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Sun, May. 13th, 2012, 10:48 am
Review: "The Puzzler's Mansion" by Eric Berlin

My friend Eric Berlin's third YA novel in his series "The Puzzling World of Winston Breen," The Puzzler's Mansion, came out last week. As with the other books in the series, Eric has written a YA mystery whose plot revolves around Winston having to solve puzzles, with additional incidental puzzles dropped in for those who like that sort of thing.

The story was enjoyable, the writing crisp. And Winston is growing up; it's great to see that the Winston of this book has matured compared to when we first met him. He's still friends with Mal and Jake, but their friendship is evolving as well. This not only keeps the narrative fresh, but it help to make Winston believable as a human being.

The context this time is that Winston has been invited to a weekend of puzzle-solving, but someone starts stealing the prizes. It reminded me in a few spots of Dorothy Sayers's Peter Wimsey short story, "The Necklace of Pearls" (which is a good thing). More than that I won't say here.

The first couple of chapters felt a little slow, but once the main event got underway, the pages flew by, and I was sad to reach the end. The puzzles were fun, as one expects from Eric (not just in his books, but in the NYTimes and for the National Puzzlers' League conventions); as in the previous books, though, if solving puzzles isn't your thing, you can just read the book and let Winston solve them for you.

Congratulations to Eric on another fine story. As I said at the top of this review, Eric is a friend of mine, but even if he weren't, I'd highly recommend this book for anyone who is or ever has been a young adult.

Mon, May. 14th, 2012 04:53 pm (UTC)

I think this was the best Winston Breen book to date. I can't wait to see what happens next.