Pub. Date: 05/04/2016
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group, NAL
In the newest in the USA Today bestselling mystery series, Jessica Fletcher visits New York City during fashion week, only to discover someone has rather fatal designs...
Jessica is in Manhattan to attend the debut of a new designer. Formerly Sandy Black of Cabot Cove, the young man has reinvented himself as Xandr Ebon, and is introducing his evening wear collection to the public and—more important—to the industry's powers-that-be: the stylists, the magazine editors, the buyers, and the wealthy clientele who can make or break him. At the show, the glitz and glamour are dazzling until a young model—a novice, taking her first walk down the runway—shockingly collapses and dies. Natural causes? Perhaps. But when another model is found dead, a famous cover girl and darling of the paparazzi, the fashion world gets nervous.
Two models. Two deaths. Their only connection? Xandr Ebon. Jessica's crime-solving instincts are put to the test as she sorts through the egos, the conflicts of interest, the spiteful accusations, and the secrets, all the while keeping an amorous detective at arm's length. But she'll have to dig deep to uncover a killer. A designer's career is on the line. And another model could perish in a New York minute.As I said above, Murder, She Wrote is one of my favourite things to watch on a lazy Saturday. And that is all down to the amazing Jessica Fletcher, played by the brilliant Angela Lansbury. She is a star and she infuses the character of Jessica with so much warmth and enthusiasm that you simply can't help but follow her. I also really enjoyed seeing an older woman taking part in the fun than seeing another twenty-year old experiencing all the world. So I was really hoping that her character would translate as easily into the books. On the one hand book-Jessica had the same eye for detail, the kindness and the politeness. On the other hand, she comes across as somehow colder, a little bit stifled and almost, dare I say it, annoying. Where this difference comes from I'm not quite sure but I think Lansbury probably has a big part to play in it.
Overall the plot of Design for Murder is quite interesting. The Bains take on the fashion industry, critiquing the way in which the industry mistreats young girls trying to become "famous" and how incredibly antagonistic everyone within the industry is with each other. As such the industry comes out of the novel very negatively, stripped of its glitz and glamour. Partially this is the strength of having a main character such as Jessica Fletcher who, thanks to her age, is not as easily blinded and can cast a fresher glance on an industry like this. The murder mystery in Design for Murder, then, is well researched and interesting but not very complex. For those who have seen Murder, She Wrote or are familiar with these types of murder mysteries won't be too surprised by any of the twists and turns. But overall the novel makes for a cozy mystery.
The writing style of the Bains is incredibly easy and comfortable to read. Each chapter seems to be summarised to make sure the reader never forgets what happened or loses track of any of the plot developments. On the one hand this is great because you don't get lost, but on the other hand it severely slows the pace of the novel down. In the end this is down to personal taste, how intense the reader wants his mystery to be. I need a pace that is a little bit higher for my own mysteries. One thing I also had a problem with was a storyline about a New York detective and his intentions towards Jessica. It both felt forced and frequently put Jessica in an unnecessarily uncomfortable position. It felt discourteous to Jessica to make her deal with something like that when there are exciting murders to solve.
I give this novel...
I still love Jessica Fletcher and I did enjoy finally reading a Murder, She Wrote book. However, Design for Murder wasn't entirely my cup of tea. The pace was a little bit too slow for me but the Bains clearly put effort into the research for this novel. I'd recommend it to fans of cozy mysteries and, of course, Murder, She Wrote novels.