This would turn out to be the last of the books I read for the 2023 Winter Reading Challenge, 14 of 15 categories completed. This one fit into the “Cozy” category, which means generally a little old lady solves a bit of a cottage mystery akin to an old English novel rather than a hard-boiled or police procedural investigation. I looked it up, actually, and although I probably have many other samples hidden amongst the stacks of Nogglestead, I knew where one or more of these books were as I had given a number of them to my sainted mother back in the day, and I often spotted one or more when browsing the stacks (and hence thinking of Mom). Not long after she passed away, I read one of these books (Murder, She Wrote: Dying to Retire) and was not impressed.
This time around, though, maybe I appreciated it more because I’m over a decade older and slower. I mean, it’s not like the Lee Goldberg books in the Monk or Diagnosis: Murder series with a lot of humor and some daffy characters for amusement–it’s pretty earnest. And Jessica Fletcher does go about her business talking and talking to different people in Death Capital (which is the translation from the French of Cabot Cove). And of course they’re planning a big party while she’s doing it.
So, the plot: Cabot Cove is getting ready to have its first lobster festival, which means Jessica comes into contact with the lobstermen who are having a bit of a problem with their broker who handles their sales–and perhaps the leader of the lobstermen’s organization is not really on their side. So half of the book explores this tension, well, the dual tensions of putting on a lobster festival on what seems to be a very short timeline (the book starts a week or so out, and they’re still planning it) and the lobstermen vs the broker, and the lobstermen who dissent from the current order vs the those who like tradition or how things are always done. I guess that’s triple tensions, but they take the first half of the book, setting things up. Then, on page 150, Chapter 13, Jessica awakens on a lobster boat with a dead body whom she discovers is the broker, and the boat is sinking. Actually, we get a primer on that in the Prologue–Jessica on the boat with a body, and then Chapter 1 starts two weeks earlier. And the next 120 pages are the subsequent rescue, investigation, resolution, and denouement.
So the pace is slower than your 60s or 70s men’s adventure paperback original, but it’s a different target audience. Perhaps the pace matches the show–I still haven’t seen a full episode (nor of Monk or Diagnosis: Murder), but maybe it takes :20 to get to the murder and :23 to resolve it (or vice versa). Or maybe because I’d mentally prepared for a “Cozy” or because I’d read one previously or because I was used to slower pacing from “Female Detective” in Finding Lizzy Smith, but the pacing did not bother me as much as it did in the book I read in 2010.
At any rate, it was okay. Colorful in its way. And I have two or three floating around on the to-read shelves, so perhaps I will read another before 2036.
Eesh, that’s a big number, 2036.