Welcome to a mysterious and far away kingdom called Las Vegas.
JB is in relucantly in town to attend a book fair, but has been sent on a mission by her publisher Ted Hartley to check on his daughter Susan, who is studying in Vegas. Her other mission, that she has chosen to accept, is to bet on 14 on the blackjack table on behalf of Ahmed the doorman.
On the way to the hotel, McSorley’s, JB gets the low-down on the hotel from the head of security Larry Thorson. Apparently someone had tried to buy McSorley’s but the deal fell through at the last minute and now the casino is bleeding money.
At the casino, Ted’s daughter Susan is working as a waitress while her boyfriend Eddie is working the tables and may or may not be up to some shifty shenanigans. JB arrives to meet the PR lady Alice Baxter, who begs her to attend a party being held in the penthouse by casino manager Jerry Pappas. JB thinks she’s not dressed, and also she’s tired, but Alice begs her and JB agrees. Alice tells her to checkout the day spa and get a massage from Max with the magic fingers.
JB notices the security cameras in the elevator on the way up and Alice tells her they were added during the recent renovations, but that unfortunately it doesn’t matter how much money gets spent if you don’t have Dean Martin or Julio Iglasias headlining.
Upstairs Jess is horrified to see everyone decked out but Alice assures her it’s fine and introduces her to Wes McSorley and his wife Katherine, as well as casino manager Jerry Pappas who wants a quiet word with Wes – money is disappearing from the casino but Wes says not to worry, he’ll handle it. Later, JB finds Wes watching his wife with Pappas. When Wes realises she’s there he quickly offers her a drink but JB says it’s her bedtime. On her way out she runs into drunky-mcdrunk-drunk Katherine McSorley powdering her nose, who asks JB who she thinks is really running the casino. JB suggests it’s time for bed, but Katherine has things to
The next morning JB catches up with Susan Hartley (who is the daughter from Honey I Shrunk The Kids and that’s the first time I’ve thought about that movie in a billion years), who sings the praises of her boyfriend Eddie, with whom she has a joint bank account (SUBTLE PLOT POINT IS SUBTLE). Eddie joins them for a moment to turn on the charm and offer to drive them out to Hoover Dam that Saturday.
Isn’t he great? Says Susan.
The hotel head of security, Larry Thorson, picks her up for their “date” and they head into the casino so Jess can put her bet 14 on for Ahmed.
JB and Larry get distracted by the jackpot bell going off on one of the slot machines, and miss the next round of roulette, which works out great as Jess manages to double Ahmed’s money completely by accident. Larry takes her back to see his office, where the security oversees all the card tables, and highlights one screen in particular – whenever that particular dealer is working the house loses just a bit more than probability dictates. The dealer turns for a second – it’s Eddie. Shady Eddie.
The next day, Susan is going through a bank statement and is worried to see that there’s way less money in there than she thought. Eddie finds her looking at it and yells at her. She says he left it on the dresser and asks him if he’s gambling. He tells her the money is for him to do with as he likes and that’s that.
That afternoon JB is between events at the book fair looking for Susan but a waitress tells her she didn’t show up for work that day but promises to get Susan to get in touch if she sees her. Alice reminds JB about her engagements for the next day as well as the cocktail party that night. JB says she’d rather go to bed with a good book, but she’ll be there.
Back in the security office Larry is watching the security camera. Pitt boss Frank Stinson is with Eddie watching him deal, and notices a chip disappear. Frank looks at the security camera and nods his head. Larry goes in and drags Eddie out, Frank close behind.
Out in the car park Larry tells Eddie that it’s his lucky day – since the McSorley’s have a bit of a problem with the Nevada Gaming Commission he won’t call the police but Eddie’s not to leave town until Larry has spoken to Jerry Pappas. Eddie looks at Frank who nods his head. CONSPIRACY AND ALSO I HAVEN’T WATCHED OCEANS ELEVEN IN AGES.
Later that night, when Frank is heading to his car, he is accosted by Eddie, who knocks the briefcase Frank is carrying out of his hand. It bursts open, and chips fall everywhere. TOTES CONSPIRACY. Eddie starts beating up Frank, accusing him of double-crossing and lying when he said they were protected, but Frank tells Eddie that they are protected, by Jerry Pappas, and to go see in the penthouse that night to get it all straightened out. Eddie says Frank told him the exact same thing a week before, but that Jerry hadn’t been there but Frank says he didn’t know why that happened, but Jerry would definitely be there that night.
JB arrive at the penthouse and runs into Alice, but while Wes McSorely is in attendance, both Jerry and Katherine McSorely are missing. Later when JB is delightedly leaving, Katherine is snatching compacts off people to powder her nose but has no idea where her husband or Jerry or Alice is. Jess beats a hasty escape down to the casino where she runs into Eddie Wheaton, but he brushes her off and tells her to stay out of his business when she tries to warn him about the casino investigation. On her way out an old lady asks her to mind a machine while she makes a pit stop, so while Jess waits (because she’s not going to say no), she pops a quarter into a slot machine and wins the jackpot because she’s Jessica God Damn Fletcher.
A note about the little old lady though:
Anyway a short time later, Jerry Pappas takes a swan dive from the top of McSorely’s Casino, because this is Murder, She Wrote. The next morning, Susan finds JB in the foyer of the hotel and tells her Eddie’s been arrested for Jerry’s murder and she doesn’t know what to do and she can’t call her father. Jessica tells her to go home and calm down, she’ll see what she can find out.
Up in the penthouse Jess finds Larry Thorson talking to a detective, while Wes McSorely is trying to decide how to spin this to the media with Alice Baxter. He decides to go with the angle that he and Jerry were life long friends, but that Jerry killed himself after his scam was uncovered. “Maybe there was a love triangle in there somewhere too.” He says with a pointed look at his wife, who is in tears. He gives her her compact from his pocket and tells her to clean herself up, there’s press downstairs.
The lieutenant orders the room cleared and Larry introduces him to Jessica. Jessica asks him what he has on Eddie, and he tells her that Eddie doesn’t deny being with Jerry right before the murder, which the surveillance tapes from the elevator will prove, plus Eddie doesn’t deny Jerry took a swing at him. Jess says it doesn’t make sense, this was just a job for Eddie, he was studying to be an accountant. Lieutenant Murphy tells her that it wasn’t true – Eddie wasn’t studying anything, he was down at the bus station scamming tourists.
Jess goes straight to the horses mouth, and a visibly worse for wear Eddie confirms everything the lieutenant says, but swears he didn’t kill Jerry. After he and Pappas got into it, Eddie left to go look for Frank. Eddie does think that there was a woman up there, as he saw a silver compact on the table, but he couldn’t be sure. But he swears he didn’t do it, he left at 10:15 (plot point is pointy). Susan tells him she wants to believe that he didn’t kill Jerry but she wanted him to say that none of it was true and runs out in tears. Eddie asks Jess if she will be leaving him too and she says while she despises what he’s done to Susan, she thinks there’s a lot of things that don’t make sense and she’ll talk to him later. She wants to check some things out.
JB’s next stop is the security office where they watch the security video of Eddie going up and down in the elevator. The video is time-stamped 10:20, disproving Eddie’s claim he left at 10:15, but JB thinks something is up. Eddie’s clothes aren’t ripped in the video at 10:20, but when she saw him that morning his vest was ripped. She’s certain someone swapped out the tapes. She checks with Eddie, who tells her about how Frank had told him he was summoned to the penthouse the week before, at around 10pm, but that Jerry hadn’t been there.
Jess shares her theory with Larry and Lieutenant Murphy but Murphy is having none of it. Jess tells him she’s sure Eddie is being set up and that they need to find Frank Stinson.
Unfortunately for them, someone else found him first and put a bullet in his head. Awkward. JB breaks the news to Susan, and tells her Eddie is the prime suspect in both murders, and Susan is devastated but not surprised. JB says that despite the stealing, she doesn’t think Eddie killed Jerry or Frank and she has a hunch. She’s found out that the casino is part-owned by a company called Seashore Properties and she thinks she knows who owns that company. Later, Jess goes to see Larry to ask about fire stairs. He tells her the stairs to the penthouse are locked, and only he, Wes, Jerry and some maintenance and security staff would have access. She asks to borrow Larry’s key to test a theory. Larry agrees, but tells her to wait until after eight, to make sure Lieutenant Murphy’s crew are out of the penthouse.
While she waits, Jess hangs out with Alice Baxter to ask her what she remembers about the party. Alice tells her she can’t remember their movements, and she left at 9:30 to do some more work. Jess sees someone with a compact and that lightbulb goes off. She calls Lieutenant Murphy to confirm that they didn’t find a compact when they searched the penthouse and he says no.
At 8pm Jess heads into the fire stairs and runs into Wes McSorely.
And of course…
Wes, it transpires, was not the true owner of the casino, he was more of a token leader. Jerry Pappas was a swindler from way back who changed his name and became half owner through his Seashore Properties company. They came to blows when Wes wanted to sell and Jerry didn’t so Wes sent Jerry over the edge. He got Frank to help set up Eddie and then killed Frank when he worried Frank could no longer be trusted.
Wes cuts the story short when he pulls out a gun, and starts to talk about how people end up over the balcony, but Larry crashes through the door with reinforcements.
Case closed Fletcherfans! And now all that’s left to do is for JB to return to New York to give Ahmed his winnings and deliver the best freeze frame ending since the last time I said it was the best freeze-frame ending.