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review 2017-04-17 21:08
Police-procedural with touches of domestic noir and many stories to keep the intrigue going.
Cleaved: Grafton County Series, book 2 - Sue Coletta

I’m writing this review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I was provided with a copy of the book that I freely chose to review.

I have just finished reading Sue Coletta’s Marred and I wanted to see what happened next. Reading the two books back-to-back allowed me to think a bit more about the genre, the characters and the style.

Here we have again the married couple of Niko Quintano, now sheriff in Alexandria, Grafton County, New Hampshire, and his wife, crime novelist Sage. They moved trying to leave behind a tragedy but it seems it followed them, and in Marred there was more heartache and family loses for the Quintanos. Now, the couple has a child, their two kids (their beloved dogs, Rugger and Colt, which I didn’t mention in my last review although they play an important role), and they are enjoying life. The book doesn’t allow us to relax though, quite the opposite, as it opens with a terrifying scene, narrated in the first person from Sage’s perspective. She is locked up somewhere, small, dark and cold, floating in water, and can’t recall how she got there. And we, the readers, share in her anguish and fear and are thrown in at the deep end from the beginning. The book then goes back and we get to know how Sage ended up there. Her plight is linked to a new bizarre wave of murders that befall the county but there are several interrelated plots and all of them touch the different characters personally. What should have been a happy time for Sage and Niko turns into another nightmare and nobody is safe.

The story is told from several of the characters’ points of view, as was the case with Marred. Sage, the writer, narrates her story in the first person and is good at observing events, but especially at talking about feelings and analysing the impact their horrific experiences might have on all of them (including her 13 months’ old baby son, Noah, and their two dogs). Her husband Niko and Frankie, the deputy sheriff with attitude, wit and a fashionable sense of dress, also have their own stories, but these are told in the third-person.

I talked about genre in the previous review but I have to come back to it. Whilst the book works as police-procedural, due to the details about murder scenes and also to the lectures on the subject (the deputies in training come handy as a justification and a stand-in for the readers, and this time even Frankie gets to explain some aspects of forensic science), there is a lot of content that relates to family relationships and also to the effects of crime and trauma on the survivors, that put me in mind of what these days is called domestic-noir (although in standard cases, the guilty party tends to be part of the family. Not so here…). Although this aspect is more evident in the fragments narrated by Sage, Frankie also gets confronted with her own relationship and how it can be a source of conflict with one’s profession and moral stance (she’s still one of my favourite characters but she behaves in a more reckless manner that I had ever imagined she would and shows less concern for the law than I expected), and Niko also struggles to try to maintain his professional demeanour when faced with attacks on his beloved family.

There are several story strands and a variety of crimes, and readers will be kept on their toes trying to decide how they related to each other (if they do), how many criminals there are and what their motives are. Although the sheriff notes the difficulties and the limitations of law enforcement in the area as it is not a high-crime place, I couldn’t help but think of series like Murder, She Wrote or Midsomer Murders where a seemingly sleepy town is attacked by an epidemic of crime, courtesy of it being the setting of a series. Also, like in most stories where both members of a couple investigate crimes (professionally or not), at some point, one or both of them end up becoming victims, and this has been Sage’s lot from the beginning, perhaps more so in this book, as she has even more to lose now. This novel might cross over several genres but it does live up to the expectations of the readers and it will keep them turning pages.

The characters keep stumbling on the same stone over and over. If in the previous book they got into serious trouble for not completely trusting each other and lying (with the best of intentions at heart), they still do it here (perhaps not to the same extent) and there is a price to be paid for it. I felt like I do sometimes when watching a horror movie when you see the characters keep getting themselves into trouble, and you want to shout at them: ‘Don’t do that! Don’t be stupid!’ but they don’t listen. The murders are as gruesome as in the previous book and varied; we get a better glimpse at Frankie’s life and some of her connections, but there is more of the personal point of view and dramatic side of the story, at least in my opinion. The book has humorous scenes and the witty dialogue that’s one of the author’s trademarks, but it is also scary and tense, and even more terrifying if you’re an author yourself. (Beware of book signings is all I’ll say.)

Once again, the ending is satisfying (as a psychiatrist I’ll keep my peace rather than discuss the details) but has a hook and leaves readers with an eerie feeling. I wasn’t sure I was totally clear in my mind as to how the different strands fitted in, especially with so many things being hidden and not fully knowing who knew what.  I wouldn’t have minded one of those scenes à la Poirot or Sherlock Holmes, where the detective gives an explanation and everything is tied up with a nice ribbon. Although, perhaps it just shows that the rhythm of the novel is quite fast and if you blink, you’ve missed it.

Another novel by Sue Coletta with an irresistible story that requires a strong stomach but will be of interest to readers who like to dig into the character’s psyche and are after more than just a well-plotted book. Oh, and readers must like dogs too. Especially scary for writers.

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review 2016-10-03 02:12
Trick or Treachery -Book #14...
Trick or Treachery (Murder, She Wrote, #14) - Donald Bain

 

I use to love to watch the Murder She Wrote series on TV but I've never read any of the books until now. I thought it would be fun to revisit the series during our Halloween Bingo and see if the books are as good as the show. This book in particular is set during the Halloween season & one of the older versions of this book has a pumpkin on the cover so it was also perfect for my "Pumpkin" square.

 

This is a fun story- all of the residents of Cabot Cove attend a Halloween costume party & what fun is a party without a murder. The story also features a ghost -The Legend of Cabot Cove and a visiting psychic.

 

Overall, it was a nice story to get in the Halloween spirit and it was fun revisiting Cabot Cove and its residents but after reading the book, I still like the tv show more. Each time Jessica visits a neighbor or store etc. on her handy dandy bicycle (If you've seen the show, you know is very frequently) they go through the same niceties over and over again which, in the book it felt too forced. On air, you don't notice it as much or at least I didn't at the time. I also think that the cinematic elements of the tv series make it a lot more suspenseful then the book which I liked. I haven't seen the show in a while though so it may come across differently to me now then it did when I was younger. 

 

I'm not totally going to forgo the book series. There are a couple more I'd like to read but I definitely don't see myself reading all 46 books. I am going to watch some Murder She Wrote reruns though. If you haven't seen the show yet, watch it first! 

 

*I read this for my 2016 Halloween Bingo: ~Pumpkin~ square

 

 

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review 2016-09-27 22:02
Murder, She Wrote: Killer in the Kitchen
Murder, She Wrote: Killer in the Kitchen - Donald Bain,Jessica Fletcher

Seth narrowed his eyes as he looked at me.

"I can see where this is going." he said. "I already told you no medical disguises. I'm not about to jeopardize my standing in this hospital to help satisfy your insatiable curiosity."

"You have such a warped view of me."

Seth coughed and grumbled.

 

Murder, She Wrote was one of my favourite series. I still enjoy watching reruns of it. Of course, it was formulaic and you could guess the murderer within about 5 minutes, but that doesn't matter. It was pure fun!

 

When I found out a few weeks ago that there were tie-in books, there was only one thing for it - I had to find one. To my astonishment, there aren't only many of them, but they are really popular! Except for one copy of Killer in the Kitchen, all of the copies at my library were waitlisted. Waitlisted!

 

Anyway, getting to the book now.... I'm not going into the plot or the story. If you've seen one episode of the tv series, you can guess the plot.

 

 

No. The interesting part for me was the writing. Would the tie-in portray the same characters, the same feel of the tv series? How would the writer(s) handle the fact that pretty much everyone who reads this already has some fixed ideas about the characters?

 

Well, the short answer is by leaving out most of the description of anything. The writing almost entirely relies on the readers knowledge and pre-informed ideas of the characters and of Cabot Cove as a setting. I was amazed.

 

Does it work? Yes, but only if you have seen the series. I doubt that the book, which almost entirely consists of dialogue between the characters would work for readers who  have not seen the tv series.

Also, because the story consists of mostly dialogue, interspersed with a little narration by J.B. Fletcher herself, it is sometimes difficult to make out the intentions of the character. Again, the book depends on the reader's familiarity with the tv series.

Killer in the Kitchen is actually one episode that I remember watching, so I am really not sure how the book would have worked on me if I hadn't been able to picture the scenes.

 

However, I have only read one book in this series, so cannot generalise about this. The question remains if I would read another one. In all honesty, probably not. I really prefer the series - because it thrives on the characters and the cast.

 

Lastly, there is one aspect that I simply have to mention because this review would just be incomplete without doing so. And this aspect is encapsulated perfectly in the following quote from the book:

"By the way, Mrs. F., how come you were there when it happened?"

His question surprised me.

The main mystery about Murder, She Wrote has always been why the inhabitants of Cabot Cove never moved. I mean, if I lived near J.B. Fletcher, I'd run for the hills.

Did they never think about why there were so many mystery murders in that town?

 

I believer there is only one answer to this, and this is expressed beautifully here

:

 

 

By the way, Val McDermid has been seen spotting the very same t-shirt. I simply cannot argue with Val.

(spoiler show)

 

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review 2015-09-01 23:03
DEATH OF A BLUE BLOOD
Murder, She Wrote: Death of a Blue Blood... Murder, She Wrote: Death of a Blue Blood - Jessica Fletcher,Donald Bain

At forty-three books and counting, what can I say about a book in the Murder She Wrote series that hasn’t already been said?

 

Author Donald Bain along with his collaborator Jessica Fletcher, have a real flare for storytelling and have done a remarkable job of continuing the adventures of Ms. Fletcher. When you read a book in this series, it’s like sitting in front of the television and watching an episode of the show the books are based on. You can hear the characters voices via the actors of from the show.

 

As with past installments in this series, DEATH OF A BLUE BLOOD was extremely well written with an entertaining plot. It’s always fun having Jessica team up with Scotland Yard detective inspector George Sutherland. They make an excellent pair. While they investigate one murder another apparent murder happens. With more suspects than a few, Mr. Bain gave my brain a real work out while trying to solve this mystery.

 

If you’re a fan of the Murder She Wrote Mystery series, you’re going to love this installment. Haven’t read any of the books but loved the show? No worries. Reading DEATH OF A BLUE BLOOD is like watching a lost episode.

 

Make sure to check out the back of the book for an excerpt from book 44, THE GHOST AND MRS. FLETCHER.

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review 2015-03-31 15:20
MURDER, SHE WROTE: KILLER IN THE KITCHEN
Murder, She Wrote: Killer in the Kitchen - Donald Bain,Jessica Fletcher

I’ve never read a Murder, She Wrote book and doubt I would have if I hadn’t been sent this one to review. My reason for not reading one? When I was a little girl I saw a movie called Bedknobs & Broomsticks with Angela Landsbury and she scared me to pieces! LOL So, I never watched the Murder, She Wrote TV show and never read the books. That being said, my apologies to Angela Landsbury, I’m sure she’s is a wonderful woman, and to Donald Bain, it was nothing personal to him.

 

On to my review.

 

I really really liked this book!

 

KILLER IN THE KITCHEN is #43 in the series, and if the first 42 were anywhere as enjoyable, I have indeed been missing out.

 

The story was so well written. While reading, I was taken back to the times I “listened” to my parents watch Murder, She Wrote. Author Donald Bain does an incredible job of keeping the voice of the show alive.

 

The mystery was very compelling. I found myself turning page after page needing to see what would happen next. The next thing I knew, I was at the end of the book and telling myself, this may have been my first Murder, She Wrote, but it won’t be my last.

 

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