By Donald Bain and Renée Paley-Bain
We are so excited about our latest “Murder, She Wrote” novel, The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher. Many readers have told us they like to see Jessica Fletcher solve mysteries in her home town. They enjoy reading about a slice of small-town America, and this story will please them as it takes place in Cabot Cove, Maine. (Yes, we know it’s been derided as the murder capital of America, but it’s still the same charming village you’ve always loved, complete with a roster of eccentric characters familiar from the TV show together with an assorted number of newcomers.) This time out, an ailing Cliff Cooper says he’s dying and insists upon dictating his last will and testament to Jessica Fletcher: Real estate agent Eve Simpson is to sell his house and give the proceeds to Cliff’s grandson who lives in Alaska. Sounds simple enough, but as always, nothing goes according to plan. While Eve is stuck with trying to market a white elephant of a house, chock full of thousands of books and suspected of being haunted, Seth Hazlitt, Jessica’s good friend and Cabot Cove’s favorite physician, suspects foul play in Cliff’s demise. Jessica is caught between the two and has to juggle their competing needs while an ambitious medium and a pair of pixilated twins pull the tale in different directions, much to the confusion of Sheriff Mort Metzger.
There are a total of forty-four “Murder, She Wrote” books available and two more in the pipeline. So Jessica Fletcher is still solving murders all these years since the television show aired the last installment of its twelve seasons in 1996. Just in case you didn’t realize, each book in the series is an original murder mystery and not a novelization of any of the episodes.
Don has been writing the series for twenty-six years and we’ve been working together on the books for fifteen years. So it gives us great pleasure to announce that this and future books will have three names in the byline on the cover: Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain, and Renée Paley-Bain. Jessica Fletcher, of course, is the fictitious character brought so beautifully to life by Dame Angela Lansbury whose picture graces the cover of every book in the series. Ms. Lansbury, who is soon to celebrate her 90th birthday, is too busy singing, dancing and acting on stage to have time to write mysteries. Still, she tells us that “Murder, She Wrote” fans often thank her for the books, and she responds with a hearty “You’re Welcome.” Like her fictional counterpart, Dame Angela is a gracious lady, friendly and warm. We were lucky enough to see her on Broadway in “A Little Night Music” and in “Blithe Spirit.”
Which brings us back to the other spirit, the one in The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher. Jessica is convinced that there is no such thing, but she’s never one to discount someone else’s beliefs. Is this ghost just a made-up story to delay the sale of the house? Or is it a restless soul counting on Jessica Fletcher to unravel the mystery of its death. We hope you’ll read the book to find out.
MURDER, SHE WROTE: THE GHOST AND MRS. FLETCHER, Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain and Renee Paley-Bain, Obsidian, Hardcover, 264 pages/$23.95, October 6 2015.