Murder, She Wrote: Death of a Blue Blood
Murder, She Wrote, Book #42
By Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
Author’s website: www.donaldbain.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In the newest mystery in the USA Today bestselling series, Jessica Fletcher is invited to ring in the New Year with British aristocracy. Too bad someone’s about to end the life of the party….
Jessica Fletcher and her friend Scotland Yard detective inspector George Sutherland are invited to attend a New Year’s Eve Ball at Castorbrook Castle, thanks to her British publisher. Shortly after arriving in the idyllic English countryside, Jessica discovers the body of a lady’s maid in the garden.
While their host, Lord Norrance, his snobbish third wife, other members of the household, and party guests squabble over the tragic death in tight-lipped, perfectly mannered, thoroughly British style, family relations are strained as old wounds are reopened and cutting remarks are freely handed out. And that’s only during teatime!
As midnight beckons at the ball the next night, the earl offers a toast, complete with fireworks. But the merriment crashes to a halt when he falls ill and dies, apparently poisoned—and the number of suspects with a grudge against the lord of the manor sprouts like English ivy.
Now it’s up to Jessica and George to find the killer—or killers—before another corpse welcomes in the New Year….
This extremely well-written mystery is the 42nd in the Murder, She Wrote series, but the first that I’ve read; had I known how much I would enjoy this, I would have started reading this series sooner! Jessica Fletcher is the fictional character at the heart of these wonderful books who “writes” her adventures and the mysteries she has solved in first person. This approach has helped me quickly come to know Jessica and some of her journey.
In Death of a Blue Blood, Jessica travels to England for a New Year’s Eve ball at Castorbrook Castle with Lord and Lady Norrance, their family, and more than 100 of their friends and business associates. Jessica’s companion is Scotland Yard Detective Inspector George Sutherland, who she met years before when attending a mystery writer’s convention in London and she finds her mentor, Marjorie Ainsworth, dead in her room (‘Gin and Daggers’) They have stayed in touch over the years, and could easily be romantically involved if only they could figure out how to do so with the ‘pond’ between them.
Within moments of being shown to their rooms at the castle, Jessica looks out her window and sees a purple cloth in the garden below, then at the foot and leg belonging to the wearer of the purple. Jessica was “accidentally” locked out of the door she left propped open when racing to help the woman. Unfortunately, this important member of the household was already dead. Jessica analyzed the situation with George, who could assist the local inspectors. They were on hand, however, to hear the sniping and backbiting within the family over the family financial feud…as the tension of preparing for the ball intensified. Thus began the holiday; the local police continued interviewing all in the castle, with those in charge of the case actually attended the ball. They were too late to stop the death of Earl…and this time, George and Jessica will be in the thick of the investigation, as they were near the Earl when he died.
The author gives an excellent portrayal of the characters, especially Jessica, George, and how Jessica works through the clues she is able to see. The Earl’s family members were mysteries unto themselves; we catch glimpses of them occasionally in the beginning. As the ball progressed, one could see some of the true personalities of the sons and daughter. After the Earl’s death, the family sequesters themselves away from guests remaining at the castle. I very much enjoyed Jessica’s ease of conversing with almost anyone and draw them out, including some of the people in the village. It went beyond the ‘investigation’; she was genuinely interested in those she met.
The author portrays the setting expertly; descriptives were so detailed that, except in the moments that the cab and mobiles were used, it was as if one were seeing castle life in another century. I actually shook my head at one point to return to the present! The castle itself, the various meals, the village shops, and the proper English all contributed to that feeling. Another help was how the author could gently show how valuable the British sense of titles and authority is and to what degree that level of position and propriety played in the plot.
This mystery kept my attention from beginning to end. I couldn’t come up with the bad guy/ gal or the entire motive until Jessica asked questions that were more pointed based on the answers she received. I do like being able to puzzle out the whodunit and appreciated that I could figure it out shortly after Jessica did. The mystery was complex and the motives sad when considering the loss of lives and how that affected so many. Overall, I completely enjoyed Death of a Blue Blood and highly recommend it to fans of Jessica Fletcher and mystery lovers of all ages. This can be enjoyed by those who like the setting of an English countryside and writing that draws the reader in with suspense that builds throughout. This is not your grandma’s mystery series; Jessica Fletcher is definitely a 21st century thinker!