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by Donald Bain and Jessica Fletcher
NAL, October 2005
288 pages
ISBN: 0451216628

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Jessica Fletcher, the world-renowned mystery writer living in Cabot Cove, Maine is on vacation in Mexico a guest at the beautiful home of Vaughan and Olga Buckley, her publisher and his wife. Unfortunately before Jessica gets to their house she is the victim of a robbery. When her hosts hear of it, they insist that their location, a small town filled with other expats, is secure but they admit the rest of the country might not be that safe. Jessica is welcomed into the community with open arms and she spends some happy time being a tourist.

Meanwhile Vaughan, her host, has plans to go on a jaunt with another American to Texas to pick up the mail for the community. His wife Olga is worried, but Vaughan insists that it is safe since his driving companion has made the trip many times. The men make it to Texas safe and sound but disappear once they start the return trip back onto Mexican soil.

Soon the Mexican police report that they have found the car the men were driving. Luckily, Jessica is able to push herself into the investigation and she's the one who finds the body of the man who went on the trip with Vaughan. When Olga gets a ransom note demanding money for her husband's return, Jessica pulls out all the stops and uses her sleuthing talents to find her host.

The television program Murder She Wrote ran from 1984 to 1996. In 1994 novels based on the very popular show started to be sold. Now almost ten years since the TV program went off the air, we have MURDER, SHE WROTE: MARGARITAS & MURDER, the 24th in the novelized series. This is the first one I've read.

I was never a fan of the TV series but I think I did see one episode or two in all the years it was on and that is all it takes to let me know that MARGARITAS & MURDER is firmly in the same mindset as the series.

You can easily picture and hear Jessica Fletcher say her lines and go about the business of solving the crime when no one else seems to have a clue. That is the only problem I have with this story. The police are worthless and it takes Jessica, a stranger to the location, and someone who doesn't even speak the language, to find all the clues, collect the pertinent facts and realize what information is important. She's the one who solves the crime while the professionals and the people who know the location are sadly unable to keep up with her.

But then again, this is what people who watched the series and read the books want. Jessica is as nosey, opinionated and pushy as usual, but she's the hero and so must be the one who solves the case and saves the day.

If you'd rather mysteries that hold together with a firmer grasp of reality, you might want to go elsewhere. But if you're a fan of the television series and the books, I'm certain you'll like this latest written installment.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, December 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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