Another fun read from Donald Bain and René Paley-Bain (and Jessica Fletcher), for Mystery Monday. The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher is set in Cabot Cove, Maine, where friend and crotchety old patient of Doc Hazlitt’s, Cliff Cooper, is determined that he is dying and asks Jessica to write out his last requests and deliver them to his lawyer. He wants his house sold and the proceeds to go to his grandson, Elliot. Doc Hazlitt wasn’t on duty when Cliff died just a few days later, and little was thought about the registered cause of death until Jessica discovers some things that strike her as odd. An autopsy confirms her suspicions: Cliff was suffocated. It was murder.
Elliot Cooper finally arrives by motorbike from Alaska, realtor Eve Simpson is trying to ready the house for sale, Jessica’s enlisted to help organize Cliff’s thousands of books for an event to benefit the local library, and the rumours of a ghost in the century-old house send the workmen and cleaners scurrying, refusing to re-enter the house. A rather mysterious handyman turns up to complete the work for Eve, and tries to keep Jessica out of the basement.
Meanwhile, Jessica tries to find out the history of both the house and Cliff’s family. Who better to help her than the twin sisters across the road, one of whom was engaged to Cliff, and their niece who was sweet on Elliot when they were growing up.
We learn a lot about the value of books as Jessica and her antique books expert from New York City go through the wide range of books Cliff had hoarded, trying to meet the expectations of his son the anthropologist who was murdered along with his wife by the tribe they were studying in South America.
Jessica’s interest is piqued when the strange handyman is seen off in the distance at Cliff’s funeral, and before long, a body is discovered sealed in the wall of the basement of the haunted old house. Despite a note attached to the body, it takes Jessica to work out who the real killers are — yes, two separate killers in this instance — a bit of a departure for the Murder She Wrote sleuth.
Well told, full of interesting information, and familiar enough to Murder She Wrote fans to make a fast, fun read — what I like to call “a comfort read”. Fans of Jessica Fletcher will love it! * * * * *
Close-Up on Murder, a Murder She Wrote novel;
Aloha Betrayed, a Murder She Wrote novel;