Killer on the Court
Murder She Wrote #55
By Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran
Author’s Website: terriefarleymoran.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Jessica Fletcher’s sunny beach vacation with her nephew’s family takes a dark turn in this new installment in the USA Today bestselling series.
Jessica is delighted when her nephew Grady invites her to spend a few days with his family in an oceanside New York bungalow. She packs her bags and heads down to the city, ready to spend some quality time with Grady, his wife, Donna, and their young son, Frank.
But the morning after Jessica’s arrival, Donna finds her boss dead on a tennis court, and Jessica’s dreams of a relaxing visit are quashed. Everyone in the small beachside community is a suspect, and the local authorities—headed by an old colleague of Cabot Cove sheriff Mort Metzger—have asked that no one leave town. Will Jessica be able find a killer and salvage the rest of her trip? (From Goodreads)
Wow! Was I ever impressed with this newest in the Murder She Wrote series! The mystery was satisfyingly complex with several possible suspects. Even with this series being well into the double digits, there is always something new to learn about the characters or something new they are trying. The beach setting was delightful, and I enjoyed spending time with Jessica’s family and new friends.
Jessica’s nephew Grady, his wife Donna, and their son Frank are spending a month at the Rockaways, courtesy of Donna’s employer as a surprise bonus for her work on a special project. The CEO offered her the use of one of their bungalows near the beach. Grady will be there when he is not at work. Jessica will join them as soon as she finishes work on her next bestselling mystery.
Frank adores his great aunt Jessica and can’t wait to show her around. Among other things, he is looking forward to taking her to the community center’s summer art classes that he attends. One of the first events is dinner with Matilda Courtland, the matriarch of the family Donna works for. Matilda, an engaging octogenarian, was thrilled to meet one of her favorite authors and hopes Jessica will sign some of her books.
The following morning, Jessica and Frank are building a bridge at the beach when they heard Donna scream. They found her at the tennis court where she had just discovered James, the company CEO, and Matilda’s oldest son, dead. At first, it appears that he was killed by a malfunctioning tennis training machine that was still hurling dozens of balls at a potentially deadly velocity and frequency.
Jessica’s well-honed observations were not appreciated by the detective in charge. Suspicious of her, Vinny called Mort Metzger, the sheriff of Jessica’s Cabot Cove, Maine, residence, as Vinny knew Mort when he was an NYPD detective. Mort’s recommendations took Vinny by surprise, and he began to see Jessica as an asset, especially when she was correct in that Jason did not die from a machine malfunction. The machine had been used as a murder weapon.
Jessica is one of my favorite fictional characters and sleuths. It was interesting to see how she observes the world around her and puts clues together. The author paints three-dimensional character portraits of Jessica, Grady, and his family. The Fletcher family has not enjoyed a vacation together for a while, so I was particularly delighted to spend time with Grady, Donna, and Frank. The Courtland family, and those associated with them and their company, are revealed slowly throughout.
Cabot Cove is a much different environment than the Rockaways. Those who live in Cabot Cove are used to Jessica’s talent to help find and put together clues related to murders, especially Sheriff Mort Metzger and old friend and local physician Seth Hazlitt. The detectives on Long Island have not experienced any civilian like Jessica before and may never do so again!
Plot twists contribute to the increasing number of suspects, especially when it is learned that Jason had been pursuing financial anomalies at the company. Jason’s brother and brother-in-law are in hot disputes over which of them will take over the company, which could potentially reveal one of them being guilty of misappropriating funds and killing Jason to cover their tracks. This multifaceted case had a minimum of clues that, if read carefully, might show who killed Jason and why, and just where the money problems are. I was happy to find that I had guessed part of the solution but not all of it. There were surprises awaiting me, yet I was overall very happy with the outcome. Kudos, Terrie Farley Moran, on this excellent mystery! I highly recommend it to fans of Jessica Fletcher, the author, and well-written mysteries!