Thursday, June 10, 2021

Book Review: Killing in a Koi Pond by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran (Murder, She Wrote #53)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Jessica, most other characters, good mystery
Cons: Suspects are a bit thin, pacing at times
The Bottom Line:
Jessica on trip
When friend accused of murder
Classic franchise feel

Jessica Gets Back on the Road to Murder

I know I’ve jumped in very late to the Murder, She Wrote novels, basically picking up with the last few in the series.  However, I noticed something with the books I have read – they had all mostly centered on Cabot Cove.  Since I keep trying to point out how much Jessica Fletcher traveled in the show, I am quite happy to see her back on the road in Killing in a Koi Pond, the first novel in the series from Terrie Farley Moran.

Jessica has traveled to Columbia, South Carolina, to visit her college friend Delores.  Delores has recently remarried, and she is still very much in love with Willis.  Delores thinks that Willis is just wonderful, but at dinner that first night, Jessica sees a different side of Willis.  He appears controlling and manipulative to the family and friends who are there.

Jessica wakes up early the next morning and gets ready to go for a quick jog.  However, she only makes it as far as the Koi Pond.  That’s when she finds Willis’s dead body.  Jessica immediately suspects foul play, but Delores can’t imagine anyone wanting to hurt Willis.  When the police begin to look at Delores as a killer, Jessica jumps in to figure out what really happened.  Can she prove her friend innocent?

As much as I enjoyed the previous books in the series (the only ones I’ve read), at times they felt a little off from the series.  There was more of a thriller component to them than the series usually had, and some of the climaxes were stretching credibility for what Jessica would be able to do.  This book feels like a return to the franchise that we’ve known for almost 40 years.  We’ve got a murder and a limited number of suspects, with Jessica trying to figure out exactly what is going on.

While we get cameo appearances from a couple of regulars, this is pretty much Jessica’s show.  Anyone who loves the character will be thrilled to get to spend more time with her.  Delores and several other characters are equally as charming; I especially loved how Delores grew as the book progressed.  I did find Delores’s step-granddaughter, Abby, to be much younger than she was supposed to be.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the character, but she felt like she should have been four or five years old.

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the suspects were as well developed.  It might have helped if we’d spent more time getting to know them better.

And the thinner suspects made it harder to me to stay engaged in the plot.  Don’t get me wrong, it was entertaining, and there were some good twists and a classic Murder, She Wrote climax.  But I felt the pacing was uneven.

Overall, I did enjoy the book.  It reminded me very much of a classic travel episode from the show, and we got so many of them over the years.

I really got a kick out of some references to a mystery convention that Jessica had attended right before her trip.  The conference is obviously Malice Domestic, a conference devoted to cozy mysteries.  It only came up in passing a couple of times, but it made me smile.

If you are a fan of Murder, She Wrote, you’ll enjoy Killing in a Koi Pond.  It’s got that wonderful feeling of being a missing episode of the TV show.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. I'm new to the Murder She Wrote books as well though I've watched the show since I was a kid! I do agree about the thriller feel to the previous books and I was so thrilled to see Terrie Farley Moran start writing this series. I'm about halfway through it and agree that it has a much cozier feel. I'm really loving it!

  2. Thanks so much for a thoughtful review! Terrie Moran


Thanks for stopping by. In order to combat spam, I moderate most comments. I'll get to your comment as soon as I can.