When Our Heroine expresses an interest in writing a book called Murder at the Inn, Harry Pierce (who’ll you’ll remember from such episodes as this one, also he’s John Astin) takes her to a charming country inn on Stone Lake. It would appear that Jess is not overly excited about this.
The inn is run by a lady named Grace, who is completely missing a sense of humour and also played Catwoman in the original Batman movie. Which might explain the sense of humour thing. She’s also having problems with the boatman teaching the female guests how to sing “I’m A Little Tea Pot”
After settling in, Jess goes down to the lobby to meet her
potential victims fellow holidaymakers, including Burton Hollis, who I finally realised was Father Mulcahy in MASH after a bitter argument with my brain who kept trying to tell me it was Radar. My brain is an idiot.
As well as Burton, there’s Carolyn and Howard Crane, who have clearly moved on from their honeymoon phase, Kyle Jordan (whose wife Betty can be seen playing I’m A Little Teapot with Jack-o-boatman), and Joanna the hippy who likes to run naked through the woods. Is it me or has nudity gone up like 500% in this season?
It’s clear after about 30 seconds that Burton wouldn’t mind playing I’m A Little Teapot with Our Heroine, and he invites her to go birdwatching with him tomorrow at dawn. JB swiftly upgrades this to 9am.
Stupidly early the next morning, Burton and JB go in search of
the Norwegian Blue Parrotm birds but so far the closest they’ve come is spotting the hippy on her early morning nude run. Burton decides they need to split up, and sends JB down on the lake path to see if she spot some birds.
Instead, she spots Howard Crane and his wife fighting in a boat. Carolyn goes into the water. JB yells for Burton. There’s been a murder! And when there’s been a murder, there’s only one man to call.
Sheriff Tupper arrives with his posse and his hat and sets to trawling the lake looking for the late Mrs Crane, with no success. Amos is living the high life – there’s been a murder sure, but the eyewitness is unimpeachable, so he can take the rest of the week off and go fishing. Harry Pierce turns up, full of excitement – there’s nothing like a good murder to bring the tourist dollars in. JB is puzzled why Joanna the hippy is so distraught over the death of a woman she didn’t even know. Jordan and Burton both agree that they heard the Cranes fighting in their room the night before, and hearing Carolyn ask Howard for a divorce.
Seems pretty open and shut to Amos, but JB isn’t convinced. There’s something fishy going on at this lake and she’s going to reel it in. (Alas that’s all the bad fish puns I can think of right now). She suggests they go and see if Howard is up to answering a few questions. Amos is delighted – it’s like JB can read his mind.
Howard is in the care of Doc Hazzlit, who informs Amos that if he wants to interrogate the suspect he’s gonna have to do it quick before the sedatives kick in. Howard tells them he didn’t kill his wife – she went nuts and tried to jump overboard, and he tried to stop her but he couldn’t swim but he jumped in anyway and he held on to the boat with one hand and he doesn’t understand it and she’s such a good swimmer and…the sedative kicks in.
Amos doesn’t care. Fastest case closure in Cabot Cove history! Unfortunately for him, Jessica is on team Howard. She’s convinced he didn’t kill his wife, there’s something else going on. She goes to search the boat for clues and finds Jack-o-boatman and Betty Jordan playing “I’m A Little Teapot” in the boathouse. Betty tells her that her husband doesn’t care, Jack tells her that doesn’t mean she needs to tell Jordan, and JB says “Oh I have no intention of telling anyone anything.”
JB finds a hook and a piece of string attached to the bottom of the boat, but no fishing equipment. Jack-o-Boatman has no idea what it’s for. I’ll be honest, I don’t think he knows more that the words to I’m A Little Teapot, to be honest.
Amos and Jess argue over the case a bit more, and Jess has a brainwave. What if Carolyn was trying to fake her own death in order to get a divorce from Howard? The gears grind in Amos’s head as he tries to find fault with the theory but is interrupted by a message on the radio from his deputy. Ain’t no fakin – Carolyn is dead.
Doc Hazlitt takes the body back to the Cove for an autopsy, leaving Jess and Amos to fight it out a bit more. Amos is convinced he’s right, but when JB asks him how the body got to the north shore of the lake with no breeze or current he pouts and tells Our Heroine she’s a sore loser. DAMN HER APPLYING LOGIC TO THIS.
After having a chat to Grace, the manager of the hotel, JB checks out the reservations book and discovers two completely separate guests have the same contact number for their bookings – Howard Crane and Joanne the hippy. What are the odds that Joanne was Howard’s secretary who’d come on the holiday to try to resume their affair?
Quite good, it turns out. Jess pays Joanne a visit and not only does this conversation about nude running happen:
…but Joanne admits that yes, she was Howard’s secretary, they had an affair, he broke it off, she came up to the lake to see if she could get him back but it didn’t work. She also says the lake holiday was Carolyn’s idea.
Out and about later in the day JB runs into Burton again, taking pigeons of doves (and Jack-o-Boatman waiting for another round of “I’m A Little Teapot” with Betty) but before she can do anything with this news Amos carts Howard Crane off to the clink. “He won’t like that,” Burton proclaims. “He can’t stand to be cooped up.”
This is certainly the case on the ride back to Cabot Cove. After he finds out Our Heroine knows about his claustrophobia he goes to town. JB takes his mind off it by asking him who inherits his many millions and he tells her noone: the only relative he had was a cousin and as far as Howard knew he was dead. Amos tells her off for talking to his suspect, so she changes the subject and asks Amos to search the records for the Jack-o-Boatman.
Doc Hazlitt has more bad news for Amos – Carolyn Crane had mud in her lungs, a knock on the head and was wearing a bathing suit under her clothes. Amos completely loses his mind, but somewhere in all the ranting and rambling Jess has an epiphany. She was right all along. There’s no time to gloat though – one of Amos’s minions has just delivered the results of the search on Jack-the-Boatman and it turns out he’s been a very busy boy blackmailing women he’s slept with.
Not so busy, it turns out. While he admits to the blackmail, (after Jordan tries to shoot him) and Grace the manager admits he’s her brother, Jack-o-Boatman claims not to have killed Carolyn Crane. And lucky for him Jess agrees. Carolyn Crane was a lady with a plan. She had scuba gear under the boat to aid her in her escape from Howard and into the waiting arms of her new boyfriend.
On a COMPLETELY COINCIDENTAL NOTE, it turns out Howard Crane’s cousin isn’t dead, he’s just dead boring…
I could explain motives and things at this point, but really I think you and I both know there’s nowhere to go after that, so here’s this week’s out of context freeze frame.