Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Murder, She Wrote: A Slaying in Savannah-Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain

Murder, She Wrote: A Slaying in Savannah
Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain
Obsidian, Oct 2008, $21.95
ISBN: 9780451225054

Jessica Fletcher receives a call from a Savannah lawyer informing her that her friend nonagenarian Tillie Mortelaine died. The two women worked together decades ago on an literacy program that became the Georgia standard. Tillie left Jessica with a million dollars for their literary program based on a stipulation that inside of a month the New Englander discovers who murdered the deceased’s fiancé Wanamaker Jones forty years ago; if Jessica fails the program gets nothing.

Four decades ago the police got nowhere with their inquiries as those living in the house closed ranks against outsiders. Determined to solve the case as she has a million motives from various suspects, Jessica questions those people who were there and still alive today. While she investigates, two ghost hunters and a man claiming to be Tillie’s fiancé get in her way; Tillie’s nieces are uncooperative as they believe Mrs. Fletcher will keep the money. Jessica ignores their slurs, but cannot disregard the attempts on her life or the ghostly happenings in Tillie’s house. She is running out of time to put together the puzzle as those central to solving it wants the money and obviously Jessica to fail.

As Tillie and series fans know Mrs. Fletcher is a contemporary New England Miss Marple. Her investigation is difficult because of the time lapse and the lack of cooperation of those involved. Whereas her motive is to insure the literacy program is funded, their motives with one exception are to inherit the money; the lone exception would be the killer if he or she is still alive. The police support the family in that they resent this northern outsider intruding even on a cold case; however she begins to win some of them over with her methods and they admire her moxie. This is one of the best cases Mrs. Fletcher (and Donald Bain) has worked on as she emotionally grieves the death of her friend, which also reminds her of her own mortality; while working on an entertaining cerebral cold case whodunit.

Harriet Klausner