Gin and Daggers by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

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EDIT October 1st 2021: The following first appeared as part of my “Reading Log” series of posts, in which I gave a brief recap of my thoughts about the books I read each month. I have since changed the focus of this website to be on TV shows in particular, so while I deleted all my old “Reading Log” posts so that they would not clutter up the website, I decided to separate out and maintain those sections of the posts that pertained to books related to mystery TV shows. The following is one such brief review of a book related to a TV series.

Gin and Daggers is the first book in the series of Murder, She Wrote spin-off novels. While I have been a fan of the show for years, this was the first time I had ever read any of the books. Note that the book was rereleased in 2000, and this is the edition I read (it included some changes/corrections from the first edition). The following are just some thoughts I had upon finishing reading it . . .

While the story was generally enjoyable, I was bothered by several inconsistencies between the book and the show.

  1. On the show, if someone doesn’t drive, they arrive in Cabot Cove on a bus, but in the book there’s a mention of a local airport.
  2. There are a lot of references in the book to an earlier trip that Jessica made to London with Frank (her deceased husband), at which time they stayed at the Savoy.  On the show, it’s implied that when Frank was alive they were not rich enough to take overseas vacations, let alone be able to afford to stay in such a swanky hotel.
  3. Even more incongruent is the part where Jessica mentions Frank’s support of her while she worked on her novels — fans of the show know this cannot be true because Jessica only took up writing after Frank died.
  4. In the book, Jessica consistently calls Cabot Cove Sheriff Mort Metzger “Morton”.  His name was always referred to as Mort on the show, never Morton, (and I always thought Mort might be short for Mortimer).

The inconsistencies in the book may be a product of its time: the circumstances of Jessica’s writing career were only mentioned in the pilot episode aired in 1984.  Since the book was published while the show was still running, it probably wasn’t airing any reruns, and in a pre-internet age it may have been difficult to verify those facts.

Also notable is the fact that the book was published in June 1989.  The previous season was the first season without Amos Tupper as Sheriff. And Mort Metzger’s character didn’t appear until an episode in November 1988, just a few months before the book’s publication. I suspect that the original draft of the book was written with Amos in mind (the Cabot Cove Sheriff’s actions/dialogue reminded me more of what Amos would do/say rather than Mort), so it’s possible that the name was changed in haste without really having enough knowledge of this new character.

Click here to purchase or read more about Gin & Daggers on Amazon.

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