Monday, April 30, 2018

I'm happy to be joining #BerkleyMystery in celebrating the May 1 release of 
MURDER SHE WROTE
A DATE WITH MURDER
Book 47 in the Murder She Wrote Mysteries
by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain & Jon Land

Jessica Fletcher investigates a friend's murder and a dangerous dating service in the latest entry in this USA Today bestselling series...

Jessica Fletcher takes up the case of her good friend Barbara "Babs" Wirth after Babs' husband Hal suffers a fatal heart attack that Jessica has reason to believe was actually murder. At the heart of her suspicions lies a sinister dating site Hal had used while he and Babs were having marital issues, a site that may be complicit in somehow swindling him out of millions.
 
Jessica's investigation reveals that Hal was far from the only victim and when his former business partner is also killed, a deadly pattern emerges. Jessica teams up with a brilliant young computer hacker to follow the trail but as she gets closer to the truth, two near misses force her to realize that she may very well be the next victim. 

The stakes have never been this high as Jessica finds herself being stalked by the killer she is trying to catch. She must now set the perfect trap to avoid her very own date with murder.


TOP TEN TELEVISION CRIME/MYSTERY SHOWS
by Jon Land

To celebrate the publication of A DATE WITH MURDER, my first effort writing as Jessica Fletcher in the MURDER, SHE WROTE series, I thought I’d put together my Top Ten list of the most influential crime/mystery shows in television history.

THE  UNTOUCHABLES: Fans will remember Robert Stack’s brilliant turn as Elliot Ness, the Walter Winchell narration, and that great Nelson Riddle instrumental theme song. What gets forgotten is that this was the show that defined cops and robbers tales for years to come. Often imitated, but never equaled, Ness and company’s battle with underworld Chicago in the days of Al Capone and Frank Nitty played out week after week in hardboiled and violent fashion.

HILL STREET BLUES: One of the shows that changed television forever, upping the ante across the board as far as writing, plotting and characterization. The late Steven Bochco’s ensemble cast battle bad guys, their worst tendencies, and each other while going about their daily jobs fighting crime. Many of the great crime shows that dominate the cable airwaves owe a huge debt to Blues, which more than any other show at the time brought moral ambiguity to the small screen.

COLUMBO:  What can I say about the rumpled detective famously played by Peter Falk that basically redefined the television mystery? It wasn’t a whodunit so much as how’s-he-solve-it, and Columbo never disappointed. The series invited the audience to play along, searching for the elusive prime clue to be revealed only in the final moment. Episodes ran in various forms for an astounding 30+ years. In not a single one did Columbo ever draw his gun or lose his zeal. Still one of the smartest and best-written shows in television history.

MURDER, SHE WROTE:  Okay, I’m a little prejudiced but this fabulously successful television show starring Angela Lansbury in the title role ran for a dozen years, all but one of them among the top ten rated shows, spawned four TV movies, and is still enjoying a successful run in syndication on Hallmark Mysteries. The notion of an amateur sleuth spawned a slew of imitators that never achieved this level of success or resonated as much or as long in pop culture. It’s safe to say that Jessica Fletcher is America’s premier sleuth with a near 100% name recognition value.

THE ROCKFORD FILES:  The clever answering machine staple opening alerted us from the start of every episode that we were in for a detective tale of fresh ilk. Its light tone, crack ensemble, recurring cast and James Garner’s star turn in the lead role made it must-see TV before anyone had officially coined the term. Garner’s deadpan delivery defined a show that took itself just seriously enough. I can’t remember a single plot-line; all I remember is how much I loved the show.

LAW AND ORDER:  Take your pick as to which one. SVU is still on the air and the original faded out only after a 20+ year run. The series breathed new life into a then moribund TV genre by reinventing the form and managing to survive a slew of cast changes. Such changes had doomed the likes of Route 66, but creator Dick Wolf’s genre-bending format rendered cast members basically interchangeable. Every week, Law and Order did and does deliver on its promise, touching on front-page topics in never letting us down.

CSI: Again, take your pick, but for me the early years of CSI: Las Vegas, starring the great William Petersen similarly helped redefine the television crime genre. Entire episodes would go by without a single gunfight, the action that demanded and commanded our attention limited at times to the claustrophobic confines of police labs where the contents of microscope slides spurred the biggest reveals. Each episode is basically a puzzle waiting to be assembled. We often know, at least suspect, who the killer is, the fun lying in the process used to catch him. Consider CSI the anti-Columbo. The rumbled detective wouldn’t even know how to spell electron spectrograph, while Petersen’s Gil Grissom couldn’t solve a case without one.

NYPD BLUE: Tame by comparison with today’s cable fare, this second Steve Bochco creation nonetheless raised eyebrows everywhere in terms of content ranging from language to sexually-charged subject matter. Yes, it’s known primarily for its salaciousness and being way ahead of its time, but it was also an outstanding police procedural that weathered numerous cast changes in dominating talk around the water cooler for years. Gritty, grungy and morally ambiguous, this is television, and crime drama, at its level best.

PERRY MASON:  Enjoy legal thrillers? They owe their existence to this splendid series of eighty books penned by Earl Stanley Gardner and a television show by the same name starring Raymond Burr in the title role that ran for a decade. The episodes, and the books, continue to hold up and the notion of a sleuthing lawyer and his entourage spawned the likes of John Grisham and Scott Turow, not to mention the slew of lawyer shows that have long been a television programming staple.

MIAMI VICE: One of the true game changers in the history of the airwaves that everyone rushed home to watch when it aired on Friday nights. The show brought both pop music and men’s fashion into the mainstream with musicians and designers alike battling for inclusion from the moment Phil Collins’ “Into the Air Tonight” themed the climactic shootout in the premier. Brandon Tartikoff legendarily based the series on the phrase “MTV cops” he once jotted down on a notepad. True or not, the show brought television into the forefront of pop culture, setting the stage for when the small screen would actually come to define it.

I’m already starting to think of some of the shows I left off this list. How about you? Which would you add?

Since his first book was published in 1983, Jon Land has written twenty-eight novels, seventeen of which have appeared on national bestseller lists. He began writing technothrillers before Tom Clancy put them in vogue, and his strong prose, easy characterization, and commitment to technical accuracy have made him a pillar of the genre.

Land spent his college years at Brown University, where he convinced the faculty to let him attempt writing a thriller as his senior honors thesis. Four years later, his first novel, The Doomsday Spiral, appeared in print. In the last years of the Cold War, he found a place writing chilling portrayals of threats to the United States, and of the men and women who operated undercover and outside the law to maintain U.S. security. His most successful of those novels were the nine starring Blaine McCracken, a rogue CIA agent and former Green Beret with the skills of James Bond but none of the Englishman’s tact.

Land currently lives in Providence, not far from his alma mater.


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5 comments:

  1. Thanks, Lisa, and happy Monday!

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  2. I can remember fondly The Mod Squad as well. We still watch Perry Mason. :) And he went on to also do Ironsides too.

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  3. Thanks for this fun and interesting post. I look forward to reading Murder, She Wrote A Date with Murder. Have a great Monday!

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  4. Great Post and unless I could add some English Mysteries you got my favorites. I still watch Perry Mason...

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  5. Of all of the shows mentioned, I loved Murder, She Wrote the best. I still watch the show when doing the treadmill. I'm on the 12th and last season. It had a great run!! Love Angela Lansbury.

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