Murder, She Wrote: The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher
Murder, She Wrote, Book #44
By Donald Bain and Renee Paley-Bain
Author Website: www.donaldbain.com
In the USA Today bestselling Murder, She Wrote series—make room for Jessica Fletcher as she cleans house to catch a killer who hasn’t got a ghost of a chance.
Jessica’s friend, Eve Simpson is the town’s premiere real estate agent and has recently taken on the task of selling one of Cabot Cove’s oldest properties—the Spencer Percy House, built in 1805 by a sea captain for his young wife. Its current occupant, Cliff Cooper, a crusty former carpenter, is convinced he’s about to die and wants the house sold so he can give the proceeds to his grandson, who spent much of his youth there.
But Eve’s got quite a challenge on her hands. Not only is the building in deplorable physical condition, it is also rumored to be haunted.
When Cliff’s deadly premonition becomes a reality, Dr. Seth Hazlitt is not so sure the man died of natural causes. As Jessica tries to get to the bottom of Cliff Cooper’s death, a medium hired by Eve attempts to rid the house of the alleged apparition. But if Jessica isn’t careful, she may be the one who joins the ranks of the dearly departed. (from Goodreads, name correction by reviewer)
Jessica Fletcher in a haunted house? And planning to have a book sale there on Halloween, no less! Hold the pages; a psychic is on the way? Jessica Fletcher visited her long-time friend and fan, Cliff Cooper, when he was in the rehab between hospital and home. There was one little problem; he believed he would not live long enough to go home. He dictated a brief will to Jessica, primarily requesting that his home of many years be sold and the proceeds given to his grandson and heir.
Cliff was right; he only lived a few days after Jessica wrote down his last requests. Eve Simpson, the local realtor, began the nearly overwhelming work of preparing Cliff’s house for market. Jessica would organize sorting and preparing for a huge library benefit sale. Eve hired Geraldo “Tony” Tonelero to do jack-of-all-trade repairs and he would stay in the barn on the nights he worked. Ariana Olynski, the psychic and her ever-ready camera man and nephew would handle identifying the spirit(s). No, Jessica was not on board with having the interesting woman going through the home, but would come to a truce only if Ariana agreed to not include Jessica or her name in any filming. Cliff’s doctor and Jessica aren’t sure if Cliff died of natural causes. Then Elliott, Cliff’s grandson and heir, arrived after his cross-country motorcycle trip to return from Alaska. And as Jessica sorts books, she makes a grisly find – a ghost might have almost been preferable!
‘The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher’ was a delightful and suspenseful read that ended to quickly. It is 44th in the ‘Murder, She Wrote’ series, but one does not have to read preceding ones (or to have watched the tv show) to be brought quickly up to speed. The writing style is top-notch; I enjoy Jessica’s first person account with the detail and precision of the former English instructor that she is. The story drew me in from the beginning, and held my attention so close that one late night I finally dozed off while reading, then picked it up and had to finish the chapter I was in when it hit the floor!
Jessica is a straightforward worman – what you see and hear is who you get. She absolutely did not believe in ghosts, which I appreciate. She has a fine sense of humor, and is very wise and intelligent. She is also a woman who helps out where she can, as do many in her home town of Cabot Cove. Seeing the mystery, the town, and their friends through Jessica’s eyes is enlightening, but even she holds some things very close. I was so sure that I knew who the bad guy/ gals might be, and it certainly looked as though the right one(s) sat in lockup. Jessica still had some surprises up her sleeve.
This was a very well-executed mystery. It flowed well; there were no slow spots at all. While I did follow the details as best as I could, there are always surprises in such a skillfully-written novel. The final plot twists came totally out of left field (for me), and I was somewhat stunned at the outcome. This is a book, and a series, that I highly recommend! If you have enjoyed reading any prior Jessica Fletcher mysteries, or appreciate very tightly-written novels that draw the reader in and keep their attention to the end, you can’t go wrong with ‘The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher’. This is a series that has proven the test of time and I hope to see many more in the future as I catch up with earlier ones! Jessica is not a little old lady; instead, she has been propelled into the grand role of a progressive, tech-savvy sleuth of the 21st century.