Back in the Big Apple this week Fletcherfans, where JB is signing ALL THE BOOKS for her adoring fans. That comes to an end however, when Jess’s old friend Winston Devermore appears to take her to dinner.
And I think we should just all pause and reflect on her outfit for a minute.
Winston has an ulterior motive for inviting JB to dinner though. He wants her to come speak at the Avernus Club, a men-only club for rich white dudes, in the hopes that it might persuade members to finally allow women into the club. Would she be interested?
Meanwhile, somewhere else in New York, fellow Club member Lawrence Cayle is pissing off people left and right, including but not limited to Gerald Innsmouth, who he has screwed out of a business deal. When he complains to Lawrence, he says hashtag get over it, it’s just business etc etc, but his assistant/brother Theo quietly tells Gerald that he’s not the only Avernus Club member mad at Lawrence.
JB’s reading is naturally a success, thanks largely in part to her outfit:
Winston brings some of his friends to come and greet the Queen herself, including Avernus Club president Philip Arkham, and new member Edward Dunsany (vineyard owner) who says that a guest speaker from the distaff gender was well overdue.
Philip tells her she made more sense than Hemmingway and departs, as does Dunsany when he sees Lawrence Cayle making a move on his wife. He busts up the little flirt fest and tells his wife to get her coat and Cayle to stay away from her. Cayle tells him to tell that to his wife, she’s a good year and he can’t keep her locked in his wine cellar forever. YES YOU COMPARED HIS WIFE TO A BOTTLE OF WINE CONGRATULATIONS.
As Jess and Winston are getting ready to leave, a young man delivers an envelope to Winston. Inside is a key and a note that says midnight. Later, when Winston returns to the house he finds the rest of the gang – Arkham, Dunsany, Harcourt, Gerald Innsmouth – all there. Arkham says they were wondering where he was and Winston tells him he got held up, but that he wants no part of this. This, it turns out, is the matter of what to do with Lawrence Cayle. Gerald rants about how much it’s cost him now that Gerald has squeezed him out of his business deal, but Arkham tells him to calm down. He’s not the only one Cayle has pissed off, they need to decide what the consequences will be. Another club member, Harcourt Fenton, asks why they need to sanction him at all, why can’t they just kick him out, but Arkham says they never know when they might need him, although Edward’s report about Cayle and his wife is at best inappropriate (which Edward thinks is lowballing it a bit).
Arkham orders that a vote be cast to decide if Cayle should be sanctioned and summons Philip’s assistant Lisa Sutton in to collect the votes – a black marble means sanction, a white marble means no sanction. The votes are in – Cayle is being voted off the island. Harcourt says he’s had enough of this and leaves.
Arkham isn’t done though – a new vote must happen, to decide who enforces the will of the committee. Whomever catches the snitch selects the gold marble will be in charge of doling out punishment. Lisa trots around the table with a bag, and each member grabs a marble out of the bag. “The selection has been made.” Intones Akham. “Now let’s never speak of this again.”
The next night, Jess is out to dinner with Winston when the Cayle’s pop in. While Winston and Lawrence have a heated discussion in the corner, Lawrence’s brother Theo tries to distract JB, who is having none of it but is unable to find out what the deal is. The following day, at a shooting party, Lawrence confronts Arkham about the secret meeting but Arkham tells him he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. That night at a party, Jess meets a bedraggled Lisa Sutton, caught out in the rain, while Lawrence Cayle gets an envelope with a key and a note that says midnight. Jess and Winston are on the way out when Winston asks the valet where Theo Cayle is – he’s not sure but he thinks he just left as his car is gone.
Jess comes in the next morning as soon as she hears but Winston doesn’t know much. He introduces JB to the investigating officer, Lieutenant Tartarus, who tells her she won’t get much of a story – Cayle was shot with a shotgun, they’ll just test the club members for gun shot residue and see who the guilty party is. Jess points out there was a trap shooting competition there yesterday so everyone will test positive. Tatartus is not pleased. He departs, and Jess asks Winston why he wanted her there so urgently, and a minion appears to let them know the rest of the committee is in the drawing room.
“Let me get this straight,” Jess says. “You all voted to sanction Lawrence Cayle 4-1, someone was chosen to be the enforcer and now he’s dead?
Arkham asks her to try and solve who killed Cayle so that they’re off the hook, or if it was one of them, that they can get out in front of it before the police find out. JB agrees, thinking it’s a little odd that she’s being hired by the group that almost certainly has a killer as a member. Dunsany doesn’t see the funny side and leaves. Harcourt says to Jess she’s got her work cut out for her.
JB wastes no time and so she and Winston head over to House Cayle, arriving just as Harcourt Fenton is departing. Jess tells Winson she thinks she should talk to Theo Cayle alone, and so he leaves her there. Before he drives off, he calls Harcourt asking to meet him that afternoon at 4pm.
Inside, Theo tells Jess he has no idea who killed his brother – they were always a great team. Jess doesn’t want to take up too much of his time, but Theo offers to drive her back to town. As he adjusts the car seat, she asks him why Harcourt had been to see him but he says he was just offering condolences.
Across town, Lieutenant Tatartus informs Arkham that he has found out about the vote, and that the Club is set to inherit a whole wad of money from Cayle’s will. Arkham’s response is to hand the phone over – the commissioner is on the phone.
Later, Winson and Harcourt are in Harcourt’s car when Harcourt realises he has no brakes – and the car goes off into a ravine. Winston survives, but Harcourt doesn’t make it. JB goes to see him in the hospital and he tells her they were on their way to see Philip to tell him they needed to come clean to the police. Winston is pretty out of it and starts saying he didn’t even want to sanction Lawrence, he was the only one who voted not to. 1 white marble, 4 black…
The doctor says the sedatives are kicking in and asks them all to go outside. A nurse pops up to tell him that someone has broken into Winston’s locker and stolen his clothes, and that another locker that had contained Harcourt’s things had been broken into but nothing taken, as Harcourt’s belongings had already been sent to the morgue. JB thinks they’d better have a look at them so they head on down to the coroners office. Amongst his things they find a black marble. Tartarus doesn’t see the significance but Our Heroine does and they have a taxi company to find.
Later that day, midnight notes are sent to the Committee and they assemble in the boardroom. Lisa Sutton and Theo Cayle are also in attendance. Jess explains her discovery – two people voted white, Winston and Harcourt. The only solution is that someone pre-rigged the vote, and that someone was Lisa.
But, Fletcherfans, she’s not the killer! It turns out someone paid her ten thousand dollars to rig the vote, and there’s no way Lisa’s going down without taking them down with her…
Ah yes. Everyone was sick of Lawrence’s behaviour, but someone had to put up with it a little longer than everyone else.
Case closed! And with Winston out of hospital he wants to thank Jess the only way he knows how.