Jessica Fletcher is in the Berkshires attending a writers’ conference at a historic mansion where her friends the Savoys are hosting a murder-mystery party. As both a crime solver and a mystery author, Jessica is an old hand at this kind of thing. So she swears to the Savoys that she won’t reveal the secrets of their play and goes about enjoying the weekend with her colleagues.
But when a young actor’s murder scene appears all too real, no one can tell what’s scripted and what isn’t. They say the show must go on, but everyone is wondering: Who really dunit?
About the Author
Donald Bain, Jessica Fletcher’s longtime collaborator, is the writer of over eighty books, many of them bestsellers.
Read an Excerpt
Table of Contents
Answers to the questions posed at Mohawk House’s Murder Mystery Weekend, which ...
. . . AND . . . CURTAIN!
“Who’s this?” the actor playing Detective Carboroni asked the character Whittaker.
“My daughter’s former suitor,” Whittaker replied, sounding pleased.
“That you?” the detective said to Cynthia.
She responded by letting out a bloodcurdling wail and running from the stage. Her mother, Victoria, had collapsed on the couch, where she fanned herself with a magazine.
Carboroni nudged his toe into Paul’s side. There was no response from the fallen actor.
It all sounded like scripted banter, but I sensed something was wrong. From my vantage point, I could tell that Paul hadn’t moved a muscle since stumbling into the scene and falling at Cynthia’s feet. The pool of fake blood had been widening. I saw a stricken look come over Larry Savoy’s face. He motioned to Melinda in the wings, and the curtain began to close. . . .
OTHER BOOKS IN THE Murder, She Wrote SERIES
Manhattans & Murder
Rum & Razors
Brandy & Bullets
Martinis & Mayhem
A Deadly Judgment
A Palette for Murder
The Highland Fling Murders
Murder on the QE2
Murder in Moscow
A Little Yuletide Murder
Murder at the Powderhorn Ranch
Knock ’Em Dead
Gin & Daggers
Trick or Treachery
Blood on the Vine
Murder in a Minor Key
Provence—To Die For
You Bet Your Life
Majoring in Murder
Dying to Retire
A Vote for Murder
The Maine Mutiny
Margaritas & Murder
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First Printing, April 2006
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eISBN : 978-1-101-01072-3
For good friends,
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NOTE: The answers to the questions that appear at the beginning of each chapter can be found at the end of the book.
The girl was young and pretty. The large yellow sunflowers on the mid-calf-length white dress she wore perfectly matched her blond hair and seemingly sunny disposition. Her smile was wide and genuine; there was a sweetness about her that was palpable.
The young man, named Paul, standing next to her was not so sanguine. He was of medium height and wore a brooding expression along with his khaki slacks, two-tone boat shoes, and pale blue button-down shirt. A maroon cardigan tied loosely around his neck and draped down his back completed his preppy wardrobe. He was handsome in a rough sort of way. By that I mean there was a thickness to his facial features that contributed to what seemed like a perpetual frown. He lacked interest in the others in the drawing room—with the single exception, of course, of the young woman, whose name was Cynthia.
With the young couple were an older man wearing a purple silk smoking jacket, and a patrician woman in knee-high riding boots, wide-hipped tan jodhpurs, and a white silk blouse.
“Feel like taking a walk?” Paul asked Cynthia in a voice that carried to the others. Softly he added, “Let’s get out of here.” He ducked his head down, gave her a quick kiss on the neck, and stroked her arm, gliding his hand from her shoulder down to her fingers.
Cynthia shivered and took a step forward. “What a grand idea,” she said, turning to the older couple. “I certainly could use a walk. I hear there’s a full moon.”
“You won’t see any moon,” declared the older man, whose name was Monroe Whittaker. “Not with the fog out there off the lake. Besides, there’s still snow on the ground, and more in the forecast.” His tone was that of a board chairman used to making statements that no one would dare challenge.
“That’s okay, Daddy,” Cynthia said, plucking at the collar of her dress. “It’s so warm in here with the fire going. I really need some fresh air. I’m sure Paul does, too. Besides, you always say a walk after dinner is good for your digestion. Isn’t that how you put it?”
His ruddy, full face set in stone, her father said nothing. Victoria Whittaker addressed Paul. “We have a very busy day tomorrow with the attorneys coming. Cynthia will need a clear head. I want to be sure she gets enough rest. Make sure you don’t keep her out late again.”
“He won’t,” Cynthia said, kissing her mother’s cheek. They put on outdoor jackets, and she wrapped a red and green tartan scarf around her neck. Smiling at Paul, she grabbed his hand and led him through the French doors into the garden, her voice trailing back into the room. “Let’s look for that moon anyway.”
“I haven’t changed my mind,” Monroe Whittaker said the moment they were gone. “I don’t like him.”
“That’s patently obvious,” his wife said, checking her hair in the mirror over the fireplace. “But the least you can do is be civil to him this weekend.”
“Civil?” Monroe snorted. “How about if I pack his bag and send him away from here? Would that be civil enough?”
“Monroe,” his wife scolded, “you’re not thinking clearly. Cynthia is like all young women her age. She’s rebelling against us because it’s the thing to do. I share your opinion of Paul. He’s obviously not of Cynthia’s class. I’ll give him credit for trying to dress the part, although anyone can see the poor quality of his clothes.” Her small laugh was dismissive. “Not that I’d expect him to know the difference. His father is a policeman in New York City. Good Lord, you know how crude policemen can be.”
“A cop? How do you know that?”
Victoria turned to her husband, her hand still on her hair. “I don’t recall exactly. Does it matter? He must have told me. But the point is that the more we challenge the young man, the more we’ll push Cynthia into the relationship. Trust me, darling, the best way to see the last of him is to shower him with kindness and expose him to our daughter’s lifestyle and breeding. He’ll become uncomfortable soon enough and seek his own kind.” She turned back to the mirror. “I think I’ll go up. Are you coming?”
“Not yet,” he growled.
With that, Victoria left her husband alone in the room.
Monroe went to the doors and peered outside. “Damn fog,” he muttered. He walked to his desk and slumped heavily in the chair, eyes narrowed, mouth set in a harsh slash. Suddenly, he slammed his fist on the desktop. He reached into a desk drawer, withdrew a bulky envelope that he shoved into the pocket of his smoking jacket, and stormed out the doors into the garden.
As he left, a maid carrying a carpet sweeper entered the room through another door. She leaned the sweeper against the wall, pulled a cloth from her apron pocket, and proceeded to dust the furniture, moving from a table to the mantel to the desk. She ran her dustrag across the desk’s broad mahogany top, then paused and bit her lip. Her eyes darted from the French doors back toward the door through which she’d entered the room. Gingerly, so as not to make a sound, she drew open one drawer after another. Each time, she dipped down and twisted her body to see into the back, and rummaged inside with her free hand.
Victoria’s voice could be heard from another room. “Monroe, have you seen my handbag?”
The maid swiftly closed the drawers, ran to the other end of the room, and resumed her dusting. She was only a minute into her chores when the room’s stillness was assaulted by the sound of a weapon being discharged somewhere outside, followed by a woman’s piercing scream.
Cynthia burst through the doors. “Help!” she shouted. “Someone help me!”
Paul stumbled into the room behind her, his jacket open, his hand pressed against his chest. Cardinal red blood oozed through his fingers and ran down the front of his blue shirt. The maid gasped, covering her mouth with her hand. Then, wailing, she rushed out the door and was replaced by Monroe and Victoria Whittaker coming in from opposite ends of the room. Paul fell to his knees at Cynthia’s feet. With a final, agonizing gasp, he pitched forward, his face coming to rest on her shoe.
“Daddy!” Cynthia shrieked and collapsed into her father’s arms, sobbing.
Victoria tiptoed toward the prone body and leaned in closer. “Is he dead?” she asked calmly.
Her husband scowled down at the body on the floor and looked over at his wife. “Yes, I’d say he’s dead. Very dead.”
In what Agatha Christie book did her Belgian
detective, Hercule Poirot, make his first
Lawrence Savoy clapped his hands to gain everyone’s attention. “Okay, folks, that wasn’t bad. Let’s try it one more time. And Paul, try to avoid Cynthia’s shoe when you land on the floor. Makes it hard for her to fall into her daddy’s arms if her foot is stuck under your head.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Oh my gosh, Murder, She Wrote books are so amazing!!! Keep on writing them, Mr. Bain and Mrs. Fletcher! This book is definitely one of the best books I have ever read. It is so descriptive and well, perfect! It is fun to try and answer the increasingly hard questions at the beginning of each chapter. It is just like one of the t.v. shows-in the murder-mystery play that is going on at the hotel over the weekend, the person killed in the play is the person killed in real life! I am not giving away anymore...you'll just have to read it! this book got me through a seven hour long plane ride-and kept me interested =] ...Thanks for reading my review!
Jessica does it again with a wonderful story that leaves people wondering who donit and how!!
I have read this whole series. Loved this book. One of my favorites so far!