Review

Dying to Be Murdered

by Judy Fitzwater



I have a theory. I think that most mystery readers over the age of
35 cut their teeth on the genre with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew
mystery novels. I'm not talking about the softcover books that have
been published within the past 15 years or so. I'm talking about
the originals. I'm talking THE TOWER TREASURE and THE VIKING SYMBOL
MYSTERY and THE GHOST AT SKELETON ROCK and THE WITCH TREE SYMBOL.
These books were great. Yes, they followed a formula, with Frank
and Joe Hardy and their chums, or Nancy and her two best friends
(one of whom, I recall, was a "tomboy" named George) getting
involved in an investigation that was none of their business and
nosing around until they solved the crime well before their hapless
town constable could. I have a set of original Hardy Boys novels
that will probably be buried with me. I imagine that there are some
ladies who feel the same about their Nancy Drew mysteries.

I happened to come across a mystery series that reminded me of
these books. The series kind of put me in the mind of encountering
a childhood friend after many years, different but somehow
familiar, all grown up and looking good. DYING TO BE MURDERED is, I
believe, Judy Fitzwater's fifth Jennifer Marsh mystery. All of the
titles incorporate the "Dying" theme, with Ms. Marsh and her
friends in her writing group, attempting, with varying degrees of
success, to make the leap from being a writer to being an author.
They also, along the way, interject themselves into some fairly
grisly murder mysteries, with Marsh usually walking point on these
excursions. If you haven't read one of these, DYING TO BE MURDERED
would be an excellent place to start.

DYING TO BE MURDERED opens with Marsh being offered 1,000 dollars
to spend a week with Mary Bedford Ashton, a society matron who is
in expectation of her own imminent death. Ashton wants Marsh to
record, in detail, everything that happens during the week in the
hope that such a recording will prove her death to be murder. The
first day of Marsh's stay is hardly completed, however, before
Ashton mysteriously disappears into the night, leaving only
bloodcurdling screams and a bloodstained bed. Eileen McEvoy,
Ashton's sister-in-law, has motive; there was bad feeling between
the two women, and interestingly but inexplicably, McEvoy is the
only heir named in Ashton's will. There are many questions,
however. How did McEvoy gain entry to the locked mansion? Where is
the body? And how does the suicide of Ashton's stepdaughter, almost
30 years before, figure into the current mysterious
occurrences?

DYING TO BE MURDERED is a pleasure, guilty or not. You don't need
to read the earlier books in the series to enjoy this one, but it
would be a shame not to. If you've missed your Nancy Drew books,
this is the next best thing --- in an adult package and looking
very, very good.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

Dying to Be Murdered
by Judy Fitzwater

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett
  • ISBN-10: 0449006409
  • ISBN-13: 9780449006405