5 star rating

Design for Murder

Murder She Wrote, Book #45

By Donald Bain and Renee Paley-Bain

ISBN 9780451477811

Author’s website:

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie



In the newest in the USA Today bestselling mystery series, Jessica Fletcher visits New York City during fashion week, only to discover someone has rather fatal designs…

Jessica is in Manhattan to attend the debut of a new designer. Formerly Sandy Black of Cabot Cove, the young man has reinvented himself as Xandr Ebon, and is introducing his evening wear collection to the public and—more important—to the industry’s powers-that-be: the stylists, the magazine editors, the buyers, and the wealthy clientele who can make or break him. At the show, the glitz and glamour are dazzling until a young model—a novice, taking her first walk down the runway—shockingly collapses and dies. Natural causes? Perhaps. But when another model is found dead, a famous cover girl and darling of the paparazzi, the fashion world gets nervous.

Two models. Two deaths. Their only connection? Xandr Ebon. Jessica’s crime-solving instincts are put to the test as she sorts through the egos, the conflicts of interest, the spiteful accusations, and the secrets, all the while keeping an amorous detective at arm’s length. But she’ll have to dig deep to uncover a killer. A designer’s career is on the line. And another model could perish in a New York minute.


Exhilarating New York City during Fashion Week is the setting for the newest ‘Murder She Wrote: Design for Murder’. It is #45 in the series; quite an accomplishment! ‘Design for Murder’ can be read as a stand-alone; for anyone relatively new to the series – there are so many you can go back and enjoy after you have read and liked it.

Jessica Fletcher of Cabot Cove, Maine went to NYC with Maggie Black, the mother of Xandr Ebon, a young man originally known as Sandy Black from Cabot Cove whose evening wear designs were to be featured at a fashion show. Jessica’s nephew Grady had helped arrange for the show to be put together by a television commercial company. Grady, his wife Donna and their son Frank, named after Jessica’s late husband, live in NYC, so Jessica looks forward to spending time with them while in the Big Apple.

Unfortunately for Jessica, she just happens to be where suspicious deaths occurred. This trip would be no different. At the finale of the fashion show when the designers and models were all on the runway, the youngest model of Xandr’s on the runway collapsed and died. This spoiled, untrained yet beautiful 17 year old was the niece of a modeling public relations firm. At first glance, it was thought she perhaps had some sort of genetic heart defect that caused her death. Then another model in a different part of Manhattan died that same night. It is hard to imagine that two young models would die on the same day.  Enter Detective Aaron Kopecky who befriended Jessica when meeting her; the lonely widower had more in mind though than discussing the case with her. Jessica’s concern was for the young designer, she discovered more about his past, the more she wondered what connection he might have with the murders.

Jessica is a vivacious, personable woman who can be delightfully fun or diligent and wise, whatever the situation calls for. She is described best as the events unfold by way of her thoughts, conversations, and actions, and could easily step off off the pages. Characterizations for the central and peripheral folks are excellent. Each person is defined with excellence according to their role, most of whom are very likeable.

It was interesting to see reactions of various people introduced to Jessica Fletcher, especially those with NYPD. Some were fans eagerly looking to get her autograph in their copies of her books or tell her how much they enjoyed mysteries. Others didn’t think she knew enough about law enforcement, even touting how she made some of the police officers and detectives seem to bumble along. To Xandr and his mother, she had the ability to cut through the chatter to find the real bad guy or gal. There was no shortage of suspects within the inner circle of those who knew Xandr and the models. The twists and turns in the plot kept this reader stirred up and unable to pick out the “real” bad guy or gal, or determine whether the murders were related. The story moves along quickly, coming too quickly to a satisfying conclusion. I highly recommend Murder She Wrote: Design for Murder to everyone who likes Jessica Fletcher, or mature, wise and intelligent lady sleuths with a fun backdrop of Manhattan’s designer district.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*