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Although I am a long-time fan of Murder, She Wrote the TV show, it wasn’t until relatively recently that I discovered and started reading the spin-off novels. Fans of these books already know that they were authored by Donald Bain from their inception until his passing in 2017. The series was briefly taken over by Jon Land, but the most recently published book in the series was written by Terrie Farley Moran.
Killing in a Koi Pond was first published last June (2021), but it was just this past weekend that I had managed to find some down time in my schedule to fully absorb myself in reading it.
I had been particularly looking forward to Terrie taking over the series because, having now read a couple of the books by Donald Bain and Jon Land, I felt that they couldn’t quite capture Jessica Fletcher’s female perspective. And I’m happy to say that now that I have had a chance to read Terrie’s take on Jessica’s narration, I was not disappointed.
In my interview with Terrie back in March, I had learned that she was a big fan of the show when it first aired, and the narration certainly reflects that. From page one, I felt the same familiar feeling I get while watching an episode of Murder, She Wrote. The story premise ticks all of the boxes that fans immediately associate with the show. Jessica arriving in a new town to visit one of her many dear old friends (in this case an old sorority sister living in South Carolina)? Check. A murder victim that very few people seem to like? Check. A town sheriff who is dismissive of Jessica’s suggestions and ideas? Check. Throw in a couple of phone calls to Jessica’s pal Dr. Seth Hazlitt back in Cabot Cove, and add a little bit of long-distance investigative help from Boston P.I. Harry McGraw, and you’ve got yourself a stellar Murder, She Wrote story.
If there is one quibble I have about the book it’s that I wish the suspects were more prominent right from the start. Although I suppose it is realistic for people to attempt to hang back and blend into the background soon after a murder, I just felt they weren’t “suspicious” enough. But there was enough happening in the first part of the story to keep me patiently reading until the investigation got into full swing. And if you’re like me — a big fan of the show with a keen sense of the typical clues that give Jessica that big aha moment at the end of each episode — you might just solve the case before she does!