The Murder of Twelve
Murder, She Wrote #51
By Jon Land and Jessica Fletcher
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In the latest entry in this USA Today bestselling series, Jessica Fletcher takes on an Agatha Christie-style mystery when she finds herself stranded in a hotel during a blizzard with twelve strangers and a killer in their midst….
Still staying at the Hill House hotel while her beloved home is being rebuilt, Jessica Fletcher finds herself sharing the space for a weekend with a dozen members of a wedding party who have gathered there for a rehearsal dinner. The families of the bride and groom can’t stand each other but have agreed to put aside years of long-simmering tension to celebrate the nuptials.
Unfortunately, weather forecasters underestimated the severity of a storm that turns into a historic blizzard that dumps nearly five feet of snow on Cabot Cove, leaving everyone stranded.
But the hotel guests have bigger things to worry about than bad weather conditions and potential cold feet, because a murderer has shown up uninvited–one who has vowed to take them down one by one….(from Goodreads)
In this thrilling offering of Murder She Wrote, Jessica Fletcher is confronted with being snowed in with a mass murderer when the storm of the century rips into Cabot Cove, Maine. An internationally known, best-selling mystery author, Jessica has solved many murders in this town with her long-time friends Dr. Seth Hazlitt, Sheriff Mort Metzger, and New York City PI Harry McGraw. It is a delight to hear the camaraderie between the characters that only time and shared experiences only enhances. This small-town, friendly setting is very appealing, and this time, the mystery is totally confounding.
The blizzard is predicted for the upcoming weekend, and Cabot Cove’s emergency services have done what they could to prepare. Mort, Seth, and Jessica met a deputy who found a car at an old industrial plant. The car has a body inside. There was evidence that the man died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Or it was the thought until Jessica noticed the adhesive remains of tape that had held the man to the car seat. He had gone inside the old mill but couldn’t find evidence of who he might have met. The only witness, picked up later that morning, was a homeless veteran, who was drunk and convinced he saw Bigfoot take the man down.
Jessica returned to Hill House, where she has a suite until her home reconstruction is complete. A well-dressed member of the wedding party staying for the weekend is seated near the door. She has a copy of Jessica’s novel asks her for her to autograph the book. The mother of the groom, Connie, is a sweet, personable woman. Her son and almost daughter-in-law have not arrived, even though their flight landed several hours earlier. The predicted snow was falling, and they didn’t answer their cell phones.
Jessica was surprised at the things her new friend shared after she was confronted by the father of the bride about her late husband’s nefarious business dealings. Connie’s husband had scammed millions from investors, and when word got out, he jumped from the Brooklyn Bridge. She and her twin sons, Daniel, the groom, and Mark, were left to handle the mess. She thought her life was in danger – but was interrupted again before she could say why.
Connie invited Jessica to join the wedding party for dinner. They did hear from the missing groom; Daniel and Allison checked into a motel to get out of the storm and will reassess going through with the marriage. At dinner, Connie got up to give the toast, had a seizure and lost consciousness. She was moved to her room, and Jessica noticed a chalky residue in Connie’s glass. Seth, snowed in, talked Jess through caring for Connie when she would regain consciousness. Not long after, Jessica, searching for Mark, found him dead in the gym.
Given the severity of the storm, the murderer had to be someone staying at Hill House. Jessica is on her own except for Seamus, part owner of Hill House, and a very large temp kitchen worker. Mort would try to get there on a snowmobile. A chilling warning is sent to the phones of each wedding party member still alive, making it clear that the killer doesn’t intend to let anyone in the hotel survive.
Characterizations are excellent. We continue to learn about Jessica, Mort, and Seth, and I enjoy their interactions. Harry is amazing and amusing, at times providing comic relief even as he provides invaluable help. The members of the wedding party are revealed throughout.
This is the most breathtaking in the series so far, and the hardest to put down! The isolation and silence from the storm were described so well, it was ominous. The suspense increased in direction proportion to the rising snow and harsh wind. It was a learning experience to read Jessica’s thoughts as she processed what she saw and heard. Plot twists muddle the suspect list, especially as suspects are murdered. I could have never figured out the entire situation of who was behind the murders and all the intricacies involved! The resolutions are satisfactory and there are no loose strings. This is the best Murder She Wrote so far; I highly recommend it!