May 9th, 2016

Me

Book Critique 2016 – 02/02/2016 #35: Murder, She Wrote - Skating on Thin Ice

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all books under Murder, She Wrote series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: If you want an easy and quick read pick it up.

Another book written by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain based on the Universal Television Series Murder, She Wrote is Skating on Thin Ice published in April 2011. Typical like any of the books written this one also keeps close to the spirit of the TV show. This time the story revolves around Cabot Cove, where the mystery writer Jessica Fletcher lives.



The Ice Arena at Cabot Cove gets refurbished and the owner Eldridge Coddington has great plans for the arena. Not only it being modernized, he added a second rink to the arena to accommodate Hockey so he could being in a semi-pro team that he would like to call as Cabot Cove Lobsters. Apart from that he also was going to open a world-class figure skating school. He brings in Brian Devlin, a former gold medalist to head the school for elite athletes. The two members of the pairs team that Devlin was going to coach were 18-year old Christine Allen from San Francisco and 24-25 year old Alexei Olshansky from Russia. The second pairs team that Mark Rosner, the other coach, trained were Marisa Brown and Jeremy Hapgood. And then there was the ice staking arena itself open for public to have some good fun nights.

All seems well with the arrangement until Alexei Olshansky turns up dead in the pit that collects the cleaned up snow and water by Zamboni. Who would have wanted to kill this young skater even though he was obnoxious and rude most times? Mrs. Fletcher couldn't wrap it around her head and digs deeper specially after she was one of the persons who had found Alexei. Would it be Irina Bednikova, former partner of Alexei who was in town to take him back? Her rumors that she was spreading about Marisa and Alexei - could they have triggered someone to put Alexei permanently to bed? What were the constant bickering going on between Mark and Brian? Was Eldridge up too deep in the efforts to fulfil his dream? What was the secret that Alexei knew about Brian? What about Jeremy Hapgood - have his affections towards Christine caused him to eliminate Alexei as the competitor both off and on ice?

A semi-convoluted plot that would point us to all answers for questions in Jessica's mind and eventually to the actual murderer. Well written and an easy read although the suspense has been kept till the end in this one. Good closing.
Me

Book Critique 2016 – 02/03/2016: Murder, She Wrote #5 - Martinis & Mayhem

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all books under Murder, She Wrote series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: Definite pick if you are looking for a good mystery.

A trip to San Francisco to promote her new book - Blood Relations - lands Jessica Fletcher in the midst of a closed case, attempted murder and media frenzy that she might right books on real murders. Needless to say she ends up meddling with the law, so to speak, in solving the cold case too. That's what the story plot revolves around in this 1995 book Martinis & Mayhem written by Donald Bain and Jessica Fletcher.



Jessica Fletcher was more than happy to go to San Francisco to promote her new book, giving her a chance to escape the heat wave in Cabot Cove. She was also looking forward to spend a few days with George Sutherland, her friend that she had met when she was in England at her dear friend Marjorie Ainsworth's home. Incidentally she and George worked together to solve Marjorie's murder. Visiting the Fisherman's wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Ride on the Cable Cars and also a bit of romantic rendezvous with George - these were on her list. Little did she know that she would be tangled with a murder, albeit this was a closed case.

All of it started when she visited the women's prison to talk about writing and benefits behind it to the prisoners. All though the talk / discussion went well - more than she had expected - she walked out with a diary in her bag, unawares. A diary belonging to one Kimberly Steffer convicted of murdering her husband Mark Steffer. She was a noted author of children's book. Intrigued by the diary, Jessica peruses through it and decides to help Kimberly in anyway she can to prove what Kimberly stated in her book - that she was not guilty of the murder.

In the process she meets with Bobby McCormick, a reporter who had covered the trial, and believed in the innocence of Kimberly. Mark's partner in the restaurant "What's to Eat?" in Sausalito, Robert Fredrickson - a character that Kimberly describes as "he was capable of doing anything to get what he wants". She has a tense encounter with Nancy Antonio and Joan Steffer (Mark's first-wife) which doubles her determination to help Kimberly and her step-daughter Ellie. As her investigation moves forward with help from George and Bobby, she encounters another murder/ suicide of Brett Pearl - an illustrator who had worked for Kimberly Steffer. Is his murder / suicide connected in any way? Who killed Mark Steffer? Why was someone trying to kill Jessica Fletcher? Despite the risk to her life, Jessica works through the hurdles with aid from George and Bobby and eventually solves the true crime.

As opposed to the other books published in recent years, this plot was a bit more complex and had well enough twists to make it interesting. Keeping the element of surprise till the end was perhaps the key for this plot to be enjoyable. Another good book for a lazy night.