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Murder, She Wrote: Domestic Malice Hardcover – October 2, 2012


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New Adult Fiction by Rainbow Rowell
Acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell's latest book, Landline, offers a poignant, humorous look at relationships and marriage. Learn more

Product Details

  • Series: Murder She Wrote (Book 38)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Hardcover; 1 Reprint edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451238036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451238030
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #512,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jessica Fletcher is a bestselling mystery writer who has a knack for stumbling upon real-life mysteries in her various travels.

Donald Bain, her longtime collaborator, is the writer of more than one hundred other books, many of them bestsellers.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

“The only thing that this so-called women’s shelter does is to foster disharmony in otherwise harmonious households here in Cabot Cove. For the Cabot Cove town government to be providing financial support to it is a travesty, a prime example of the misuse of taxpayer funds.”

The speaker was Richard Mauser, owner of a metal-fabricating factory in an industrial park alongside the Cabot Cove River, and an elected member of the town council. Mauser, age sixty, was a bombastic naysayer whose fiery speeches during council meetings were often the butt of jokes for those in attendance, but this didn’t deter him from offering his opinion on anything and everything. He was a large man with a shock of copper-colored hair fringed with gray, and whose suits—he always wore a suit and tie to meetings—tended to be a size too small for his bulky frame. His white dress shirts pressed into the folds of his neck, and his face reddened whenever he took the floor and railed against whatever was being considered, shouting down those who disagreed with his positions and disparaging anyone who dared challenge him.

This night was no different.

I’d had a previous engagement and hadn’t planned on attending the meeting, but when I heard that renewing funding for the women’s shelter would be on the agenda, I canceled my plans. Now I sat in the front row along with Edwina Wilkerson, a former social worker at the hospital and a friend of many years, who’d spearheaded the establishment of the shelter two years earlier. Edwina was one of those women who seemed to be in perpetual motion, and her wiry frame attested to her active life. She was coiled like a snake as Mauser spoke; I was ready to grab her should she leap up and attack the man.

“We’ve been sold a bill of goods,” Mauser shouted, “told by the usual do-gooders in town that we even need a shelter for”—he paused and smirked—“for the fair sex. Well, let me tell you the facts. Let me differentiate between reality and fancy. The only thing the women’s shelter accomplishes is to give women an excuse for leaving their hardworking husbands and adding to the divorce statistics. You want to talk about family values? I’ll tell you about family values, and this shelter isn’t it. Now, frankly, I don’t give a damn whether these do-gooders want to run a shelter and pay for it out of their own pockets or collect donations from anyone they can hoodwink, but Cabot Cove has no business allocating funds to help sustain this travesty of morality.” He glared at our mayor, Jim Shevlin, who sat with a small smile on his lips. Jim had had to put up with Mauser’s mad rants for the years that he’d been mayor, and I admired him for his calm patience.

Mauser ran out of steam and sat heavily in his chair.

“That man is a heart attack waiting to happen,” Dr. Seth Hazlitt, who sat on the other side of me, muttered.

“The man is despicable” was Edwina’s whispered editorial comment in my ear.

“We’ve heard from Mr. Mauser,” Mayor Shevlin said. “Let’s open the discussion and hear other viewpoints.”

Edwina quickly got to her feet. “First of all,” she said, “I deeply resent the way Dick Mauser has characterized me and others associated with the shelter as do-gooders who are out to hoodwink donors. The fact is that the shelter provides a much-needed haven for women and their children who have been subjected to domestic abuse. Whatever funds the town contributes to the shelter each year help save lives, something that can’t be said for Mr. Mauser’s plant, which pollutes our river and threatens lives.”

Mauser stood and shook a finger at Edwina as he boomed, “I won’t allow this meeting to turn into a forum for the dissemination of lies and character slurs.”

“Sit down, Dick,” Mayor Shevlin said. “You’ve had your say. Now it’s Ms. Wilkerson’s turn to have hers. Ms. Wilkerson, please confine your comments to the subject at hand.”

Edwina gave an impassioned defense of the shelter and the need for it. When she was finished, the mayor asked whether anyone else wished to address the subject. I was about to stand, but Seth Hazlitt was on his feet and facing the forty or so people who’d attended the hearing. The room was silent as one of our town’s leading citizens took the floor.

“First of all,” he said, “I’ve been one of those people who, some say, have been ‘hoodwinked’ into donating money to the shelter—and I’ve done so with pride, and intend to donate more. Now, I know where people who oppose the shelter are coming from. There are folks, and well-meanin’ ones, I might add, who view having a women’s shelter as sayin’ something negative about the town they’ve grown up in. But let’s face the facts. Cabot Cove is no longer a sleepy little town bypassed by the problems larger cities have. Sure, we’re still blessed compared to lots of other places. Our problems are relatively minimal. But that doesn’t mean we can sweep ’em under the rug. And unfortunately domestic abuse is one of these problems. I’m not sayin’ it’s an epidemic, but it exists, and anyone who denies it has blinders on. Mayor Shevlin and the council are doin’ the right thing by supporting the shelter despite Mr. Mauser’s protests.”

There was a smattering of applause as Seth sat. I patted his arm. Although doctor-patient confidentiality prohibited Seth from naming names, he had confided in me that a few of his patients were women who’d been abused, and said that he’d even treated a man whose wife had the habit of striking out at him physically, causing bruises as well as humiliation. Seth said the man was grappling with intense shame at having been hit by a woman, even though he hadn’t provoked her attacks, nor had he responded in kind.

The mayor called for a vote on whether to provide funding for the shelter for the upcoming year. The measure passed with Richard Mauser the lone “nay” on the council. He grabbed the briefcase that sat next to him and stormed from the room, muttering under his breath.

“That man!” Edwina exclaimed.

“Just your typical, run-of-the-mill blowhard” was Seth’s evaluation. “Coffee, anyone?”

The three of us went to Mara’s, on the dock, where Edwina and I asked for decaf lattes, a new offering by the town’s favorite eating establishment. Seth specified a cup of regular coffee—“I never did understand this latte business,” he said—and added a slice of lemon meringue pie to his order.

“Well,” I said to Edwina, raising my cup to her, “we have something to celebrate: another year of funding for the shelter.”

“No thanks to our favorite council member,” she said.

“Forget him,” said Seth. “Likes to hear himself talk.”

“He’s so self-righteous.”

“The pie is delicious,” Seth said. “Anyone like a taste?”

We declined.

I deliberately shifted the topic of conversation from the shelter to less contentious subjects, and Edwina calmed down. As we stepped out into the cold, humid March night air, she thanked Seth and me for our support. “I’ll see you tomorrow night?” she asked me.

“I’ll be there,” I said. As a member of the shelter’s board, I’d volunteered to be on hand one evening a week in case anyone walked in seeking services.

Later that night, as the final scenes of the original black-and-white version of Brief Encounter—the Technicolor remake for television starring Sophia Loren and Richard Burton was, in my humble opinion, dreadful—faded out and THE END came up on the screen, I reflected on the events of that evening and my involvement in them.

The Cabot Cove women’s shelter had been founded two years earlier. While Edwina was the public face of the committee formed to establish the refuge for abused women, it had been Seth Hazlitt’s brainchild. The genesis of the idea had surfaced at a dinner party at my house attended by Seth; Edwina; our sheriff, Mort Metzger; his wife, Maureen; and a few other friends. Seth had cited statistics he’d recently read—twenty-five million American women are the victims of domestic violence each year, resulting in more than two thousand homicides. Mort reminded us of a murder that had taken place only one year earlier in the next town down the coast: A drunken husband had killed his wife in the midst of a violent argument.

“I heard that their cops knew something was going on,” Mort said.

“Well, couldn’t they do anything?” his wife asked.

“They answered a couple of calls, but the wife, she always refused to press charges. Their hands were tied.”

“How awful,” Maureen said.

“The point is,” said Seth, “Cabot Cove isn’t immune from domestic violence. Seems to me that it might be time for setting up a place here where women can come if they need to escape trouble at home.”

“Unfortunately, I know someone who would benefit from such a place,” Edwina said. “Her husband treats her like chattel. He’s always putting her down in front of others, and I’m certain that he’s hurt her more than once when she stood up for herself. I won’t mention any names, but some of you certainly know her. Of course, she’s too proud or ashamed or scared to allow the truth to come out, stays at home so her friends won’t see the marks he left on her.”

The topic had been bounced around ...


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cat288 on October 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I normally pick up a new book in the Murder She Wrote Series and keep reading until I reach the end. I kept putting this one down and had little interest in picking it up. I am not certain I can say why this book didn't work at all for me. It felt disjointed. I won't try to give any details about the plot because it didn't hold my interest enough. I am certain someone else will outline the story in their review. Maybe the topic, maybe the approach to the story. Something just didn't work. I was disappointed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By snowy on November 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It could have been possible to use the detective novel as a vehicle to promote awareness of domestic abuse and the help available, but the writer did not do a good job meshing the two themes together.

I was rather irked that the normally competent sheriff did not think of conducting gunshot residue tests on the "persons of interest" - that oversight is fatal for the novel to make it as a good detective story. Either the writer forgot or had to omit it as he could not think of how that would prevent the case from being solved too quickly.

As a vehicle for promoting awareness of domestic abuse, the book confined itself largely to repeating usual materials from publicity brochures or websites. What is starkly missing is the personalisation of the abuse itself - which is hard to do when the victim and the victim's families were severely limited in telling their stories.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl A. Marhefka on November 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I usually love the MSW books,but I just could not get into this one. Nothing to do with the subject,just found it somewhat boring and repeticious. I got about 1/3rd of the way through it,finally gave up,skipped to the end to see who killed the dirtbag (not a surprise to me),amd went on to my next book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Florida Shopper on October 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I Like MSW books for their cozy mystery appeal. It is what made the show so great! When you make it too dark it does not make you want to be in cabot cove (the fictional town). BRING BACK THE COZY CABOT COVE STORIES.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Valentina Gioppo on September 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was at first reticent to buy this, even though I have read and own all the previous books in the series. I read many reviews saying that the issue of domestic violence was dominating the story. I have just finished the book and I can say that personally I think this is one of the best mystery in the series! The characters, story, plot, narrative, etc were all very well executed. I did not feel lectured on the issue of domestic violence at all and did not find it overbearing.

If you liked the previous books in the series, you will certainly like this one! Do not miss out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JennyeK on November 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I gave this a 3 because it didn't "feel" like a Murder, She Wrote work. It was too dark and I prefer Jessica with a little tongue in cheek humor. I know that this is a very important subject, but I would rather read my regular Murder, She Wrote type of story. I use these books for an escape, and this one just kept me in the "real" world.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Mikula on October 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Loved the book. I especially like the ones set in Cabot Cove. I am a fan of all Murder She Wrote, both the books and the TV Series. I have them all. Can't wait for the next book to come out.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nancy R. Hickman on October 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jessica and Donald have taken on a different type of plot. This book contains a lot of information about the issue of domestic abuse, it's effect on an entire family and community. It's a bit longer than usual, brings Jessica and Sheriff Mort at odds and introduces the effect of abuse on the Cabot Cove community. The outcome is sad but all too real.
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