Jessica Fletcher learns that exercise can be murder in this new entry in the USA Today bestselling Murder, She Wrote series.
Former editor of the Cabot Cove Gazette, Evelyn Phillips is back in Cabot Cove. Evelyn tells Jessica and Seth that she got a couple of really weird notes from Bertha Mae Cormier so she’s come back to town to check on her old friend. She demands that Jessica come with her to see Bertha Mae, who is a bit dithery but no more so than Jessica remembers her being in recent years.
Jessica does become somewhat concerned when Bertha Mae starts to talk about her new neighbor, Martin Terranova. He is quite charming and very health conscious and he teaches yoga and meditation in his pool house. Maureen Metzger says that she and Bertha Mae became friends in Terranova’s class and mentions how solicitous he is to his older clients.
Jessica attends one of his classes and does notice that Terranova is flirtatious with several elderly clients, especially Bertha Mae. Evelyn is becoming convinced that Bertha Mae is being mesmerized by Terranova and that he is after Bertha Mae’s money. A short while late, Martin turns up dead in his weight room. What at first blush seems to be an accident, soon proves to be murder and Jessica must put her investigative skills to the test when Evelyn becomes the prime suspect. (From Goodreads)
Every time I open a new mystery in this series, I know I will enjoy how every mystery is as fresh as the ones preceding it. Another is the wonderful, three-dimensional characters and how most people of Cabot Cove work together and help each other.
Cabot Cove’s new resident is fitness instructor Martin Terranova. He moved next door to a delightful senior, Bertha Mae, who has been friends for many years with Evelyn, the former editor of the Cabot Cove Gazette. After some of their recent communications, Evelyn flew back to find out what was wrong with her friend. She was writing and talking weird, and Evelyn wonder if she should no longer live alone.
Jessica didn’t see Bertha Mae often enough know anything was wrong until Evelyn arrived and asked Jessica to visit her. She was at the crucial research and synopsis preparation stage for her next mystery, but she listened and understood Evelyn’s concerns.
Martin opened a gym and yoga studio in the pool house of his luxury home. He offers substantial attention to older ladies in his classes. A caress here, a lightly massaged shoulder there, treating Bertha Mae as his favorite. Evelyn was concerned that Martin was making plans to live off Bertha Mae, especially when she talked about marrying a younger man.
Bertha Mae began to seem confused. Items of hers were disappearing. Her medicine bottles were hidden in odd places, and family memorabilia couldn’t be found. She fired her part-time housekeeper, accusing her of stealing, and Martin contacted the police claiming that a local man had some of Bertha Mae’s family treasures, which were found in his shed. It looked as if Martin were her hero and would-be caretaker, and Evelyn was concerned that he would steal her substantial assets.
Within days, Martin was found dead, possibly from an accident while lifting weights. Bertha Mae was devastated and became unable to function, especially when the autopsy indicated that he had been murdered. Had there been other women set up in a similar fashion? He had purchased his home with cash. Jessica, Mort, the local sheriff, and Dan, the newspaper editor, want to find who killed Martin, and restore another man’s reputation by proving he didn’t steal. A witness put Evelyn on Martin’s property the night he died. Was it the old snooping habits of an investigative reporter, or payback for what she thought he was doing to Bertha Mae?
The hours spent visiting Jessica and the people in Cabot Cove are among my favorite. I liked getting to know Dan, editor of the Cabot Cove Gazette, better. He made an excellent partner for Jessica’s “snooping”. Dan has access to many avenues of research that Jessica doesn’t. He is a newspaperman with scruples that others appreciate. Her longevity in Cabot Cove and knowledge of many of the departmental workings are invaluable to him.
Pierce, the new fire chief, Angus, the retired fire chief, and Dan needed her expertise in handling an embezzlement scheme for which Angus was set up to take the fall. Her years of involvement with the Fire Department could provide direction for them to deal with a thief in the town’s budget office.
Jessica continued to help learn who killed Martin and how best to help Bertha Mae. She is not alone in any of these ventures, and she is able to solicit help from others, especially those who know Bertha Mae better than she does, so she can get back to her new mystery.
The suspect list was short, as little evidence was found. Dan joined Jessica at some places, including those out of town, to help prove Evelyn innocent and learn more about Martin’s past. If they can find others he may have conned, it might point out the real killer. While I guessed who did kill Martin and why, this time it gave me no joy to be right. Every loose end for every challenge, including Jessica’s research and synopsis, were resolved. I highly recommend this mystery and series!