JB is on the road again, this time to Oklahoma where she’s catching up with her old English teacher Carrie McKitterick. Unfortunately, all catching up is somewhat curtailed by a Wagner blaring car-horn, signalling the arrival of Carrie’s step-son Harvey and her step- grandson Sam.
(Seriously though. I think I need a car horn that blares out Ride of the Valkyries. I’d get to work in ten minutes with that).
Harvey and Sam are less than pleased with Carrie. It turns out she’s changed her will to leave her millions to televangelist Reverend Willie John Fargo.
Carrie throws them out of the house, but has a heart attack in the process. She’s admitted to hospital, and as she recovers in the ward makes JB swear that if anything should happen, to make sure they don’t change her will. Because that’s not tempting fate at all.
Carrie soon has a visit from Willie John, who says he’d been “labouring in the Lord’s vineyard” when he’d heard Carrie had been taken ill, and that he was needed immediately.
JB leaves Willie John and Carrie to pray
for more wine and steps out. She runs into Willie John’s wife Sister Ruth (previously known as the charity worker who’s name I’ve forgotten in this episode), and shortly after by Harvey and Sam who (despite causing Carrie to be in the hospital) are hell bent on taking her home again. JB scolds them and they promise to get the DA to file charges of embezzlement against Willie John for convincing their (grand)mother to leave her millions to him.
After the hullabaloo, Carrie asks Our Heroine to call her granddaughter-in-law Alice to come and visit. The Doctor suggests Carrie could use some rest so JB steps out to use the payphone. As the phone rings out, she notices Nurse Sue Beth (who’s real name is Barbi I swear I’m not making this up) come out of Carrie’s room and go down stairs.
Time passes. Then so does Carrie, sadly. As the doctors try and revive her JB asks Sam what happened but he doesn’t know and quickly takes off. JB notices a syringe on the floor and carefully picks it up with her handkerchief before she is thrown out of the room. She takes a whiff – cyanide.
Cue dramatic pause.
After the adbreak Alice arrives at the hospital along with DA Fred Whittaker. Harvey tells him to investigate Willie John immediately but Fred is hesitant. JB informs them that she believes Carrie was poisoned by cyanide and is backed up by her Doctor. Fred promises to speak to both Sam and Willie John.
Back at Carrie’s, Alice and JB find Sam brandishing a new copy of Carrie’s will that leaves everything to her family. JB is suspicious, especially as the signature on the letter from Carrie she just so happens to be carrying around in her handbag doesn’t match the signature on this mysterious new will.
SCREW THAT I WANT TO HEAR MORE ABOUT THE LORD’S VINEYARD. Is it Oyster Bay? I bet it’s Oyster Bay, their sav blanc is hand pressed by angels. (Probably not true).
Anyway, Fred and JB go to confront Sam and he admits to typing the will and signing it with his grandmother’s hand (creepy!?). JB gently encourages Fred to lay murder charges against Sam but Harvey won’t hear of it and tells Fred that he’ll see to it that Fred won’t even be dogcatcher next spring.
Down at the hospital JB is hot on the case of the Mysterious Syringe and where Nurse Sue Beth went when she left Carrie’s hospital room. It turns out the stairs lead down to the carpark, opposite the Church of the Electric Cathedral TV studio, so JB goes to
look for the Lord’s Vineyard check it out. She runs into Willie John and tells him that she was just making sure that her friend wasn’t being taken advantage of. This sends Willie John into a preaching fit, and he tells her about all the good work the Church is doing.
Willie John wanders off to do a bit more preaching and leaves Jess to have a tour of the studio with his wife Sister Ruth which concludes with their private apartment. Jess comments on how spectacular it is.
Over tea and scones it turns out that Sister Ruth helps out on the Indian Reservation on Wednesdays (she used to be a nurse), Willie John just so happens to be diabetic, and he’s not telling JB where the Lord’s Vineyard is. Or where he was the night Carrie died.
JB goes to see Fred and tell him what she found out, but he ain’t buying. For one thing, JB seems to have more questions than answers, like why was Carrie killed with an insulin needle full of cyanide when insulin would have done the trick?
Fred: Are you a doctor or something?
JB: Writing murder mysteries almost qualifies me, believe me. (Life Lesson #43)
JB answers her own question – if insulin was used it wouldn’t have been detected and they would never have known there was a murder. Someone wanted the murder to be discovered!
The results of the fingerprint test on the syringe arrive while everyone’s at Carrie’s wake. The fingerprints belong to Willie John…
…but he’s not the killer. Apparently while the killer was killing he was in the chapel ‘ministering the needs’ of Nurse Sue Beth.
But wait. If Willie John didn’t do it….who did? Fortunately the answer is as obvious as a smack in the head to Our Heroine.
Are you ready?
This time, money had nothing to do with it. Sister Ruth wanted out of the Willie John train, but it’s not so easy divorcing a Reverend. Much easier to have him locked up for murder.
Unfortunately, the Mystery of the Holy Vineyard will never be solved. And on that sad note…
PS – Tomorrow afternoon I’m going to see a little play called Driving Miss Daisy starring two up and coming actors named James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury. AIN’T NO THANG. (Seriously though, dying).