Leafing Through Pages – A Time for Murder (Murder, She Wrote # 50)

For review of all movies and TV shows by Dame Angela Lansbury, go here.

For movies, TV shows and books surrounding actors and actresses who were part of Dame Angela Lansbury’s 80’s and 90’s American crime drama television series Murder, She Wrote, go here on my other blog on LiveJournal and here on WordPress.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: Delving into deadly under-belly of the art world is no walk in the park. Yet Jessica braves into that world while keeping her rooted to the outside world. Unusual to see so many errors in these books, yet it made for a very decent cozy mystery.

A Time For Murder is the 50th book in the Murder She Wrote series co-written by Jon Land & fictional writer Jessica Fletcher. It was first published on November 26, 2019. The plot goes between staying in the present and what happened twenty five years ago. Jessica investigates the death of a young woman who claims to be a reported and is interested in the very first case that Jessica Fletcher solved twenty five years ago. And now the two murders may be connected.

This is my take on the series of books written by a plethora of authors and Jessica Fletcher (fictional author) based on the 80s and 90s popular American crime drama television series Murder, She Wrote. These books are ghost written by Donald Bain and fictional author Jessica Fletcher for the first 43 books until 2015. Then Donald Bain wrote these with Renee Paley Bain and Jon Land for more books before Jon Land alone continued with Jessica Fletcher for 5 more books until 2020. Starting 2021 the series was picked by Terrie Farley Moran again pairing with the fictional writer Jessica Fletcher.

I wonder if they will stop writing these novels anymore considering the death of Angela Lansbury (the star who portrayed the role of Jessica Fletcher in the TV Series and who has her face on the covers of these books) on October 11 2022. Although they did have the 56th novel in the series, Death on the Emerald Isle, published on Jan 3rd 2023, three months after her passing away.

This was a very interesting take the writer took on. By bringing up her very first case, the writer takes us to Jessica’s life long before she moved to Cabot Cove – her peaceful life with her husband Frank and raising their nephew Grady together in Appleton, Maine where she worked as a substitute teacher; how she meets the good old Dr. Seth Hazlitt and all of her friends that she has now in Cabot Cove; her first meeting with Detective Amos Tupper who later becomes Sheriff of Cabot Cover prior to Mort.

While watching the reruns of the TV show I noticed that there had been a few episodes that gives the viewers glimpses into her past; but this book takes us literally into her life that was twenty-five years ago. The past that the writer shows in the book, makes a lot sense in how Jessica has her relationship with the folks at Cabot Cove.

We also see the seeds of mystery writing being sowed in the plot when the writer takes us to Jessica’s life at Appleton, Maine in her past. The writer also brings forth a key economical point – how in the name of progress have small towns been converted into rising urban towns losing the charm for which the towns originally were craved for.

Funny to see our favorite Cabot Cove sheriff goes from “Jessica” to “Mrs. Fletcher / Mrs. F” while Jessica was involved in solving the murder. Again we see some differences with the TV Show – Mort Metzger’s wife Adele is shown as to have worked in the marines in this book. But that was never mentioned on the TV Show.

It is not a straight forward murder again that Jessica tries to solve. Although I found it surprising that the author used the same critical element in solving the murder from Jessica’s past which was used in the TV episode, Christopher Bundy – Died on Sunday, from Season 2 Episode 19.

Yet Jessica braves into that world while keeping her rooted to the outside world. Through her eyes we get to see the lives of various people around her. Unusual to see so many errors in these books, yet it made for a very decent cozy mystery.

Spoiler Alerts:

Plot Reveals:

  1. People from her past: Walter Reavis, principal of high school at Appleton; Alma Pott, Reavis’ secretary; Wilma Tisdale; Tyler Benjamin, an expelled student.
  2. People in the present that she meets while investigating the murder: Jen Sweeney, Cabot Cove High School Principal.
  3. Jessica mentions her very first murder she solved after she became a writer was at a party hosted by her then publisher, Preston Giles. This is in fact the very first episode, “The Murder of Sherlock Holmes” which later was released as a two part episode during the reruns. But in her books that she creates as Jessica Fletcher in the TV series, she had written that plot for her book “The Corpse Danced at Midnight”. Another of her book “The Dead Man Sang” is mentioned that she has written as a writer in the TV series.
  4. Jessica talks about two mystery magazines that she had submitted her stories to as a young substitute teacher – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Interesting to note that these magazines still exist in 2023, albeit they are digital now like most magazines and newspapers. You can get the print version too if needed.
  5. She is residing at Hill House, Cabot Cove’s very own Inn due to a fire at her Victorian home at 698 Candlewood Lame – the one that was bought by Frank so may years ago. I wonder if the 49th book, Murder in Red, has anything to do with her house getting caught fire which almost killed her.
  6. Ex-Sherriff Amos Tupper and Jessica reminisce on a case they solved that happened on a bus they were taking to a police convention. This is a real episode that was on the TV show – Murder Takes the Bus from Season 1 Episode 18.

Sub Plots:

  1. Friends of Jessica Fletcher – her publisher Vaughan Buckley of Buckley House, his fashion model wife Olga Buckley and their dogs Sadie and Rose; Dr. Seth Hazlitt, long-time friend in Cabot Cove, Maine; George Sutherland, senior inspector with Scotland Yard; Morton Metzger, Cabot Cove Sherriff and his wife Adele; Henry McGraw, her private eye friend; Eve Simpson, realtor friend working at Cabot Cove Realty.
  2. Jessica Fletcher’s family – Grady Fletcher, nephew that she and Frank raises
  3. George Sutherland and Jessica Fletcher are seen to have first met in the very first book based off of the famous TV Show, Gin and Daggers published in January 1st, 1989 and written by Donald Bain and fictional writer Jessica Fletcher
  4. George and Jessica decide to meet up in London in the seventh book, A Palette for Murder – I wonder which future book was based on that trip.

Grammatical / Character / Plot / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

  1. On Page 54, Line 5, it should be “…home in tiny Cabot..”

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