Donald & Renee Paley-Bain and Hartford Books Examiner will be giving away one signed copy each of Murder, She Wrote: Domestic Malice (hardcover) and The Fine Art of Murder (paperback). For your chance to win, simply email HBE at HartfordBooksExaminer@aol.com by no later than Wednesday, October 31st, at 11:59 PM EST, and include “Giveaway” in the subject line. Recipients will be selected at random.
Today, Hartford Books Examiner reviews Murder, She Wrote: Domestic Malice (Obsidian, $23.95) by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain.
Released earlier this month, Domestic Malice – titled in homage to the annual Malice Domestic mystery convention – is the thirty-eighth entry in this enduring series, and revisits author/amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher in her beloved hometown of Cabot Cove, Maine, after recent sojourns to Italy and Bermuda. Its publication coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness month (October), a theme that is reflected in the book’s plot.
As the story opens, the reader is thrust into a heated town meeting debate concerning funding for Cabot Cove’s women’s shelter. The ever civic-minded Jessica sits on the shelter’s board of directors, and soon has occasion to discover that resident Myriam Wolcott, a mother of two, is being battered by her husband. Mrs. Wolcott refuses to be relocated along with her children, and also declines to report the abuse to authorities. Days later, her spouse, a well-liked and respected businessman, is shot dead in the driveway of the family home. Is this a case of domestic violence that has resulted in murder?
Inevitably, Jessica is drawn into the investigation, and discovers that Cabot Cove is not immune to the alarming trends in domestic abuse. As she tries to discern the facts surrounding Josh Wolcott’s demise, she is met with resistance from the family and certain members of the community. (These circumstances allow readers a glimpse into both the psychology of victims and abusers and the ripple effect that such violence creates.) While it’s possible that shame is the causation for silence and stonewalling, it’s also possible that other factors are at play – and that there may be more motives for murder than meet the eye.
Though the subject matter is indeed dark, the simple charms of Cabot Cove – and the presence of Jessica’s cohorts in crime solving, Dr. Seth Hazlitt and Sheriff Mort Metzger – serve to temper that heaviness. (PI Harry McGraw, who fans of the TV show might remember, also makes an appearance.) Besides the requisite murder and mayhem, ample attention is given to companionable dinners, friendly rivalries, and preparation for the annual Blueberry Festival, which serve to remind readers that goodness and decency still exist amidst the more sinister side of humanity.
Domestic Malice, while still very much within the realm of earlier MSW novels, is a bit of a departure in the sense that its subject matter, distinct separation parts, and narrative variances. While this approach may be somewhat jarring for longtime readers (and/or “cozy” enthusiasts), it’s a worthwhile endeavor – and one that exposes a very real threat that exists beyond the confines of a book. This melding of fiction and fact not only makes for a riveting, complexly plotted whodunit but offers up some serious conversational points. While good books hold your attention, it’s the great ones that keep you thinking long after the last page has been turned…
If you or somebody you know is being abused, help is available twenty-four hours a day through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
With thanks to Donald and Renee Paley-Bain for generously providing two signed copies of Domestic Malice for giveaway.
Don’t forget: To enter for your chance to win one of two signed books, simply email HBE at HartfordBooksExaminer@aol.com by no later than Wednesday, October 31st, at 11:59 PM EST and include “Giveaway” in the subject line.
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