While watching Murder, She Wrote, I always get a little excited when the title of yet another J.B. Fletcher novel is revealed on the show. For that reason, I wanted to compile a detailed list of all the J.B. Fletcher books that we know of.
Much of the information in this page had previously been compiled by Dr. Anne Del Borgo on her “Definitive Guide to Murder She Wrote” website. Anne sadly passed away in 2019, and so her website is not as modern and up-to-date as it could be. Therefore, I created this page so that I could add more information about each book and add more higher-resolution screenshots of any book covers that appeared on the show.
In the list below, I’ve divided the books according to the season they were first mentioned in, and I specifically list the episode in which it’s first mentioned. Wherever possible, I’ve added commentary or linked to a blog post about the episode(s) in which the book was mentioned or appeared in. (The episode summaries I link to often include screenshots of the book covers.) My intention is to add more information and update this page as I continue to closely re-watch the series.
This page was created on May 20th 2022 and last updated on July 5th 2022.
The Corpse Danced at Midnight (Pilot episode “The Murder of Sherlock Holmes”) — First seen in the pilot episode as the title of the first book J.B. Fletcher ever published. It is seen and mentioned frequently throughout the series. In S1E2 “Birds of a Feather”, Jessica’s niece Victoria mentions that it’s been optioned for a movie; and in S1E3 “Hooray for Homicide” we see the movie actually being produced (although production for it never finishes). The French title for the novel is mentioned in S4E1 “A Fashionable Way to Die“. (In S11E11 “An Egg to Die For”, the title of Jessica’s first book is said to be “The Corpse Danced Alone”; my guess is the actor speaking that line must have gotten her line mixed up.)
Dirge for a Dead Dachshund (Ep. 1 “Deadly Lady”) — Jessica has a pre-publication copy of this book at her house.
A Faded Rose Beside Her (Ep. 1 “Deadly Lady”) — This book can be seen (along with The Corpse Danced at Midnight and Dirge for a Dead Dachshund) on the bar counter in Jessica’s kitchen in several episodes in the first season.
Murder on the Amazon (Ep. 12 “Murder to a Jazz Beat”)
Lover’s Revenge (Ep. 13 “My Johnny Lies Over the Ocean”)
It should be noted that there is presumably a long gap between the events of the pilot episode and the events of the remainder of the season. In Ep.2 “Birds of a Feather”, Jessica’s niece Victoria mentions that Jessica has already had 6 best-sellers. Therefore, there is at least one other J.B. Fletcher title that is never mentioned in Season 1.
The Umbrella Murders (S2E6 “Reflections of the Mind”) — The book is also seen as part of book displays in S5E12 “Smooth Operators” and S9E4 “The Wind Around the Tower”. This is also the book that Jessica gives to Magnum in the alternate stand-alone ending to the first part of the Magnum, P.I. crossover.
Murder at the Inn (S2E7 “A Lady in the Lake”)
Murder at the Digs (S2E11 “Murder Digs Deep”)
Murder in a Minor Key (S3E14 “Murder in a Minor Key“) — This first “book-end” episode is meant to be a depiction of the novel Jessica is currently proofing.
The Stain on the Stairs (S3E21 “The Days Dwindle Down“) — The title of this book is mentioned as Jessica’s latest publication.
The Mystery of the Mutilated Minion (S3E22 “Murder She Spoke“) — Jessica is in a studio recording an audio version of this book for the blind.
The Belgrade Murders (S4E2 “When Thieves Fall Out“) — The title of this book is also mentioned in the novel Debonair in Death.
Sanitarium of Death (S4E3 “Witness for the Defense“) — The title of this book is used to explain why Jessica spent time at a sanitarium.
Calvin Canterbury’s Revenge (S4E8 “Steal Me A Story“) — It’s not clear whether this is a real book because Jessica mentions this title (along with “Murder at the Asylum”) when she tries to catch a TV exec in a lie regarding whether or not he ever read her books.
Murder at the Asylum (S4E8 “Steal Me A Story“) — Just as with the book above, it’s not clear whether this is a real book because the title is used to catch someone in a lie.
Murder Comes to Maine (S4E21 “Deadpan“) — This book was adapted in a play titled “Mainely Murder”.
Season 5, 6, and 7
There weren’t very many new J.B. Fletcher novels mentioned during these seasons. Those that were include:
Ashes, Ashes, Fall Down Dead (S5E12 “Smooth Operators“) — The title of the book is just visible as the book that is brought to the shady hospital to blow her cover. The book is also seen in S8E4 “Thicker Than Water“. (A copy of the book is also visible in S9E4 “The Wind Around the Tower”.)
Good-bye, Charlie (S6E12 “Good-bye Charlie”) — This J.B. Fletcher book is the basis of this “bookend episode”.
Yours Truly, Damian Sinclair (S7E8 “The Great Twain Robbery” and S7E18 “Where Have You Gone Billy Boy?“) — The fact that J.B. Fletcher based the hero of this book on Dennis Stanton helps explain the series of “bookend” episodes that featured him in this season.
The Corpse That Wasn’t There (S8E1 “Bite the Big Apple“) — This title was mentioned by Lt. Boyle upon meeting Jessica for the first time. It is unclear whether this is indeed a completely new novel, or whether he was perhaps confused about this particular title.
The Messengers of Midnight (S8E10 “The List of Yuri Lermentov“) — Jessica gives a copy of this book to her friend in Washington, D.C. We later learn, in S8E13 “Incident in Lot 7“, that this book is being adapted into a movie. In “Incident in Lot 7” it is suggested that the book is based on the events depicted in S8E9 “The Committee“; however, this is contradicted by clues we get regarding the book’s plot in “The List of Yuri Lermentov”. (Copies of the book are also visible in S9E4 “The Wind Around the Tower”.)
Le Poison Dans Mon Coeur (S8E14 “The Monte Carlo Murders“) — A fan of Jessica’s gets her to sign a copy of the French version of one of her novels. The French title translates to “The Poison in My Heart”. However, as is frequently the case, foreign language versions of a book sometimes come up with their own titles rather than directly translating the original, and so it’s possible that this title corresponds to a book already on this list. (See for comparison S4E1 “A Fashionable Way to Die” in which we learn the very convoluted French title for The Corpse Danced at Midnight.)
All the Murderers (S9E1 “Murder in Milan”) — The book was made into a movie that premiered at the Milan Film Festival.
Murder at the Ridge Top (S9E3 “The Mole”)
The Corpse Swam by Moonlight (S9E4 “The Wind Around the Tower”) — The book is also shown in S11E10 as the first book by J.B. Fletcher to be released as part of the “Murder of the Month Club”.
The Killer Called Collect (S9E4 “The Wind Around the Tower”)
The Dead Man Sang (S9E4 “The Wind Around the Tower”) — The book is seen as part of a book display at the pharmacy/general store. (It is similarly seen as part of a store’s book display in S10E11 “Northern Explosion”)
The Corpse at Vespers (S9E14 “Killer Radio”)
The Triple Crown Murders (S9E14 “Killer Radio”)
The Crypt of Death (S10E3 “The Legacy of Borbey House”)
A Killing at Hastings Rock (S10E5 “A Virtual Murder”)
The Uncaught (S10E9 “Murder at a Discount”)
Murder in White (S10E10 “Murder in White”)
Stone Cold Dead on Wall Street (S10E15 “Murder on the Thirtieth Floor”)
Endangered (S11E1 “A Nest of Vipers”) — Mr. Gandolph mentions having read this book when he is first introduced to Jessica.
The Launch Pad Murders (S11E5 “Dear Deadly”) — This is the book that Jessica was working towards serializing in the San Francisco Union newspaper.
The Man Cried Die (S11E10 “Murder of the Month Club”) — The title and cover of this book is visible on promotional posters hanging in the hallways of the informercial studio; the posters tout this as “J.B. Fletcher’s newest”.
The Venomous Valentine (S11E11 “An Egg to Die For”) — The book and book cover is prominently displayed at Jessica’s booth at the publishing convention. It is also the book that Jessica tries to get Mike Connor’s character to read in S11E16 “Film Flam”. Given that Jessica learns about venomous snakes in the season premiere “A Nest of Vipers”, I wonder whether this is the book that resulted from the research she did in that episode. Jessica is also seen autographing this book at the police station in S12E11 “Unwilling Witness”.
Murder at Midnight (S11E11 “An Egg to Die For”) — The title is visible on the spines of a stack of books at Jessica’s booth at the publishing convention. The Russian title for the book is also mentioned during the episode by David Ogden Stiers’ character. Given how similar this title is to The Messengers of Midnight from Season 8, I wonder if this is the same book re-issued under a different title. The only evidence against that theory is Jessica saying that she didn’t know how the book was going to end as she was writing it, which seems a bit incompatible with the idea that she based the book on real events.
Runway to Murder (S11E17 “Murder a la Mode”)
A Case of a Half of Murder (S12E24 “Death by Demographics”)
Notably, in S12E11, Jessica states that her 23rd book is about to be published that week.
The Zero Aspect (Movie 4: “The Celtic Riddle”)
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This is so impressive! I really appreciate your thorough work in this. Just incredible!
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