Murder in Season by Jon Land and Jessica Fletcher

Hello Kittens! It’s November. There’s been an election and Thanksgiving is coming. I’ll just say this: it’s a crazy time to be alive. I’m doing well, but not reading as much right now…just too much chaos going on. Nonetheless, I had a few days off last week and was able to get to the newest release concerning my favorite female sleuth: Jessica Fletcher. My favorite thing about this newest book is that it returns to the Jessica Fletcher that most of us know and love while also pausing to poke a little fun at the phenomenon that is the exceptionally high murder rate in Cabot Cove. I appreciate that the author added modern touches to Jessica’s life and broke up a few of her routines in this book without straying too far from her overall character development.

Title: Murder, She Wrote: Murder in Season

Murder, She Wrote: Murder in Season

Author: Jon Land & Jessica Fletcher

Author website: https://www.jonlandbooks.com/

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime

Publish date: November 24, 2020

ISBN: 9781984804365

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop

Summary:

In this holiday installment to the series, the reader returns home with Jessica Fletcher after her months-long stay at Hill House. Having lost her home in a fire a few books back, Jessica is thrilled to be back home even if everything is not exactly as it was before. She is experiencing waves of nostalgia finally being back home after months spent living in a hotel. As she prepares for the holidays, and a visit from her nephew Grady, along with his wife and young son, Jessica finds herself embroiled in a new mystery. So what else is new?

When her home needs a few more updates in order to pass inspection, Jessica is just anxious to get all of the formalities over with. Unfortunately, fate has other plans. While digging on her property to install a new septic system, two bodies and a historical chest filled with long-lost documents are found. Suddenly, Jessica is thrust into investigating how the bodies got there, who they belong to, and why they were buried with a stash of historical documents.

Long-time readers will be glad to know that all of Cabot Cove’s favorite citizens make an appearance in this story. Dr. Seth Hazlitt is as ornery as ever and everyone’s favorite Sheriff Metzger is still wondering why he left New York City to move to the murder capital of Maine. We even get a few references to formed sheriff Amos Tupper and a visit from Private Detective Harry McGraw. All in all, this is a cozy installment in a long-running series that sees Jessica placed in less danger than the last few installments. This story feels more like the old-school Jessica Fletcher, lending a hand to a stalled investigation and letting life inspire her moments of investigative brilliance.

Why I liked it:
After a shaky installment in “The Murder of Twelve” which came out back in May, I didn’t go into this story expecting to love it. Land has only been writing the last couple of books in the series and I felt like the last one strayed too far from Jessica’s character. Thankfully, this book did not suffer from any of those issues. This is the Jessica that most of us know and love from the television series. She’s in the middle of the investigation because it literally starts in her lawn, but she’s not in overt danger.  There are pretty good red herrings, a mysterious recurring clue that isn’t as obvious as it first seems, and a supporting cast of characters who carry their own agendas well. Also, Harry McGraw was always one of my favorite side characters in the story, so I really loved seeing him play a crucial role in the development of this story.

What I would like to change:

There’s one part of this whole story that really bugs me. How is Jessica continuing to live in her house without a functioning septic system? At one point there are like 4 extra people staying there….so how is everyone dealing with that bathroom situation? It’s a little thing, but it did stick out to me.

Disclaimer: I received an electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My library rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon5 glasses of lemonade= you could recommend this book to anyone.  There is nothing in here that is going to upset anyone and you could start handing it out on street corners. 

My personal preference rating: I gave this title 4 stars. It was a really cozy read at a time when I really needed one.

Murder in the Storybook Cottage by Ellery Adams

Hello Kittens! I continue to read up a storm from my quarantine conditions and I have got a treat for you today. It’s the sixth book in a series, so if you haven’t read the Book Retreat Mystery Series by Ellery Adams, now would be a good time to get started. I’ll be honest with you about this one: it saved the series for me. I found the fifth book to be a little underwhelming and I was starting to lose faith in the storyline. There’s a fantastic subplot that goes along with the series and I felt like the fifth book stretched the believability too far. That being said, “Murder in the Storybook Cottage” was amazing! It is a cozy quick read that will be available in less than two weeks and I think it may be just what someone people need to help deal with the stir crazy nature of staying at home.

Title: Murder in the Storybook Cottage

Author: Ellery AdamsMurder in the Storybook Cottage (Book Retreat Mysteries #6)

Author website: https://elleryadamsmysteries.com/

Publisher: Kensington

Publish date: April 28th, 2020

ISBN: 9781496715675

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

***If you are unfamiliar with the Book Retreat series, this review will contain some spoilers.***

This is the sixth installment in the Book Retreat Mystery series by Ellery Adams following Jane Steward, her sons, and her loyal friends and staff at Storyton Hall. I discovered this series a few years ago after devouring Adams’ Books by the Bay series and fell instantly in love with the book-themed resort located in the mountains of Virginia. This book restored my faith in the series after a somewhat disappointing (in my opinion) 5th book.

We join the action as Jane prepares Storyton Hall to host a children’s book themed weekend for both book industry insiders and families. She is especially excited to be hosting her first Golden Ticket family, a program Jane initiated to bring a deserving family to Storyton who would not normally be able to afford a vacation to Storyton. Things are going well for Jane and her friends, especially as she continues to sell off the contents of the secret library in order to keep her family safe. All seems well as Jane and the staff prepare for a magical weekend, but even with their efforts to mitigate the danger at Storyton, a Rip Van Winkle (code for a deceased guest) is found on the property. The victim is unknown to Jane, her staff, or seemingly any of the arriving guests, which complicates the efforts to explain this death.

Adams has taken this series in a completely new direction with this addition and I am completely supportive of it. Jane is a strong woman, managing a business, taking care of two boys, and setting boundaries on her relationship. But this time, we see the toll that so many years of fighting to protect everyone in her life has taken on her. Jane wants nothing more than for everyone to be safe at Storyton, and she can’t believe that even with all of her efforts, there is still danger afoot. Fortunately for Jane, she never has to stand alone. With her friends the Cover Girls, her steadfast Fins, and her family surrounding her, we know that she will get to the bottom of the mystery while ensuring that all her guests have a weekend they will never forget.

The shining star of this series is truly the setting. When I get to the end of each story and remember that Storyton Hall is not a real place, I am always disappointed. Adams has designed a world that cherishes readers in all forms and she introduces characters that represent the diversity of literature. The books don’t shy away from the tough subjects: this one addresses racism and the lack of diversity in children’s literature. I am really looking forward to seeing where this series will go next…especially with the information that was set up in the epilogue! I can’t believe I have to wait to see how two of my favorite series are going to come together.

Disclaimer: I received an electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads.  You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.

You have no idea how badly I wanted to give this book a 5-glass rating, but it has a few scenes that could be upsetting to some readers. There is mention of an accident that results in the death of a child, and there are also two somewhat grisly murders. While the details aren’t too explicit, there’s enough there that could put someone off. I would almost move this addition to the series out of the cozy category because of the manner of the deaths. Nonetheless, the murders themselves take place off of the page and there are no spicy scenes, so this is a series I will continue to widely recommend to mystery readers.