Murder, She Wrote: Death on the Emerald Isle
Murder, She Wrote #56
By Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Jessica Fletcher is quick to accept an invitation to replace a speaker who couldn’t attend a Book Festival in Belfast, Ireland. When her Cabot Cove neighbor Maeve O’Bannon hears about the trip, she asks Jessica to deliver some paintings to her family in the village of Bushmills. Happy to extend her travels and see more of the Irish countryside, Jessica agrees.
The festival goes off without a hitch, and it seems like Jessica is in for a relaxing vacation. But then Maeve’s cousin Michael is discovered dead under suspicious circumstances. Jessica finds herself once again in the midst of a murder investigation, and she’ll have to dig into the O’Bannon family’s secrets to unmask the killer. (From Goodreads)
Each novel by Terrie Farley Moran in this series is better than the last! In this episode, Jessica Fletcher goes to a place I’ve wanted to visit for many years. Seeing it through the eyes of Jessica and the author is the next best thing to being there. I enjoyed the sights, sounds, and scents of Ireland, as well as the cultural delights including the trad, the dancers, and the foods typical to Ireland. The characters, of course, keep me coming back every time!
Lorna, an author and friend of Jessica, has to cancel her plans to go to Ireland at the last minute. She asked Jessica to attend the Belfast Book Festival in her place, accept her award, and participate on a panel about American cozy mysteries. When Maeve, her next-door neighbor, learned that Jessica was going to Belfast, she had a special favor to ask. Maeve has no children to leave any of her family heirlooms to, so she asked Jessica to take a side trip see her cousins and deliver paintings that her grandfather had painted as a wedding present to her parents.
Jessica’s days in Belfast were uneventful; she did some sightseeing and attended the festival. Owen, the son of one of Maeve’s cousins, drove Jessica from Belfast to Bushmills, and she stayed at a charming inn where Owen’s fiancée Maggie worked. She met the O’Bannon cousins that evening when they had a business dinner. The O’Bannon family business, Marine Magic, was about to merge with a company from France, Bella Visage. Jessica was going to meet with just the family another time to receive the paintings, per Maeve’s request. It didn’t quite happen as they planned, however. The next morning while riding a bicycle through the countryside, Jessica found Dr. Michael O’Bannon, the public face and medical advisor of the company, dead in his car.
It was quickly determined that Michael was murdered during the night. The chief inspector quickly noted Jessica’s observations of the vehicle and the O’Bannon family, so while clearing her of being a suspect, he took advantage of what she learned about the family. Due to the trauma of their cousin being murdered, Jessica had to wait before following Maeve’s wishes for the paintings. She was invited to the O’Bannon family’s gatherings and even joined the Frenchmen negotiating their part of the merger to see one of the local spectacular sites. Almost every person she spoke with was an opportunity for Jessica to learn about Michael and who may have killed him. There were many shadows and secrets in his life, some of which could have been cause for his murder.
Jessica is the only regular character that we see for more than a chapter this time; she and those she met in Ireland were defined perfectly according to their roles. Jessica is shown as three-dimensional for the first-time reader as for the long-time fan. One thing I noticed specifically this time is how genuinely personable Jessica is, even when she doesn’t know anybody. She can also be polite to the most obnoxious people. After a relatively short time with Maeve’s family, Owen and Maggie wanted her to return to Ireland with Maeve for their wedding.
This was a fascinating mystery in many ways, especially since Jessica is far from home. Plot twists and turns added more suspects and motives to the mix than I thought possible, but not so many that I couldn’t keep up with them. I was almost certain who the bad guy was while suspects were still being sifted and considered a couple who seemed like excellent choices. I liked how Jessica kept people apprised of where she was, and that someone was very nearby in a situation that could turn sideways. The resolution was perfect, with every unusual occurrence addressed. I highly recommend this novel, which can be read as a standalone, as can any others in the series.