Release Date: May 1, 2018
Series: Murder She Wrote
Publisher: Penguin Group
Mystery writer, Jessica Fletcher, is attending a festive Labor Day barbecue at the home of her friends Hal and Babs Wirth. As the celebration winds down, Babs and Jessica discover Hal collapsed on his kitchen floor. Hal is rushed to the hospital, but passes away, seemingly from a heart attack. Jessica has a bad feeling about Hal’s death and that feeling only gets worse when Jessica witnesses other unexpected events. To help her friend Babs, Jessica puts her knowledge of crime-solving to use in getting to the bottom of a complicated situation which she hopes will help her determine what really happened to Hal.
A Date With Murder is the latest in a long line of books in the Murder She Wroteseries, based on the television series. Readers not familiar with the book are in for a pleasant surprise. Those expecting an old-fashioned story will see the plot deals with issues relevant to today, including investment scams and the use of dating apps Jessica is a main character that cozy mystery readers will enjoy. She is inquisitive, not afraid to speak her mind, and tenacious. Jessica will do whatever it takes to get answers, including going undercover. In this book, she even gets help from a computer hacker, which seems a little out of character, but shows Jessica isn’t stuck in the 1980s. What I liked about this book is it shows character depth, such as when parts of the investigation leave Jessica wondering about the “road not traveled” in her life.
This newest installment in the series has a new co-author which may explain why in many ways it more closely follows the television show than earlier books in the series. Jessica mentions that she hasn’t dated since her husband passed away. However, those who have read other Murder She Wrotebooks will remember Jessica’s ongoing, long-distance romance with a Scotland Yard detective. It is nice to see New York private investigator Harry McGraw, a memorable character from the TV show, play an important role in the book. On the other hand, I am disappointed in the way Sheriff Mort Metzger is portrayed in this book. He had always been a bit of a curmudgeon, but he and Jessica had a friendly banter and he was always a good friend to her. In this book, many of his comments to Jessica come across as rude and downright mean instead of just friendly teasing.
The case Jessica investigates is intriguing, but the ending of the book is a bit abrupt. Clues to the case are given throughout the book, and it would have been nice to have more time devoted to the ending, allowing the reader to savor the solution of Hal’s death. In spite of the flaws, I enjoyed the chance to spend time in Cabot Cove with Jessica and I look forward to future installments.