Shenanigans! Outrage! Fancy dogs! Someone is running around Texas pretending to be JB Fletcher!
This obvious doppelganger is on the Case of the Dog What Always Wins The Dog Show, and is breaking into the kennels to prove it. Unfortunately for Jessica Faux-tcher (nailed it), she didn’t take into consideration a little thing called a silent alarm and gets arrested. She’s bailed out the next morning by her friend Kit and her true identity is revealed – Marge Allen, mother of a state senator and so clearly can’t be seen getting arrested breaking into dog kennels. Marge gets Kit to drive her to her car, via the home of kennel owners the McAuleys. Marge returns a short time later to confront Lisa McAuley about the Blatant Outrage of Dog Related Corruption, but begins to scream when a bloodied hand opens a door. Or something.
Meanwhile, in New York City a news report comes on the television – JB Fletcher has been arrested for breaking and entering.
Reassured that she hasn’t been smoking peyote for 6 straight days, JB gets on the phone to sort this out but local sheriff JT Tanner refuses to believe her, and says a split personality defence is between her and her lawyer.
Exasperated, JB gets on the first train, plane and automobile to Bremerton, Texas. Her first stop is the sheriff’s office, but the Sheriff is unmoved by her ID card, Cabot Cove library card and other odds and ends, saying Jessica Faux-tcher had the same ID card. Jessica sighs and asks for directions to the nearest bookshop.
The sheriff capitulates in the face of inescapable logic, and tells JB he’ll change the arrest record to ‘Jane Doe’. JB wants to know what happens next but the sheriff tells her he’ll take care of it. He does begrudgingly tell her name of the person who bailed out Jessica Faux-tcher, and Jess heads there next. She knocks on Kit’s front door and gets a response she probably wasn’t expecting…
That’s nothing compared to what’s inside – the weekly meeting of the JB Fletcher Literary Appreciation Society (JBFLAS)
The literary society – Bertie, Kit, Florence, Jane and Caroline – want to know what JB is doing in town and she tells them about the arrest of Jessica Faux-tcher. Kit looks uncomfortable and tells the others that Marge was the one who got arrested, and had used her JB Fletcher ID so that her son wouldn’t find out. JB is very interested in these Fletcher-IDs and demands they all give theirs up immediately (fair).
Kit tells JB about the Case of The Dog What Wins All The Time, and that Marge had cracked the case that morning. Jess goes to see Marge at home, but finds the house empty and a fresh newspaper on the path.
Back at the headquarters of the society (or as it shall be ever known, JBFLASH), the news of Marge’s death is handled in varying ways.
According to the newspaper, Marge was killed when she lost control of her car. The rest of the JBFLAS call shenanigans – Marge drove that road regularly, there was no way she would have lost control. Jess wonders what Marge discovered at the MacAuley’s house and after a brief competition, Kit volunteers to drive her over.
They arrive at the MacAuley house to discover a wake in progress for Simon MacAuley, recently deceased after he was shot in the back by his dog, the sort of thing that could happen to anyone at any time obviously. The sheriff is surprised to see JB there and hopes that she’s not there to harass MacAuley’s widow Lisa. Kit introduces JB to local insurance salesman Mitchell Lawrence who is also surprised to see JB there on account of she’s dead. He asks them if they knew Simon well and Kit says they never met him. Mitchell says he’d known Simon for a long time, but they weren’t particularly close – Simon preferred dogs. (Understandable).
Mitchell excuses himself and JB tells Kit she’s going to try and have a chat with Lisa McAuley. Kit declares she’s going to scope the room for anything unusual.
Jess wants to reassure Lisa that she wasn’t responsible for the break-in at the kennel, but Lisa doesn’t seem particularly bothered. Jess wonders what Marge could have been looking for and Lisa says there was only paperwork in there, nothing valuable. Jess goes on to say it must have been very upsetting to have Marge turn up at their house that morning looking for her husband, but Lisa says Marge was never there, and her reasons for breaking into the kennel will never be known – Lisa assumes that Marge must have been a crazy grey-haired loon, nothing more, though she is sorry to hear she died.
Jess takes her leave and finds Kit who reports that the sheriff was in an argument with Jethro from Beverly Hillbillies, and that she didn’t think the sheriff liked him all that much. JB thinks Lisa doesn’t like him either, but that they needed to leave before they out-lasted their welcome. Outside they run into Jethro again – turns out he is a state trooper who was hoping to start a canine unit with Simon’s help, but it never got anywhere.
Back at JBFLASH, Jess tells the ladies that Lisa lied about not seeing Marge, and that Jess might stick around for a couple of days, just to satisfy her curiosity. The ladies are delighted and immediately offer their assistance in solving the case.
Jess thanks the ladies, but thinks that she should take her suspicions to the proper authorities. Unfortunately for JB, the proper authorities think it’s all a load of codswallop and the sheriff informs JB that if there’s any investigating to be done, he will do it.
That night JB is dismayed to learn that her credit cards have been cancelled on account of she’s dead according to that one guy in the paper, which is totally legit and the sort of thing that happens all the time. Kit guesses that the local article was picked up by the wires and the news of JB’s untimely demise has gone across the country.
Kit takes JB back to her place for the night, where she calls Seth and Grady (ugh) to confirm that she’s not dead yet. A good nights sleep is in order, and in the morning she is borrowing a dog.
The next morning, Jess acquires a basset hound and a Texan accent and drops the dog off at the MacAuley kennels where the groomer, Rick, hasn’t got much to say on the subject of Simon’s untimely demise. Their next stop is to meet JBFLAS member Florence, incognito at a local restaurant, to find out what she’s learned from her husband at the coroner’s office. She shows them the autopsy report – Marge almost definitely wasn’t driving when she was killed, her glasses were in the glovebox. Florence, pleased with herself goes to have lunch with her husband, and JB notices another clue before Jethro wanders past. He asks about the contents of the envelope and Jess tells him its research for her new book.
“Oh,” says Jethro. “Are you a writer?”
Jess asks Jethro what he meant the previous day when he told Lisa MacAuley he offered his sympathies even under these circumstances. Jethro says he meant stupidity – no self-respecting hunter would leave a loaded rifle leaned up against a tree for a dog to knock over. JB goes to report her theory that Simon McAuley was shot by a person but the Sheriff orders her away from the case. Jess and Kit return to the kennels to pick up the dog, and discover Lisa and Rick have a little something something going on the side nudge nudge wink wink. Back at Kit’s house, they get a visit from the Sheriff – he checked JB’s theory with the coroner and he agreed with JB’s assessment that Simon McAuley didn’t die where the body was found. They go out to the crime scene and get a soil sample to test the theory further.
The next day Jess discovers her phone card has been cancelled on account of that article in the paper what said she was dead and stuff. A passing Mitchell the insurance guy gallantly offers the use of the phone in his office and JB calls Seth to wire her some money. Before she goes, Mitchell asks about the rumour that Simon McAuley’s death was a murder and she confirms that the Sheriff is off getting some evidence tested in Dallas as they spoke.
Back at JBFLASH the society is trawling through old newspapers looking for clues when Bertie bursts in brandishing the password for the insurance company files. They discover that Simon MacAuley’s insurance policy had recently been raised to 2 million dollars. Boom! Motive!
They report their findings to the Sheriff, along with their discovery of Rick and Lisa at the kennel and the Sheriff leaps into action. He heads over to the McAuley house just as Rick hightails it out of there on his motorbike. He puts the word out for Rick to get picked up and requests backup. Inside, he finds Lisa dead.
JB appears to assist the examination of the crime scene and points out blood spatter on the lightbulb in the basement, proving (according to her) her theory that Simon was killed there. Later, when Rick gets picked up he swears he didn’t strangle Lisa, he loved her. He found her dead then ran. The Sheriff is suspicious but Rick’s alibi checks out and he is forced to let Rick go.
Jess calls an emergency meeting at JBFLASH to reassess their position in the case, as their original WIFE OF DEATH theory has kind of fallen apart, and they still don’t know how Marge got inolved. Jess half-remembers seeing something important on the insurance report and checks it again.She remembers Jane’s earlier lament that Simon was the only B- blood donor in the area, which is odd because on the insurance report his blood is listed as A+.
A quick snoop through some medical files later, and JB has solved it.
Mitchell and Lisa had done a deal to split Simon’s insurance money, and so killed him. Marge turned up at precisely the wrong time and so she died. And Lisa was cracking under the pressue and so Mitchell killed him.
This meeting of the JB Fletcher Literary Appreciation Society is now closed. Let’s celebrate with a drink.