Saturday, November 29, 2014


 By Jessica Fletcher
 (A Fatal Feast is number 32 in the "Murder, She Wrote" series.)
Thanksgiving may be over, but you can revisit our favorite holiday anytime you like on the pages of A Fatal Feast. Here is a short excerpt in which I am hosting Thanksgiving dinner. I've invited a special guest, but not everyone is happy about it.

I walked into the dining room and announced, “We have another guest.”

Conversation stopped and everyone looked at me, and then beyond to Hubert Billups, who stood in the archway between the living and dining rooms.

“Mr. Billups—I’m sure he doesn’t mind being called Hubert—is a little late but that’s certainly no problem.”
Billups remained motionless, a blank expression in his eyes. He’d obviously washed up, and had trimmed his red beard a little. I was pleased that he’d shucked his usual uniform and wore for this day a yellowed, slightly stained, double-breasted white dinner jacket, gray shirt, skinny black tie, tan cargo pants, and low black sneakers, a proud man who’d tried to dress for the occasion.
I grabbed his place card from a small basket on the breakfront, set it down at one of the two unoccupied spots at the table, and said, “Please sit down, Mr. Billups. I’m sure no one will mind waiting until you’ve had your clam chowder and salad.”
Seth had a wry smile on his face as he said, “Welcome, Mr. Billups, and happy Thanksgiving.”
Across from him, Mort was in shock, his face a wrinkled question mark as he looked at me, then back at Billups who’d taken his seat.

Susan Shevlin ladled chowder into the new arrival’s soup bowl and placed a salad next to it.
“Jessica, can we talk?” Wilimena whispered in my ear.
We went to the kitchen.
“Jessica, what have you done?” she asked in a low, panicked voice.
“Inviting him? He’s new in town and alone. Besides, I have my reasons for wanting to get to know him better.”
Wilimena sighed deeply and crossed her arms in front of her. “This is terrible,” she said.
Her comment surprised me, and I asked why Billups’s arrival had upset her so.
She replied with great gravity, “It makes thirteen, Jessica.”
“Thirteen what?”
“Thirteen people at the table.”
I couldn’t contain the laugh that erupted. “Are you really that superstitious, Willie?”
“Oh, you can laugh all you want, Jessica Fletcher, but having thirteen at the table can only result in tragedy.”
“Well,” I said, “we’ll just have to weather that storm. Why don’t you go back and join the others. I’m sure everything will be fine.”
Her face was set in a concerned scowl as she grabbed her cane from where she’d hung it on the counter, and squeezed past Mort who was coming in the kitchen.
“Are you having some kind ‘a breakdown, Mrs. F?” he asked.
“Of course not,” I said.
“What’s he doing here?”
It would have been easy to pretend that I didn’t know which “he” Mort referred to, but I simply said, “Enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with us.”
“I don’t know, Mrs. F. Don’t you think it’s taking a chance, inviting a guy like that into your home? He…he…could be a killer for all we know. I still don’t have a lot of information on the guy and I’ve been asking around for weeks.”
“He’s alone on a holiday and I’m offering him dinner and a bit of kindness. What kind of chance am I taking? I’ve got the sheriff on one side of the table and a Scotland Yard inspector on the other. If I’m not safe with the men in this house, I never will be.”
Mort shook his head. “You’re always full of surprises,” he said, and departed the kitchen. I followed him and saw that Billups had finished his chowder and salad, and was listening to something Jim Shevlin was saying.
“Everyone ready for Tom Turkey?” I asked brightly.
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with those you love. 
Lots of people are superstitious about the number 13. Are you one of them?

This year is the Silver Anniversary of “Murder, She Wrote” in print. There are 42 books in the series so far; the 43rd will be out next Spring. Plus, we have a new contract for three more mysteries for your entertainment. Wishing everyone a happy healthy holiday season. Don’t forget to come back in December for Killer Characters’ “Season’s Readings” spectacular with a book or gift giveaway every day of the month.


  1. I consider myself some what superstitious and probably avoid the # 13 if possible. But I can't say that I've had bad luck when I've encountered the # 13. If things are going to happen, they'll happen regardless of if the # 13 is involved or not. I've always enjoyed the Murder She Wrote Series, including the TV series featuring Angela Landsbury

    1. Thanks Dianne. We're not afraid of the number 13. In fact, some of our favorite people were born on the 13th of the month (even on a Friday). Thanks for stopping by.

  2. And then there's this saying, "The more the merrier." That may not always be true, either, but I like aiming for merriment.

  3. Congratulations on your amazing success with the "Murder, She Wrote" series. Long live Jessica Fletcher!

  4. Thanks, Sheila! We'll raise a glass tonight to Jessica Fletcher and all the folks in Cabot Cove. We're writing about them again.

  5. I love the series and can't wait to dig into KILLER IN THE KITCHEN. I read A FATAL FEAST last Fall and loved it. Your series is so reminiscent of the television series. When I talk about the series with other readers; I always tell them I can hear the actors voices when I read the character dialogue. They are so wonderfully written, thank you both for the series. Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Thanks for your kind words, Margaret. Killer in the Kitchen will be out next April. We hope you enjoy it, too.

  7. I am so glad the Murder She Wrote Books retains the original flavor and characters. Congratulations on your Anniversary. I was a big fan of the TV Series and I am just starting to read the Books.

  8. I'm not superstitious - touch wood!!