Welcome to sunny Palm Springs Fletcherfans, where JB has travelled to meet with her accountant and solve the murder of Clark Randall – his wife Marian bumped him off and has just been arrested by Lieutenant JT Hanna, aka Elliot Gould who when he was young looked like Eric Bogosian and I am still confused about who is who and when is when but anyway the point is Marian’s sister Linda Dixon declares it’s ridiculous to arrest Marian based on the farfetched hypothesis of some meddling mystery writer.
Clark Randall, so it was thought, had been killed by an intruder after speaking to his wife on the phone earlier to invite everyone around for steaks. His watch had been stolen, but JB noticed the blinking light on the answering machine, indicating a message. By the time JB goes to the kitchen and brings a glass of water back for Marian the light has stopped blinking.
Marian denies everything, but has no explanation for how Clark could have answered her call when JB’s accountant called almost immediately after and got no answer on the phone. To top it all off, JT tells her the bullet in her husband matches a bullet retrieved from a man who’d been shot after trying to break into Clark and Marian’s about a year earlier – both bullets were fired from the same gun.
Case closed, JT tells JB that he’s impressed with her call about the blinking answering machine light and tells her to stop by his office the next day to take a deposition about the case. JB tells him she and her accountant were not planning to fly out for several days.
The next day over at the town bank a meeting of the minds is taking place – it’s just been discovered that all the money about to be invested in a new housing development being overseen by Clark Randall has disappeared, and they now have a little over 300 dollars with which to build a golf course and houses.
Over in the police station Marian is freaking the hell out, a situation not helped when Linda informs Marian that there’s no money in the account to bail her out. Linda tries to get Marian to think about what assets she can use as bond, but Marian says Clark was her only asset (ew). Linda tells her they need to find the money or else she’ll remain in jail until the trial but Marian says she’ll die first.
The following day, JB is in an investors meeting finding out what has happened to the money. Home-buyer Pauline Byrne is disgusted to learn that the suppliers get their money back before the home-owners do, while one of the older ladies who’d invested her late husband’s life insurance is convinced that dear old Clarksey couldn’t have stolen the money, prompting JT to inform her that she wasn’t the only one of Randall’s female clients who called him Clarksey.
JB’s mind is somewhere else. In fact, I couldn’t decide where it was, so at this point you may choose.
With JB’s accountant Ward Silloway apologising profusely for the omnishambles, JT offers JB a lift home. On the way he informs her that Marian made bail, courtesy of her sister who put up her house as collateral. The DA offered Marian murder 2 but she refused it.
It must have been a big week for you, JT says to JB. “I bet you’ve never seen a corpse before.”
JT gets a call on his car phone – Marian Clarke locked herself in her garage, turned her car on and committed suicide. The J’s head on over to Marian’s house, where Linda is hysterical with rage saying that Marian was determined to fight the charge, and had hired a private detective to try and find Clark’s missing watch but that Marian wasn’t brave and was terrified she would go to jail for a crime she didn’t commit. The Palm Springs version of Seth Hazlitt declares Marian’s death a suicide, and finds anabarbitol in the house which seems to seal the deal.
Later, Linda gets a phonecall from the private detective hired by Marian. He’s found the watch in a pawnshop – the guy who hocked it was some random generic hobo. Fired up, Linda goes down to the police station and informs JT and JB that she’s suing them all for wrongful death. JT freaks out, but Our Heroine is convinced that it changes nothing.
JT heads over to see bank manager Kay Weber to reconfirm the events leading up to Clark’s death and finds the investor Pauline just leaving, after having requested help from Kay tracking down the money only to discover Kay had just been fired. Kay confirms everything he already knows – that they were at a function for the investors, Marian called Clark and then told everyone to come round for steaks and 20 minutes later when they got to the Randall house Clark was dead. She couldn’t remember if Marian went near the answering machine,
JB on the other hand is already at the Randall house, looking at some flowers when she suddenly wonders where the steaks are. JT finds her going through the contents of the fridge but there are no steaks to be found. Deputy Kruger appears to tell JT that the doc needs to speak to him – it turns out that Marian was full of Nardane, a powerful tranquilizer, confirming what the doc had said earlier when he found the bottle.
But, as JB points out, it wasn’t Nardane they found it was anabarbitol. They go to see the doc in person, who has just discovered via Marian’s GP that Marian was allergic to Nardane and so wouldn’t have had any in the house. JT orders Jessica off the case and goes to see the realtor in charge of the new development, Sterling Bose (previously seen as the boss cop in Die Hard) who it turns out has just lost his job too. He gives JT the list of homeowners and investors and tells him about his new job selling an estate up the road. As JT departs, Sterling gets a phone call from Pauline Byrne, seemingly asking him out to dinner but actually at the request of Linda Dixon who is still determined to clear her sister’s name. Conveniently their dinner takes place in the same restaurant Jessica is dining with her accountant and worrying that she was wrong about Marian. Sterling tells Gill and Jess that he thinks Pauline is hunting for information about the money. Jess points out that he was the last person to see Clark alive, to which Sterling agrees, saying that he drove Clark home – Clark’s car was being repaired and Marian had the other one.
Back at Sterling’s house, Sterling is keen to bust some funky moves on Pauline but she’s more conscious of the fact that Linda is in Sterling’s house looking for clues to the location of the money. Pauline sounds the horn as she pulls up with Sterling, the signal for Linda to get out of the house, and then takes off leaving Sterling in the driveway looking very forlorn.
In JT’s office the next morning, Jessica disguises herself as a newspaper.
While JT tries to throw her out (and yells at Deputy Kruger for coffee) JB explains why she’s there. She couldn’t sleep, and she suddenly remembered JT taking something out of Clark’s pockets after he searched the body.
“You mean his passport?” Asks JT.
Deputy Kruger appears with the news that the coffee machine is broken. JB, naturally, shares her coffee with JT.
Well, I say coffee.
Booze dispensed, JB goes on. She didn’t think anything of Clark Randall having his passport on him at the time, but at the time they didn’t know that 3 million dollars had wandered off. JT sees where she’s going with this, and tells her to get on the phone they have airlines to call.
Finally, a breakthrough – tickets were purchased for the night of the murder for a flight from LAX to Buenos Aires… in the names of Mr and Mrs Randall.
Jess looks confused. Marian Randall had no idea her husband was leaving the country. Mrs Randall wasn’t the droid they were looking for. The airline calls JT back and asks if it’s okay to reverse the transaction back to the credit card used to make payment on the booking. JB thinks that’s hardly a priority for Clark Randall, but JT tells he didn’t book the tickets – former bank vice-president Kaye Webber did.
The Js find Kay at the tennis club, and it doesn’t take long for her to break down. She was having an affair with Clark and was going to go to Buenos Aires with him but they were going to come back as far as she knew, despite the one way plane tickets. She had no idea where the money was, but does admit to being at Clark and Marian’s house on the day of the murder. She tells the Js that she always thought Marian knew about the affair but didn’t do anything about it. She casually mentions the hire car Clark had out the front of his house, which makes no sense to Jess as Sterling had told her he’d given Clark a lift because his car was in the shop. And why leave the car out on the street when the garage was empty.
Now here’s when it gets tricky Fletcherfans.
JT discovers the name on the car rental is Pauline Byrne. They pick her up for questioning and before long Deputy Kruger appears with a briefcase with 3 million dollars in it.
Pauline comes clean. She had gone round to the Randall house to meet Clark but was surprised to find Marian home, arguing with Clark. Clark told her he was leaving her, she made a grab for the bag to see if the identity of the other woman was in it, he grabs it back, she shoots him, he falls down, money falls out of the bag and Marian faints.
Seizing the opportunity, Pauline goes in to grab the money but finds Clark still alive. He tells her to call a doctor, but instead she smothers him with a pillow, takes the money and runs.
“But not the watch and the money in his wallet?” Asks JT. “Then who did that?”
JB’s theory: Marian, in order to cover up the fact that she thought she killed her husband. She left it out for a hobo to find, and then make a point to hire the detective to find it again later.
As for Marian, when the news of the embezzlement was about to break, Pauline killed Marian to stop her telling everyone who took the money.
So, to sum up:
But I think we’ve learned a valuable lesson here. Not exactly a Life Lesson, but a lesson nonetheless:
Jessica Fletcher is Never Wrong
(Even when she is technically wrong.)
And on that note,