Murder She Wrote: Debonair in Death

Murder She Wrote #54

By Terrie Farley Moran

ISBN 9780593333624

Author’s Website:

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


When a local art shop owner is murdered, Jessica Fletcher is surprised to once again be working alongside her old friend MI-6 agent Michael Haggerty to solve the case in the newest mystery in this USA Today bestselling series.

When Nelson Penzell, co-owner of a local art and treasure store in Cabot Cove, is murdered, the nail tech from Jessica Fletcher’s favorite beauty parlor is the main suspect. After all, she’s the one who ran out of the store screaming, covered in blood, and holding the murder weapon. Jessica is positive that despite the circumstances, Coreen can’t possibly be guilty, and is determined to prove it.

When Michael Haggerty, handsome MI-6 agent and Jessica’s old friend, is caught snooping around the victim’s home, it’s quickly apparent to her that she was right. Nelson has always had a bit of a reputation for being a rake, but Haggerty is sure his sins go far beyond what anyone in town imagined. If she wants to clear Coreen’s name, Jessica will have to work alongside Michael to find out who killed Nelson–and maybe help bust a crime ring in the process.


It was wonderful! I greatly enjoyed this latest offering in the Murder She Wrote series. The mystery was plotted and executed with excellence and kept me guessing throughout. The characters are defined very well, and I was happy to see a couple of Jessica Fletcher’s long-time friends who occasionally grace the pages. I could understand small-town life a little better from different points of view, especially the sheriff who knows and may be friends with many in the community.

Jessica had barely heard about Nelson Penzell the first time before he was gone. He appealed to ladies of a certain age and used his good looks and charm on ladies of all ages. He lived in Cabot Cove for a relatively short time and had entered into a business partnership with Angus Michaud. Angus’s shop used to be called This and That Shop, but Nelson had changed it to La Peinture. The French name and the fine art he brought increased the shop’s clientele, especially the ladies! Jessica learned about him from Eve, the local Realtor, who has been trying to get to have a private chat with him for quite some time. Why she sounded like a smitten schoolgirl!

Over the next few days, Jessica saw or overheard Nelson’s encounters with four different people, including his business partner and three women of various ages. None of them left Jessica with a positive view of him. Hours after the fourth encounter, Nelson was found dead in his shop. Coreen, the young assistant of Loretta at the beauty salon, had gone to his shop to do his scheduled manicure. Moments later, she came out of the shop screaming, covered in Nelson’s blood, and holding a heavy candlestick that was determined to be the murder weapon.

Loretta changed from a business/ boss relationship with Coreen into a mother hen. Coreen, hysterical and unable to talk, was considered the only suspect in the murder. Loretta gained permission to keep Coreen at her home until she could speak and be questioned. There was no room for doubt in the minds of Loretta, Jessica, and all who know Coreen. The quiet, somewhat naïve young woman didn’t do it. While they knew what the evidence pointed to, they were certain that someone else did it. With a good attorney that Loretta will help pay for, Loretta desperately wants Jessica to find who really killed the womanizer.

Jessica is my favorite, but it is hard to choose second favorite. We learn more about the regular characters; there are always little changes that keep people – and series – interesting. Jessica’s talent to see and hear things that many people miss, her exacting attention to detail and considering “what-if”, make her the excellent mystery writer and sleuth she is. She, Seth, the local doctor, and Mort, the sheriff, are great friends. It is refreshing to see a sheriff willing to listen to, and consult with, Jessica. I did miss the ever-helpful Harry, her favorite PI. I liked seeing Loretta in a different behavior than the business owner and hairstylist and getting to know Coreen. I do hope we see George more often!

We have complex mysteries requiring complex solutions, including the possibility of a smuggling ring trading international secrets in little Cabot Cove. Is Nelson’s murder related to this, or to one of many women scorned? Are Michael’s investigations parallel with or separate from Nelson’s killer? Michael provides comic relief, as Harry does when he is part of Jessica’s investigations. I love to see Jessica’s thinking process, both in the preparation of the synopsis for her next novel and for considering who really killed Nelson. There are several possibilities, and I kept one person as a last resort who turned out to be the killer. I highly recommend this latest Jessica Fletcher adventure!