Book Report: Murder, She Wrote: Dying to Retire by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain (2004)

Those of you who are my friends on Facebook know I’ve started baking and doing handcrafts and already suspect my masculinity. Now, you encounter a review of a book based on a television series based designed for little old ladies with cats. Well, in my defense, I would probably not have bought this book for myself even given my propensity for books based on television series and films. However, I bought a couple of these books at a garage sale or book sale quite some time ago to give to my sainted mother since I thought she wasn’t reading enough and she might read it. I don’t even know if she did or not, but now the book has passed to me. And I read it.

It’s about 250 pages in paperback; I think it’s a paperback original. Its pacing isn’t what I usually read. It’s not choppy or punchy. The first person voice of Jessica Fletcher spends a lot of time talking about side issues, musing on Key Lime Pies and the relationships of those around her. Two cases in point: The book spends 5 pages on Fletcher’s ride from the mainland of Florida to Key West for a weekend even though it’s mostly discussing key lime pies and the changes of scenery. Later, she spends a long paragraph hoping that a recurring character has a good relationship with an old friend even though these are not germane to the plot.

Maybe that’s how women think, or maybe that’s how Bain thinks women think. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been knocked early and often for my fallacious depiction of fictional women. But the pacing dawdles until about 50 pages remain, and then we get to the sleuthing. The story: Jessica’s retiree friend in Florida dies, and it might be murder. Jessica comes down and ends up investigating 100 or so pages later when they think it is murder. Was it the husband? Was it the businessman? Who are you kidding? It was the businessman. About 200 pages in, the pace starts up, and with 25 page to go, the first person narrator asks a question of a witness/involved person and doesn’t tell the audience what it is so she can point at the businessman and his lackeys dramatically. The main verbal trap relies on a klew obscured by 240 other pages of fluff and extraneous conversations among colorful but sort of extraneous characters.

But Bain’s a professional. He hit his word count and provided something that the target audience appreciates. I guess this is the 21st book in the series or something, eight years after the series went off the air. The series is actually ongoing to this day. As a writer, he’s doing something right. However, this is not the sort of thing I dig. And, sadly, I’ve got at least one more and maybe more to go. Curse my giving nature.

Interesting factoid: apparently, there are two series of novels based on the series. One is Jessica Fletcher’s novels and the other is Jessica Fletcher’s adventures in real life. Way to keep it going, fellows.

Books mentioned in this review:

1 thought on “Book Report: Murder, She Wrote: Dying to Retire by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain (2004)

  1. My Mom loved the series and reads these books on long car trips.

    Personally, I find the whole story disturbing. A woman travels around the country visiting friends and relatives, and wherever she goes, bodies drop. And said friends or relatives get the blame. It never occurs to anyone who the real killer is.

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