In the 50th installment of this series, Jess soon finds herself caught in a net full of lies, deceit, and ulterior motives when a convicted killer set on revenge invades her hometown and the sheriff's wife turns up missing. Based on the TV series by Peter S. Fischer, Richard Levinson, and William Link.
Despite the exposition, narrative urgency seldom falters; indeed, an escalating body count and the impending reunion of Appleton faculty and staff ensure forward momentum and a fortuitously frenetic finale ... It’s an ambitious premise and one worthy of the occasion at hand. In addition to double doses of murder and mystery that are interconnected by character and circumstance, readers are made privy to a backstory that’s only been hinted at previously. The real treat, however, is how this melding of timeframes allows Land to incorporate beloved-if-bygone characters from the television show ... a reverential-yet-unrestrained ode to the enduring Murder, She Wrote legacy, both as a television show and literary canon. Though Land’s sensibilities (which tend to favor the former) have proved divisive among some longtime readers, there’s no denying his attempts to bridge these two worlds. This book represents his most successful effort yet and strongly reaffirms Jessica Fletcher’s status as a hero for the ages.
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, 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.
... another stellar entry in this long-running series. Readers will thoroughly enjoy the time jumps as they help ramp up the suspense to almost unbearable levels. The result is a breathtaking finale that most will not see coming. I was happy to lose myself within the book, and I love the ease with which the recurring characters speak with one another. However, if you're looking for a cozy New England weekend, you may want to cross Cabot Cove off your future vacation list and pick a safer locale, where the local author-in-residence does not attract murder like a magnet.