out a sample puzzle to test your skills, then dive right into the series.
And, hey, don’t worry if a seven-letter word for “October toothless one” leaves you so stumped you need to peek at the answer key. We won’t tell Belle.