Close-Up On Murder, Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a really good who-dunnit featuring Jessica Fletcher of Cabot Cove, Maine.  Of course, Jessica Fletcher is not the co-author of these books since she is a character from the television series, Murder She Wrote, in which she is portrayed by Tony award-winning actress, Angela Lansbury.  According to Donald Bain, though, he has been collaborating with his wife, Renée Paley-Bain, for about the last 3 years, and “we hear [Ms. Lansbury’s] voice as we write Jessica’s dialogue”.

In Close-Up On Murder, one of Jessica’s books is being made into a movie, and since it is based on a true story that happened in Cabot Cove, the cast and crew has migrated from Hollywood to Maine to create the production on location.  We have an aging star, Vera Stockdale, who hasn’t performed in many years, playing the strong supporting role of the judge who becomes the murder victim, her ex-husband, Terry Chattergee, as producer who has led her to believe it’s a starring role, her astrologer, Estelle Fancy, who has advised her that the stars are in alignment for this to be a propitious time to return to the screen, and a young director, Mitch Elovitz, who only has one major hit under his belt.  The Cabot Cove airport hangar is turned into a studio, Loretta’s Beauty Parlour gets an entire new make-over, and merchants are up in arms about roads being blocked for days with nothing being done on them what-so-ever.

In the midst of this, ghosts from the past trial return to haunt the set.  The playboy husband originally accused of killing the judge stalks Jessica and the sets, trying to stop the production, the girlfriend who told a P.I. that the husband had threatened to kill his wife but then recanted her story when called as a witness would like to get the trial re-opened and see him put away, and Vera is found on the set of the judge’s chambers sitting dead behind the desk with a length of thirty-five mm film wrapped tightly around her neck.  And of course, everyone seems to have an alibi.

No spoilers here.  Doc Hazlitt and Jessica take a flight to Bangor to see a specialist to help determine which hole was the entry wound and which was the exit.  Sheriff Mort Metzger gets frames of the film blown up to try to establish what, if any, connection there is between the film and a motive for murder.  And, the Cabot Cove rumour mill says that Jessica has wrestled the playboy husband to the ground and disarmed him.  Everything gets straightened out, complex family relations come to light, the innocent are exonerated, and the killer(s) are sent to trial.  No more film crews in Cabot Cove for Jessica.

This falls into my reading “comfort zone”.  Finished it in one day.  A great read with more than a couple of surprises at the end. * * * *


About mysm2000

Having taught elementary school for more than 25 years and been involved in many amazing technology and curriculum projects, I find I've developed a myriad of interests based on literature I've read and music I've heard. I've followed The Wright Three to Chicago, Ansel Adams to Colorado, The Kon Tiki Expedition to Easter Island, Simon & Garfunkel lyrics to New York City, Frank Lloyd Wright to Fallingwater, Pennsylvania, and have only just begun.
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5 Responses to Close-Up On Murder, Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain

  1. Pingback: Mystery Monday: The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher | Ms M's Bookshelf

  2. Laurie Bain Wilson says:

    Hi, Donald Bain’s daughter here Laurie Bain Wilson. I wrote three of the Murder, She Wrote novels with my father. They are the second in the series, Manhattans and Murder, Rum and Razors (which I used my experiences as a travel writer) and, more recently, Three Strikes, You’re Dead, about spring training in Arizona. My great-grandfather was a major league baseball player so this was fun. Thanks!


    • mysm2000 says:

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing that with us. It’s good to know. I’ve enjoyed your father’s (and yours and your mother’s) books very much. Haven’t quite read all of them yet — still working on it.


      • Laurie Bain Wilson says:

        Hi and thanks. Big clarification though, Renee is not my mother. My mother is Jackie Bain. She and my dad were married for almost 20 year. She did a lot of work with my father, she was his “editor,” she would read/edit all his books before he submitted them, I have fond memories of that, and they produced Jackie Douglas productions together. My father didn’t marry Renee until I was in my mid-thirties and I had already written Murder, She Wrote novels with him. Thanks!


      • Laurie Bain Wilson says:

        thank you! by the way, renee is not my mother. but donald is my father. thanks!


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