After last weeks depressing episode I’m quite keen for something a little more upbeat, how about you Fletcherfans? How does JESSICA FLETCHER AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM sound? If you answered “Unlikely” then you’re mostly right and clearly have a firmer grip on reality than I do.
Our Heroine is New Mexico, volunteering on an archaeological dig with her purely platonic friend Doc Hazzlitt (seriously, does anyone actually believe that?) being overseen by Gideon Armstrong, or as he’s better known, this guy:
Jess is there to help out, and to research a book. Although I think she may be having second thoughts…
Seth and JB aren’t the only schmucks out digging up bones in the desert. There’s Karen Parkes and Steve Gamble, two postgrad interns looking for extra credit (we’ve all been there, amirite?), their supervisor Doctor Steve Garfield who thinks they’re digging for a lost city of gold, fame-seeker Doctor Aubrey Benton who thinks he can make the most money if they find the lost city of gold, Raymond Twocrows, the expert on Native American
stereotypes tribes, and Gideon’s newest model wife Cynthia.
Later that night when they are all sitting around eating dinner they are rudely interrupted by a Native American standing on the hill above them, dancing and chanting. Karen informs JB that he appears at the same time every night, trying to scare them away from the dig, but by the time the guards get up to him he is gone. Forget Indiana Jones, this episode is a Great Dane away from becoming an episode of Scooby Doo.
The next morning Seth decides to get the jump on JB (heh heh) and does a little detecting of his own by asking Raymond what Anasasi means and where he was when the Ghostly Spectre of Doom. Raymond responds with “The Great Builders” and with skulking off, which are both incorrect answers. JB has no time to scold Seth for stepping on her sleuthing territory, she’s just uncovered a – thing. Honestly, I’m not sure what it is, lets call it the Panflute of Destiny, based on the music when she finds it. Oh, it’s not a pan flute, its a prayer stick. Anyway, Doctor Garfield and Doctor Benton are beside themselves, Gideon is more concerned with how much he can make from it.
It’s a very subdued dinner that evening, despite JB showing everyone how to find things in the ground like a boss. The Ghostly Spectre of Doom appears right on time for his nightly performance, which a drunk Cynthia Armstrong takes exception to, and so decides to bring the curtains down on the whole thing by shooting at him. Much to everyone’s surprise, she actually hits and he falls out of view. They run to the scene and find the body of Raymond Twocrows. Awkward. Seth helpfully points out that Raymond wasn’t shot, but presumably died after falling from the top of the hill.
Gideon calls an emergency dig meeting, to try and put aside any vicious nasty rumours about his wife killing Raymond accidentally or otherwise. To get them on-side he offers them all a share in any profits made from the treasure they dig up. SMOOTH MOVE GIDEON! When Doctor Benton goes to radio for the police, however, Gideon gently removes the plug. He doesn’t want reporters crawling over the site until they have something to show them that isn’t a corpse.
The following morning JB and Seth team up for a little
sededuction which I will reenact with some helpful screenshots:
After that little reenactment (that amused me way more than it ought to), JB sends Seth off to look at the body again, since clearly he didn’t die from falling three feet, while Our Heroine has breakfast with Doctor Benton to suss out some information on Raymond. She has little luck – it turns out Gideon hired him, not Benton, who has an indecent proposal of his own – he would like JB to ghost write his memoirs.
JB runs into Seth back at the dig, and he has news: Raymond didn’t die from falling , he died from drowning. Which, in a desert, makes him either very unlucky or an extra in an episode of CSI I remember.
Jess reacts well to this news:
Jess bets Seth that the police haven’t been called, and decide to drive into town themselves but are thwarted by Armstrong’s minions who tell them that Armstrong has ordered that no one is to leave the site. When they go to confront him about it he brushes them off, but is surprised to hear that Raymond drowned and that the fall was staged. He tells them he was with Doctor Benton at the time, but is interrupted by Doctor Garfield rushing in to announce they’ve found more gold.
JB has a quiet word with Doctor Benton and he finally admits that he wasn’t with Armstrong. A search of Raymond’s belongings reveals books on Native Americans borrowed by Raymond DeMarco – “One of those Indians from Naples!’ says Seth – from the same university where Karen and Steve study and Doctor Garfield teaches. They also find Raymond’s boots covered in mud, giving Jess an idea. She hightails it out of the tent, followed by a very confused Seth, and heads out into the desert. While Seth pontificates on the existence of tumbleweeds, JB disappears. Seth finds a cave entrance and goes in, hesitantly calling Jess’s name. Suddenly he hears Native American chanting.
So…the Ghostly Spectre of Doom was really a tape player, eh? Not only have they found where Raymond was murdered, but they also find crates of Native American artefacts from the university. Say what? Don’t panic, Our Heroine is starting to figure it out…
Back at camp JB overhears Karen and Steve fighting. It turns out Karen was trying to get away from Armstrong at the same time his wife was taking potshots at the “ghost”. JB goes to see Armstrong and brings him to the dig site to prove her point. He’s been “flim-flammed”. (Life Lesson #41 – People aren’t conned, they’re flim-flammed). The artefacts were put there to be found, to jack up the price of the land that Armstrong was hoping to buy before anyone else could find out what he’d found.
But by who?
Turns out Cynthia killed Raymond after he threatened to expose her little plan to bleed her husband dry. Fortunately for her she had Doctor Garfield to help her drag the body up the cliff, dress up as the Ghoulish Ghost of Doom and then throw Raymond off the cliff. And they would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for them meddling kids.
And by meddling kids…