It is a dark and stormy night in Cabot Cove Fletcherfans, and Seth is out on a house-call to see Agnes Finney. When no one answers the door, however, Seth is set to pack it in for the night when he hears a voice across the yard. He turns and sees a girl dressed as a pilgrim kneeling at a stump (which is apparently called a witches stump) muttering a spell to curse her enemies. Seth attempts to sneak up on the girl but a careless branch snap gives him away and the girl runs off into the night, leaving behind a pentagram and some herbs in a jar.
Naturally there is only one person who can make sense of such events.
JB’s friend Harriet knows exactly what’s going on – it’s the ghost of Patience Tarhune, and goes off to inform the garden club immediately. It turns out that the day after tomorrow marks 300 years since Patience was executed for being a witch, and apparently the ghost of Patience has been seen out and about for weeks. Seth wants to argue the point but realises that would delay his dinner, and so shuts up.
The next day Jess comes across Sheriff Metzger, in a crochetty mood. The press have caught wind of Patience Tarhune and are looking for information. He shows Jess what he collected from the witches stump but Jess cannot detect any clues. She continues on to the Cabot Cove library to return some books and runs into librarian Mildred Tarhune, convenient descendant of Patience Tarhune. She’s been fielding calls all morning from people concerned her dead relative was staging a comeback. She tells Jess her fiance Adam has had enough, and thinks that they should go away travelling after the wedding, thanks to her late uncle leaving her an apple farm. The proceeds from that should pay for a nice honeymoon.
Suddenly they are joined by two men, Gordon Fairchild and Rick Rivers. And Fletcherfans, I was unprepared.
Fun fact: I once had a boss who was mad obsessed with Bill Maher. She was terrifying beyond all reason. And so concludes everything I know about Bill Maher. Except that one time he pissed off Batfleck, and everyone knows you don’t piss off Batfleck.
Gordon Fairchild, it turns out has written a book on Patience Tarhune, with the assistance of Mildred, which is coming out on the anniversary of her death. As soon as he heard about the ghost of Patience Tarhune putting in an appearance he hotfooted it over to Cabot Cove with his media advisor Rick Rivers. He says all of this while completely blanking JB, who it seems is not on Fairchild’s radar.
While Fairchild blows his own trumpet, Rick apologises to JB for his behaviour, saying he’s crazed about the book’s release. Fairchild decides he wants to talk to Seth about what he saw at the witches stump and flounces out. Later, Rick is back at his hotel room trying to drum up media interest in the book when Gordon flounces in again, demanding to know when the media will be arriving. Rick promises Gordon he will be up to his neck in media by the next day, the anniversary itself. I think that’s what he said. I couldn’t hear him over his hair.
That night as a mysterious woman arrives in town, Jess,Seth, Mildred and Adam are preparing to go to the Garden Club dinner at the hall and are discussing the story of Patience Tarhune and complimenting the new blue hallway. Oh crap, I just realised Mildred is the mum from ET. Anyway, they are just about to leave when there is a knock at the door. Mildred answers – it’s a woman. Apparently it’s her sister Irene. She can hardly believe it and neither can Seth – Irene is also the ghost of Patience Tarhune.
*DUN DUN DUN*
They all sit down to talk. Apparently Irene was given to her mother’s sister to take care off, as Mildred and Irene’s mother was dying when she had the baby. She asks about a story she heard when she was a kid, about having a witch in the family, and Seth says “funny you should bring that up.” JB asks her what brought her back to Cabot Cove now at this particular time and she says she doesn’t really know how to explain it, she just felt she had to. MYSTERIOUS.
Despite the sudden arrival of a long lost sister, no one can miss the call of the Garden Club casserole dinner, and Seth and JB discuss the news with Reverend Fordyce, who is stunned that Patience Tarhune is possessing Irene. Seth tells him that’s not what he’s saying. A guy wandering past overhears their discussion and tells them she couldn’t have been the witch – he picked her up earlier that evening, and she told him she’d flown up from Arizona that morning. At home that night, Mildred catches Irene sleepwalking, a candle and a fistful of herbs in her hand. She tells Jess about it the next morning, but Jess her not to worry about it, people sleepwalk for lots of reasons.
“With a lighted candle and bunch of herbs used in satanic rites?” Mildred is sceptical.
Wait do witches even smite? They curse things…but I’m more of a smiter , so we’ll go with that.
The next day JB pops in to see the Sheriff, who is dealing with Gordon Fairchild. He reluctantly agrees to let Gordon look at the things recovered from the witches stump, and while he finds them Gordon apologises to JB for his rudeness the day before. He simply didn’t know she was Somebody.
“In Cabot Cove it’s quite permissible to be polite to nobodies.” Says JB and goes to wait for the Sheriff.
Mort tells JB that he contacted the airlines like she suggested, and that Irene’s story checks out – Irene flew from Tucson to Boston.
“Or someone pretending to be Irene did.” JB said. Her suspicious radar is going off the charts.
Gordon reappears to thank Mort for letting him look at the evidence. He points out that one of the figures etched on the clay is Inebrius, the most evil of the demon spirits, usually summoned to bring death to relatives, especially siblings. Jess asks him if he really believes Mildred is in danger, and he says what he believes doesn’t matter.
Deputy Floyd gets a phone call and tells the sheriff and JB there’s some sort of ceremony happening at the witch’s stump outside Agnes Finney’s house. When they arrive an exorcism is underway, being conducted by Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately for all concerned the exorcism is put off due to incessant talking, a woman taking a photo, and the fact that the reverend did not inform Everett Overman of the amount of spirits brought forth by Irene. JB steps in before she can be lynched. Jonas the taxi driver tells her that Irene has been having dreams about the town for years. Jess tells Irene privately she’d hate to see Mildred get hurt or disappointed.
Back at the hotel Gordon is raging at Rick about the lack of book sales and the level of media coverage compared to the exorcism that wasn’t, but Rick tells him to calm down. He’s got a plan that will knock everyone’s socks off, including Gordon’s. He then gets a phone call from a mysterious caller, which he flips out about, saying “She’s backing out on us.”
Later that night, Jess’s sleuthing has turned up a clue – Agnes Finney has been in Pittsburgh for a week, and couldn’t have called Seth for a housecall. Jess thinks it was a lure to get him to see what he saw, but she’s not sure why. She gets a phone call herself, and learns that Patience’s ghost has been seen near the barn belonging to Simon Greeley. Seth and JB head over there just in time to see the “ghost” of Patience Tarhune run into the barn. Seconds later, it catches fire, but not before the ghost has time to belt out an appropriate musical number.
After the fire is extinguished they set to looking for clues but don’t have any success. JB asks Mort if he’s checked the root cellar and he says “Check it? I don’t know what it is.”
“It’s a cellar where they keep roots.” Says Seth.
They quickly locate the trapdoor, open it, and discover the body of Irene. Oh yeah, MURDER she wrote.
The coroner’s findings reveal that Irene was murdered between 11am and 3pm, meaning she couldn’t have been Patience’s ghost. JB thinks Irene was definitely the first ghost, but not the second. Seth tells them that blue paint was found on the body.
Over at the hotel Rick is preparing to leave town, not wanting to be found an accomplice to murder, but Gordon tells him if he leaves he won’t get a cent of the book’s profits. Rick tells Gordon that he’d better hope that no one finds out who Irene really is.
While Doctor Overman conducts an interview saying that the Tahune girls were either victims of a curse or practitioners of the dark arts themselves, JB goes to see Mildred, who says she called Irene at around 1:30 to tell her she was adding Irene’s name to the deed on the house. Irene was so moved by this that she cried. Adam walks in, with the Sheriff wanting to know where Mildred was at the time of the murder. She says she was at the library from open to close, and Adam agrees, saying he was there most of the day doing rewiring.
JB finds Jonas the taxi driver down by the water, looking sad. He tells her that they’d planned to spend the whole day together, but that Irene had decided she was jetlagged from the flight and wanted to sleep. This seals it for JB who goes straight to Mort but he’s just found out Dr Overman is a fraudster from way back and is off to arrest him for the murder. JB tells him that there’s no way Irene is Mildred’s sister, because you can’t get jetlag travelling from Arizona to Boston to Portland like she did. (I dunno about this, I get sleepy flying 45 minutes from Melbourne to Launceston but that might just be me). She’s convinced Irene was in the employ of Rick Rivers and Gordon Fairchild, sent to drum up publicity for the book. They are interrupted by the arrival of R L Pearson, a lawyer representing the estate of Mildred’s uncle who has come to deliver Mildred’s inheritance.
“Oh yes, the apple farm.” Says JB.
“Correction, the former apple farm.” Says RL. It’s now an industrial park and a shopping mall with an estimated value of 5,227,000. Now THAT’s a honeymoon.
They all troop down to the library to deliver the news to Mildred. It turns out that her real sister and aunt died in a flu epidemic many years earlier. RL assumed she knew, he’d sent her a letter outlining what he’d found out. Back at the station Mort is trying to goodcop/badcop Rick Rivers with Deputy Floyd, but is getting nowhere until JB arrives with the news that Rick had purchased the barn from Simon Greerley the day of the fire. Worried he was being made the fall guy Rick tells them that Irene was really Annie Gorman, an out-of-work actress employed to help promote the book. When she backed out, after feeling guilty at what she was doing to Mildred, Rick took over the role but didn’t kill her. Mort is set to arrest Gordon, but JB has suddenly remembered something and goes back to the barn to check it out. Theory confirmed, she lures the killer into her trap and catches him that night, looking for the evidence she claims he left before the police find it.
In a depressing twist, Adam found out about Mildred’s upcoming inheritance and decided to marry her so he could get his hands on it. Not cool dude.
But lets not dwell. Let’s instead go forth from this place thinking about Bill Maher in drag singing the back catalogue of 80s girl bands.
Until next time.