Anyone who grew up on the TV series these novels are based on will hear Angela Lansbury’s voice while reading. It’s an association the publisher encourages, as she’s pictured in character on the cover. Murder, She Wrote: A Time for Murder is book 50 in the series, and it’s quite a golden anniversary, telling two stories in tandem.
Jessica Fletcher is interviewed by a high school student and reminisces about the first murder case she was involved in 25 years ago. But another body has turned up in the present day, and we skip back and forth between these two stories that ultimately intersect. Jon Land, who shares author credit with Fletcher, gives the story plentiful twists, including when a member of the Boston mafia manages, despite being incarcerated, to send two accomplices after Jessica. They’re intimidating at first, but ultimately a source of comic relief.
Much like the show, there are emotional stakes at play—the present-day story involves a family whose luck is so awful they appear to be cursed—but also a lot of discussion over pie and coffee with friends and locals. There’s a fabulously over-the-top action sequence at the climax, but flashbacks to a young, married Jessica moving into her dream home with her husband and nephew grab at the heartstrings and pull.
A character doesn’t persist through 50 books if she’s not an all-star, and this volume shows just why that’s the case.