Cozy as a warm blanket as Jessica Fletcher hunts down yet another killer with her customary panache.

MURDER, SHE WROTE

MURDER IN SEASON

The arrival of Christmas cues a murderer to play Scrooge.

Jessica Fletcher is finally moving back to her home that was ravaged by fire in Murder, She Wrote: The Murder of Twelve (2020). The only last-minute glitch is the new septic system that’s required. Unfortunately, the folks digging up her yard discover an old chest and two corpses. Without missing a beat, Jessica sets to work with her old partners in crime-solving, Sheriff Mort Metzger and Dr. Seth Hazlitt. One body is fairly recent; the other may be hundreds of years old. Both interest muckraking reporter Tad Hollenbeck, of the TV show Stalker, who’s doing a long-overdue piece on Cabot Cove as the murder capital of the world. The chest holds papers relating to the town’s five founding families, who made their fortunes in shipping and milling and still have descendants in the area. In addition to papers of interest to historians, it contains shocking information about the founders’ slave trading. For Jessica, who wonders if the sins of the past are still causing trouble, the most important document is the diary of John Henry Cabot, which she expects she'll have to put aside once she's called on to solve the murder of Tad Hollenbeck. The story of stolen diamonds in the diary, however, leads her to a motive for murder as the founders’ surviving relatives become suspects (the lucky ones) and corpses (those less lucky) in a complex investigation that threatens to spoil Christmas.

Cozy as a warm blanket as Jessica Fletcher hunts down yet another killer with her customary panache.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984804-36-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Great fun from a masterful writer.

APRIL IN SPAIN

A literary period piece featuring colorful characters and a mysterious crime.

In postwar Ireland, “Terry Tice liked killing people,”  and he offs his gay friend Percy on a whim. Meanwhile, in Donostia in the Basque region of Spain, a semihappy couple named Quirke and Evelyn are visiting for an April holiday. He’s an Irish pathologist—hero of earlier mysteries Banville published under the name Benjamin Black—and she’s an Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. Quirke is the perfect name for the husband, who “could never say the word ‘love’ without flinching.” And he “made love deftly, in an exploratory sort of way, like a doctor searching for the source of an obscure malady.” Evelyn loves to tease him: “You love to be miserable,” she says. “It’s your version of being happy.” Meanwhile, a young woman named April Latimer is dead, murdered by her brother, but her body has never been found. April is the catalyst who eventually brings the storylines together—but well before that, readers will savor the author’s imagery and playful language. After doing in his pal, Terry finds Percy’s photos of nude “fellows with enormous how’s-your-fathers.” In a restaurant, Quirke and Evelyn’s “waiter looked like a superannuated toreador.” Earlier, the odors in a fish stall made Quirke think of sex. They buy oysters, an innocent act that lands Quirke in the hospital, where Doctor  Angela Lawless haunts his thoughts but he doesn’t know why.  Meanwhile, Doctor Cruz demands to know why the couple is really in Spain. Are they poking into the April Latimer business? The bulk of the story focuses on the two vacationers, but Tice may have the last word on whether they can ever return to the Emerald Isle. The plot is good, but the prose—ah, the prose: A woman watches fat raindrops fall, and she “imagined them to be tiny ballerinas making super-quick curtseys and then dropping through little trapdoors hidden in the stage.” And who can’t smile at a woman’s observation that a fellow may be “inclined to the leeward side of Cape Perineum”?

Great fun from a masterful writer.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-335-47140-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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