Murder, She Wrote: Murder In Red
Murder She Wrote, Book #49
By Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
Author Website: jonlandbooks(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In the latest entry in this USA Today bestselling series, Jessica loses a loved one to unnatural causes and sets her sights on the mysterious local hospital before more people wind up dead on arrival…
Jessica Fletcher’s favorite gin rummy partner, Mimi Van Dorn, checks into the brand-new Clifton Care Partners, a private hospital that’s just opened up shop in town, for a simple procedure–one that leads tragically, and inexplicably, to her death. Seeking justice in her inimitable fashion, Jessica decides to pursue her own investigation on the hospital and its shadowy business dealings.
On the trail of what initially appears to be medical malpractice, Jessica digs deeper and learns her friend was actually a victim of something far more sinister. Death is bad for business, but murder is even worse, and Jessica will find plenty of both as she races to bring down Clifton Care Partners before someone else flatlines… (Goodreads)
Jessica Fletcher has been one of our favorite female sleuths for over three decades. She changes with the times in every way except that she still doesn’t drive. Jessica, a former substitute high school English, still rides her bicycle around Cabot Cove, Maine, and still takes the train to major metropolises such as Boston, DC, or the Big Apple. Each mystery is better than the last. Her delightful, challenging mysteries are interrelated. For example, in Murder in Red, we again see Chief Inspector George Sutherland from Scotland Yard, introduced to us – and to Jessica – in the 1990 series opener, Gin and Daggers. This time I learned something I hadn’t remembered from the past, that she is a jogger.
Dr. Seth Hazlitt, a close friend of Jessica, has been losing patients in recent months to Clifton Clinic/ Clifton Care Partners. Dr. Clifton opened the clinic just outside Cabot Cove less than a year ago, and it is incredibly popular for regenerative medicine and for clinical trials of serious or lethal diseases. It is also known among those with the best insurance available or the ability to pay cash for their services.
Jean O’Neal, former librarian in Cabot Cove, was well-known and loved. After suffering for years with MS, she finally retired when she could not physically do the work. Jean was a patient at Clifton, participating in a trial that gave her several months of life with a better quality until succumbing to her disease. Most folks in Cabot Cover attended her funeral, then headed to the library for the reception.
Mimi Van Dorn moved to town nearly 10 years ago. She and Jessica bonded through their love of books, volunteering for Friends of the Library, and playing cards. Jessica discovers how little she really knew Mimi. When they were leaving the funeral, Jessica saw Mimi during an angry conversation on her cell phone. Mimi stepped into the road as an old Jeep Cherokee came around the corner, revved the engine, and raced directly to Mimi. Jessica dashed after her and pushed Mimi out of the way. Mimi went back to her heated call, and Jessica saw her at the library reception.
Mimi is now a patient of Dr. Clifton. The specialist has her off caffeine, sugar, and gluten. Seth had been treating her for diabetes for quite some time, but Mimi was a challenge, not wanting to give everything up. Seth speculates that she is going to the clinic for regenerative – primarily cosmetic – medicine. When Mimi has a seizure at the at the reception, Seth gives CPR until the EMT’s take over. At the hospital, she is in a coma, but at least stable.
It is when Jessica goes into the hospital that she sees George Sutherland coming into the hospital, a special friend she was thinking of a short time earlier. He is at Cabot Cove Hospital to see Dr. Clifton and have tests done that can’t be done at Clifton Clinic. George has a room already at Hill House, where Jessica is staying while her home undergoes extensive repairs. He promised to call her when he was done at the hospital.
Not only did George not call or return to his room at Hill House, Seth called early the next morning with the shocking news that early that morning, Mimi died at the hospital. It is noted that the plug for the ventilator was pulled almost out of the socket, but its alarm had not sounded, suggesting murder. According to security tapes, only the nurse making regular rounds had been there, and Dr. Clifton, claiming to be unable to sleep, was there to see how she was doing. Seth believes Clifton is at fault, and George, his new patient, is missing. As Jessica tries to find who tried to run Mimi over and locate George, she learns some of Mimi’s secrets, including the adult son she never talked about.
The author shows throughout how Jessica’s thought processes work, especially as she seeks to discover what or who killed Mimi, where George is, why he is in Cabot Cove, and exactly what kinds of trials Clifton conducts at his clinic. I find Jessica’s musings interesting as she considers this stage of her life and her friends. Even after almost 50 novels, there is something more to learn about Jessica, Seth, Mort, Cabot Cove’s sheriff, and Harry McGraw, the best PI Jessica has worked with. Clifton, Tripp, Fred and others specific to this novel are defined as well as necessary.
This mystery captivated me from the beginning and held my attention throughout. It is fast-paced, with stunning plot twists that keep it fresh and exciting. I like how observant Jessica is, and wish I had the talent of seeing and processing the clues as she does. She and George have made a good team over the years, able to discuss cases and bounce ideas off each other. There were a couple things I did figure out, but Mimi’s secrets were a challenge, as well as what happened to her and where George is – a man with a secret or two of his own. The end brought a huge surprise I didn’t anticipate; overall, I was very satisfied with the resolution. I highly recommend this mystery and am looking forward to many more!