Book Review – Trick or Treachery by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain

books, reviews

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This was supposed to be the book I read on October 31st but it ended up taking me over a week to get through it. I did also read another book in that time but there is no denying that this was a slog. So, you might be wondering why I was bothering to read it? There’s only one answer to that question: I’m super stubborn. This was a joke Christmas present from my friend last year and I decided that I had to finish it. If only to make the joke even better. I almost gave up but I sat down on Sunday evening to get it done. I can’t say that I was giving it my whole attention but I got the gist of it. It’s not as if I even went into it thinking it would be great. I mean, it was co-written by a fictional character. How good could it actually be?

You’ve got to appreciate crime shows that are set in fictional small towns. Murders occur with such regularity but nobody thinks it’s odd. Nobody ever moves away either. It’s crazy. I know that Jessica Fletcher didn’t always solve crimes that occurred in her home but they were still pretty frequent. Imagine the constant turnover of people needed to keep it all going. How exactly did they manage to sell houses to people? Who opened businesses there? Why was the FBI not watching the murder capital of the United States? It’s nonsense but realism isn’t necessarily the friend of cosy crime shows.

It sounds like I’m being critical but I adored this show when I was growing up. So, I was looking forward to reading this spin-off book. It’s Halloween in Cabot Cove and Jessica and her neighbours are about to attend the big costume party. Things have been a bit strange lately thanks to the appearance of two strangers in town. The first, Lucas Tremaine, has come to town to chase ghosts. He’s interested in The Legend, a town myth about a scorned woman who killed her adulterous husband and then drowned herself. Her spirit is said to wander the graveyard and Tremaine wants to make contact.

Then there’s Matilda Swift, a mysterious woman who has newly moved in. It’s not long before the rumours start flying and the people of Cabot Cove are calling her a witch. When Swift turns up dead at the party, it becomes clear that very few people actually had much time for her. With a substantial list of potential killers, the police have a hard time trying to figure out exactly what she was killed for. It’s up to Jessica to use her skills to find the clues to solve this once and for all. But just who was Matilda and why did someone want her dead?

As I said, I’m a fan of this show and I was a bit disappointed by this book. It just felt weirdly written. Nobody spoke like a normal person or like a person on the show. It was awkward and silted. It didn’t seem recognisable as Jessica Fletcher as I remembered her or human beings as I remember them. The story itself is fun and I enjoyed the slightly spooky elements. However, it was incredibly obvious who the killer was, which meant much of the novel was about going round in circles. Instead of creating decent red herrings, this just focused your attention on one person. I’m not a fan of this approach as it becomes painfully obvious what’s going on.

This is my first Murder, She Wrote book, so I can’t say anything for how it compares with the rest. Although, I can’t say that it really convinced me to read more. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first-person narration because I don’t think it really captured Jessica’s character or voice. Still, it was charming and a bit of fun. It’s pretty slow to get going and is a lot of weird padding to wade through. However, once the murder takes place, things speed up a little. If you’re a fan of the show and don’t mind a lack of realism in your crime fiction, this could be a great read. But you’re possibly better off just watching the show.

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