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Manhattans & Murder (1994)

Manhattans & Murder (1994)
3.79 of 5 Votes: 4
0451181425 (ISBN13: 9780451181428)
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Manhattans & Murder (1994)
Manhattans & Murder (1994)

About book: [As always, this rating is relevant only to this corner of fiction: MSW "novels" and others based on TV shows. Obviously with these mass market, pop fic, "readables" I don't consider the quality of the prose or anything.]This is the second novel based on "Murder, She Wrote" and it's clear that at this point in time Donald Bain hadn't yet watched the show. At all. In the first novel he made the big faux pas in having Jessica Fletcher drive a car. On the show, she never ever drove--the creators rightly figured that her needing rides from others would force her to interact with other characters (as well as pay/not pay and tip/not tip cabbies in order to show us Jessica's frugal side.) Here the most glaring mistake is in having Mort (or 'Morton' as Jessica calls him in this book--another mistake, as well as her calling Seth by his surname) be from Maine. Nearly every other episode Sheriff Metzger mentions that he's from New York City. He's a fish out of water in Cabot Cove, Maine. To see him meet a New York cop and be so befuddled by the NYPD's shadiness is just ridiculous. Chagrined, maybe, but not befuddled.My favorite mistake in all the book though is Jessica looking in the mirror and remarking on her red hair. Red hair. Mr. Bain, you should've at least looked at the cover of your previous book and noticed Jessica's a blonde. Or should've looked at any picture of Angela Lansbury--her do's pretty much constant. There's just no excuse. Even if you don't like TV or this show, how can you not know Gaslight, or the Manchurian Candidate? Anyway, the list can go on, but I've heard Bain improves as the series continues.As for the rest of the book--the plot was a little intriguing to start with, enough to turn the pages last night. The action seems like it's about to pick up when Bain involves Seth and Mort (or 'Morton') but these guys are horribly underused. I read a review on Amazon in which the reviewer stated that although we don't get much of Cabot Cove seeing Seth and Mort frolicking around FAO Schwartz more than made up for it. They're trip isn't even a scene. It's mentioned in passing, a sentence or two of summary. I've read a lot of mysteries and I have to say that this climax was practically devoid of tension or excitement. There was barely any conflict. Of all the endings I've read this was the absolute worst. Definitely. Jessica and company show up to confront the killer(s), and nothing happens. What a dud. Some people really have frighteningly low expectations. Including whoever keeps green-lighting these books. If somebody at Penguin isn't actively seeking a better co-writer for Mrs. Fletcher, somebody should be fired. The bottom line, Manhattans & Murder is recommended only for fans of the genre or amateur writers, in that it might be interesting to see how clumsily a book's plot threads can be knotted (not knitted) together, printed, and sold.

Jessica Fletcher is in New York to launch her latest bestseller. Naturally where Jessica Fletcher goes murder and mayhem follows. Jessica is shopping in New York when she sees Waldo Morse, a convicted drug dealer who disappeared into the witness protection program when he testified against fellow drug dealers. Jessica is surprised when he asks her to meet him the next day. However, the next day Jessica witnesses Waldo's death and as she starts to snoop into the life of ex-Cabot Cove resident, she gets drawn into the world of drug dealers and the seedier side of NYC. Together with two of her friends from Cabot Cover and a reporter Jessica tries to uncover the truth.I absolutely love the Murder She Wrote tv series, and since the show is long over, I've been reading the books written by Donald Bain. I really liked this one because even though it was set away from Cabot Cove it still involved residents of Cabot Cove. I liked how Seth and Mort came up to help Jessica in the big city, and their impressions of NYC were great.Jessica acknowledges that she's a big snoop and seeing her interactions within NYC and at various author events confirms this. She's a fun character to read, as she tries to solve the mystery before the police.The mystery was really fascinating, especially as it is set in the seedier side of life, involving drug dealers. I definitely intend to pick up more books in the Murder She Wrote series!
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I think Donald Bain is still struggling with the Murder, She Wrote universe in this second entry to the series. While he's remembered Jessica doesn't drive (omg the fares she's racking up in this one with her stakeouts) there are a lot of other little things which pull the reader out of believing this is the same setting as the television programme, populated with the same characters. As in the first one, I can see most of Jessica's dialogue working if I use my imagination divorced from the description, but the prose lacks the right tone, and the supporting characters imported from the show are just off in all respects.With that said, on its own merits the mystery is kind of odd, but the book is serviceable overall, and I recall fewer weird scene descriptions than in the first. These are nice airport reading.
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