Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Book Review: Murder in Red by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land (Murder, She Wrote #49)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery; familiar characters
Cons: A bit too much ruminating, a bit slow to start
The Bottom Line:
When friend is murdered
Jessica leaps to action
Fun, gripping story

Can Jessica Solve One Friend’s Murder to Save Another?

Thirteen years ago this month, Jessica Fletcher solved her last murder – on TV.  Thanks to the magic of tie-in novels, she has kept right on solving baffling cases, and Murder in Red in the latest of her exploits.

Jessica is feeling sad and a bit philosophical when the book opens since she is at a funeral.  Shockingly, it is a funeral of someone who died of natural causes, but it has still caused her to reflect on life and resolve to spend some time with those who holds dear.

However, the reception isn’t over before Mimi Van Dorn collapses.  She and Jessica are friends, serving together of the Friends of the Library Board.  Mimi is in a coma, but she takes a turn for the worse that night.  Dr. Seth Hazlett thinks Mimi had a little help, and Jessica quickly finds evidence that confirms his theory that Mimi’s death was murder.

Seth wasn’t happy because Mimi was one of his many patients who had been leaving his practice in favor of the Clifton Clinic that just opened up on the outskirts of Cabot Cove.  As Jessica tries to figure out what happened to her friend, she begins to wonder if Seth has good reason to not trust the clinic.  Or is there a secret from Mimi’s past that lead to her murder?  With another good friend going to the clinic for medical help, Jessica will have to figure things out quickly.

Despite being a fan of the TV show for years, this is only the third book I’ve read, so I don’t know if this has always been true or not, but I’ve noticed that in the three books I’ve read, we’ve spent a lot of time in Cabot Cove, Maine.  On one hand, I love that town and the characters there, but on the other, I keep defending the town as not being as deadly as everyone thinks since Jessica spent so much time traveling during the TV series.  The books are trying to prove me wrong!  Actually, there are some jokes in the book about the town’s high murder rate, and I must admit I laughed at them.  The trail does lead Jessica out of state, so we spend time traveling, mostly in New England, but the heart of the action is in Cabot Cove.

I have also found that the victims in the books I’ve read are closer to Jessica than in the TV show.  Usually in the show, she was trying to clear family or friends of murder, here, friends seem to be the victims.  This gives the book more of a somber tone, but it also still drives Jessica to solve the murder.  She learns some surprising things about Mimi along the way to the ultimate solution, which was logical and had an action-packed climax.  I question whether Jessica could have really pulled that climax off, but this is fiction, so I’ll let it slide.

This is the first book I’ve read that features George Sutherland, a Scotland Yard inspector who was introduced in the books and has been an occasional love interest for Jessica, something that has apparently divided fans.  (Personally, I always thought she’d get together with one of the characters from the show, so her having a love life again doesn’t surprise me.)  Anyway, I had to look him up to see who he was.  That’s what I get for jumping into the series of books so late, right?  Anyway, I enjoyed meeting him.  Naturally, we get to see Seth Hazlitt and Sheriff Mort Metzger again.  I found their relationship with Jessica to be much closer to the TV series in this book than the last book, which I was happy to see.  The rest of the cast are strong as well; there isn’t a weak character in the bunch.

When I’ve reviewed the last two books, I’ve commented on the foul language that was scattered throughout, surprising since it was out of place for this franchise.   I was happy to find this book was completely free of foul language.

As much as I enjoyed this book, I did find the beginning a tad slow, partially because Jessica spent time ruminating on life.  She ruminates some other times over the course of the book; I know this is supposed to be part of her character development, but it was feeling a bit forced to me here.  Fortunately, the plot did build and I was very hooked before too much time passed and once again couldn’t put it down the closer I got to the end.

Over the twelve years of Murder, She Wrote on TV, Jessica Fletcher build a loyal fan base.  Any of those fans will be happy to pick up Murder in Red and revisit this old friend.  I know I was.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.


Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of this book to give away.  Because it is a physical book, the contest is limited to residence of the US.

Just leave me a comment with your e-mail address so I can get in touch with you if you win.  I will pick the winner Tuesday June 4th, so please leave your comment before midnight Pacific Time on 6/4.  You will have until midnight on 6/9 to get back to me, or I will choose a new winner on 6/10.


  1. Looking forward to more crimes being solved by Jessica, thanks to Jon Land. =) Great review, thank you for sharing! konecny7(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. I watched every episode of Murder, She Wrote so, naturally, I am interested in getting books that created each show! All I do is read (and usually review) clean mystery books. (Some mild language is okay, I just hate ones that every other word is vulgar. That I feel is unnecessary and doesn't add to the story!) Thank you for the opportunity to win!

  3. I've read some of the Donald Bain Murder, She Wrote books, but not those by Jon Land. Thanks for the chance! mbradeen [at] yahoo [dot] com

  4. Love Murder She Wrote & the mystery books. Thanks for this amazing chance. lindamay4852@yahoo.com

  5. Thank you for the chance I love to read mysteries. Donamaekutska7@gmail.com

  6. Thanks for sharing the review. I'd love a chance to win, but do not share my email address openly. Every day, I have too many spam emails. Hopefully, I'll be able to purchase the book.

  7. I've really been enjoying the Murder She Wrote books and I loved the show. You're right about the victims being close to Jessica - in the show they're almost always strangers.

  8. Love all her books and I remember watching the tv show with my mom. Its what got me started reading cozies!
    clarksrfun at gmail dot com

  9. I enjoy the show, but have never read one of the books. It's time I remedy that. Thanks for the giveaway! turtle6422 at gmail dot com

  10. Taylor R. WilliamsMay 28, 2019 at 3:02 PM

    I loved that show, so can't wait to read the book. Thank you for the contest. trwilliams69 at msn dot com

  11. Love Jessica Fletcher’s crime solving! She will always be one of my favorites. She’s friend, family, teacher and detective all rolled into one.

  12. I love Jessica Fletcher! Would love to read "Murder In Red".

  13. I love Murder She Wrote! ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Can’t wait to read this one!! I’ve been a fan of the books since the 90s. Jon Land has done a great job taking over for the late great Donald Bain!!


  16. Been watching and reading these since I was a kid. Ready for this one.

  17. I’d love to read this! Legallyblonde1961 at yahoo dot com

  18. Always have liked Jessica Fletcher.
    Read her for years.

  19. I loved Murder, She Wrote. I have the television series and have watched the shows a number of times over the years. I've also read some of the Jessica Fletcher books. Although I did enjoy the books, they weren't up to par with the show. Probably the best book I read was Murder on the QE2.
    (Just wanted to comment. No need to enter me in the contest.)

  20. I just browsed this at Barnes and Noble today. I loved watching the show, and still watch the reruns. I’ve read all of the books, they really make you feel like you’re a resident of Cabot Cove. stsnwoman@gmail.com

  21. I am a huge Murder She Wrote Fan...I own all the DVD's and I am so glad from the sound of this they are returning more to the original plots...no foul language, Cabot Cove... which I love etc. Thank you for the giveaway.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com