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Murder, She Wrote: A Date with Murder


Murder, She Wrote: A Date with Murder

“Murder, She Wrote” aired on CBS for 12 highly successful seasons. During that time, Angela Lansbury set a record for the number of Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy and Golden Globe nominations she received for portraying mystery writer and denizen of Cabot Cove, Jessica Fletcher.

Beginning in 1989, novelizations of the Jessica Fletcher mysteries were “ghostwritten” by prolific author Donald Bain, who at times even shared writing credits with his wife and daughter. Just prior to his death in 2017, publishers approached bestselling author Jon Land about continuing the series. The resulting debut is this latest Murder, She Wrote novel, A DATE WITH MURDER.

Land not only does an admirable job of keeping with the spirit of Jessica Fletcher and the residents of the fictional New England town of Cabot Cove, but also injects the narrative with some modern plot elements. This will allow the work to reach a much wider audience as this well-written and intricately plotted mystery will appeal to loyal fans as well as newcomers to the series.

"Here's wishing Mr. Land much success and thanks on behalf of all Jessica Fletcher fans who may now continue to enjoy her literary adventures via his fertile imagination and expert plotting."

To give some quick background, Jessica Fletcher is a retired English teacher who has nicely settled into life as a bestselling mystery author. Because of her keen intellect and knowledge of the murder game, she finds herself continuously called upon by local law enforcement to assist with difficult cases.

The annual Labor Day party thrown by Barbara "Babs" and Hal Wirth is one of Jessica's favorite events to attend. Babs is a good friend, and Hal is a well-respected figure in the software technology world. She is impressed to see that tech giant Deacon Westhausen is even present at the party. Just as she is looking to say her goodbyes, she hears a cry from the kitchen. She and Babs enter to find Hal on the floor and unresponsive. EMTs and law enforcement show up, but Hal is already gone, suffering what appears to be a massive heart attack.

Jessica, being who she is, feels that something else may be going on and begins to sniff around to see what really happened to Hal. She is unable to get anything out of mutual friend Seth, who was also Hal’s physician and sworn to doctor-patient confidentiality. She gets the opportunity to question Hal's attorney, Lawrence Van Dyke, in the presence of the town sheriff, Mort Metzger --- an interesting meeting, especially considering the man turns out to be an imposter. Things get really interesting when Hal's business partner, Eugene Labine, turns up dead in what appears on the surface to be an accident.

Jessica quickly surmises that something Hal was working on had to be the cause of him being targeted for death. She also needs to get to the bottom of this quickly in order to keep the gossip-mongering local newspaper reporter, Eve Simpson, from spinning the events out of control in the town tabloid. Eve actually turns out to be a valuable ally as she was filming interviews with party guests and may have inadvertently captured the killer heading to the kitchen shortly after Hal went in there. The footage is hard to decipher, but it appears the man was dressed in the garb of the caterers who were working the party.

The answer may indeed lie in the world of technology, but not in the way Jessica originally thought. Digging into Hal's computer and paperwork reveals that he had created an account on a dating site called LOVEISYOURS. Jessica has Mort set up a meeting with the site’s creator, Sean Booker, but he is unable to find any proof that Hal had set up an account and solicited a date. With nowhere to turn after facing this dead end, Jessica reaches out to the boyfriend of Hal's daughter, Alyssa. Chad is a highly skilled hacker, or, as he refers to himself, a “ghost.” With his assistance, they are able to crack into LOVEISYOURS. What they turn up is just the tip of the iceberg of a deadly game.

Jessica is no stranger to danger, but the prying she has done in this case has brought unwanted attention from a killer who already has claimed a few victims and will have no problem silencing her as well. Be prepared, as this is no “tea cozy” mystery. Under the guiding hand of Jon Land, Jessica is placed in one dangerous circumstance after another, and A DATE WITH MURDER quickly becomes a genuine thriller that will keep readers going late into the evening before the big reveal at the end. Here's wishing Mr. Land much success and thanks on behalf of all Jessica Fletcher fans who may now continue to enjoy her literary adventures via his fertile imagination and expert plotting.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on May 4, 2018

Murder, She Wrote: A Date with Murder
by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain, and Jon Land

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 0451489276
  • ISBN-13: 9780451489272