Welcome to Atlanta Fletcherfans, home of the BRI (Biological Research Institute, and absolutely not the Centre for Infectious Diseases why would you think that) where some Hard Core Science is happening.

Doctor James Lamont, head Science Guy, is going into the top secret part of the lab, the part that requires fancy outfits and passwords, to take a look at his pet project Project 14 which I can only assume is the zombie virus. He is joined in the lab by Security Chief Mark Reisner (aka Gregg Henry) who would like to know why Lamont has been dodging his requests for a security interview. Lamont is outraged but finally agrees to one to take place on Friday.

Later that day, Our Heroine is rolling into the Gambier Hotel for the weekend to judge the Georgia Amateur Mystery Writers Conference page 1 competition. She finally gets her suite key after her original suite is given to a cranky man who checks in ahead of her. Oh yes. Suites for days.

As it happens Lamont is in the hotel bar waiting to meet someone and WOULD YOU BELIEVE it’s the cranky man who took JB’s room ahead of her? It would appear he’s got his hooks into Lamont for something, he seems to know all about how Lamont’s wife left him, his lawyer won’t return his calls until he pays him, and the Atlanta Hawks lost something. Raul Jaffa (pronounced Jafar, because of course, it is) is there to purchase the Project 14 Zombie Virus from Lamont, but Lamont is worried that Mark Reisner knows too much. Jaffa tells him not to worry about it and gives him a hundred grand as a down payment on the virus. Meanwhile, a man in a suite listens to the whole conversation on his earpiece.

Meanwhile, Mark is catching up with his old pal from Manhattan University, Jessica Fletcher. His wife Karen Reisner is the president of the Georgia Amateur Mystery Writers Society and so they discuss the program for the conference – and the fact that the page ones Jessica has to judge have gone missing – before Mark gets a call summoning him back to work. Karen confides to JB that she’s worried the viruses at the BRI are making Mark tired and overworked and turning into a zombie.

Turns out the pages were sent to JB’s room, so mystery solved I guess.

Later that night, Lamont and Reisner sit in a car with FBI Agent Ed Crider. It would seem that Lamont had previously confided in Reisner about Jaffa’s offer and he brought in the feds to investigate. Crider tells Lamont to keep his meeting with Jaffa, and they’ll surveil the whole thing. After Lamont leaves Crider tries to boot Reisner from the investigation but Reisner refuses to be shut out.

Also later that night…

Rocking the polka dots like nobody’s business

…Jessica promises her publisher she’ll do an interview if she has time, and discovers she’s received the wrong manila envelope in her room – instead of mystery stories, she has photos and notes in French.

Down the hall, the FBI has set up surveillance of Jaffa in Jessica’s old room. Crider is taking charge of the whole situation but is pissed now that CIA agent Dennis Quinlan has wandered into proceedings. Apparently, there’s an international arms dealer and assassin by the name of Carl Van Ness in town looking to get his hands on the zombie virus, and he looks suspiciously like the man in the photos Jessica was looking at.

You wouldn’t believe it, but the man himself is already in Jaffa’s room kicking back and reading Jessica’s envelope of short stories. The phone rings and Van Ness inexplicably thinks that answering is a good idea. It’s JB looking for Jaffa, who enters the room just at that moment. Van Ness announces he’s a deliveryman and injects Jaffa with a syringe. He collapses, and Van Ness saunters off with Jaffa’s suitcase.

At that moment, the FBI surveillance cameras kick into life – just in time to see JB walking down the hall towards Jaffa’s room. Crider flips and chases after her, but arrives in time for JB to discover her envelope of short stories and Jaffa’s body. Crider tells her he’s the house detective, clearly, Jaffa died of a heart attack, he’ll take care of it from here. He asks Jessica what she’s doing there and she explains about the mix-up with the envelopes. He takes a look at the one in her hand but dismisses it has he can’t speak French. She translates it for him but he still doesn’t think there’s anything to be concerned about.

I’m going to miss that face.

Reisner and Quinlan wander into the room and beg JB to forget she was ever there. Put out, she agrees and leaves as another man comes in – National Security Agent and JB Fletcher Fanboy Nathan Mitchell (aka the Candyman). He basically tells them all they’re hopeless and hatches his own plan – they will swap out the virus for a knockoff and let Lamont keep his appointment with Jaffa that Van Ness is clearly planning to keep. A tracker in the vial will lead them to Van Ness’s secret lair and then they’ll nab everyone.

Seems like a solid plan to me.

The next day Van Ness plants a bug in JB’s room for reasons I do not understand frankly I don’t think he’s all that, evil genius-wise. Lamont is picked up by Crider, told there’ll be no surveillance following him, and driven to his meeting with Van Ness, while Reisner follows.

Van Ness and Lamont meet in an abandoned factory and Van Ness hands over more money in exchange for the virus later that day. As he leaves, Lamont makes a call and tells whoever is on the line that it’s all arranged, but that something needs to be done about Reisner. High up in the rafters, Reisner records the whole thing.

Back at the hotel, JB is about to head out when she spots Van Ness and so does what any sensible law-abiding citizen would do – follows him. She doesn’t get very far of course, as the Fed/CIA/NSA triumvirate have surveilled the entire hotel and Nathan Mitchell swoops in and diverts her to their surveillance room. He’s a big fan, but he just doesn’t understand what possessed her to trail Van Ness.

“A murder suspect? That question doesn’t deserve an answer. I was hoping to provide you with a location!” Says JB.

ALL HAIL.

Mark Reisner wanders in looking absent-minded and asks to meet Jessica for tea later while sneaking a key into her coat pocket. Mitchell begs JB to leave Atlanta but until she fulfils her obligations to the Georgia Amateur Mystery Writers Society she’s not going anywhere except back to her room to write her presentation speech.

As she walks out she crashes into Crider, who spills his takeaway coffee and wants an update. Quinlan announces they ran a check on every licence plate within a mile radius of Lamont’s meeting with Van Ness and wants to know why Reisner’s car came up. Reisner tells them his position is clear – he’s there to protect the zombie virus and if they try to arrest him on obstruction of justice he’ll go public and bring it all down on them.

Back in her suite, JB calls the local police station looking for Lieutenant Paul Bragg, a friend of Artie Gelbers, while Van Ness listens in on the whole thing. Hanging up, JB spots the flowers in her room and goes in for a closer look and finds the bug. Mark Reisner knocks on the door and she warns him to shush and they head out.

Mark begs her to leave Atlanta with Karen but Jessica’s not having a bar of it. She’s had her papers confused with an assassin’s, she’s been accused of seditious meddling by three federal agencies and her room’s been bugged. She wants in on whatever is going on, and she wants in now.

I’ve been looking forward to this episode and it hasn’t disappointed in the slightest.

Mark caves and explains the whole thing. JB promises to look after Karen, while Mark heads to Washington to tell the Attorney General what he knows. As he heads up the escalator JB finds his key in her pocket but he’s too far away to see her waving. Suddenly there are shots and Mark crashes down the escalator, dead.

Lieutenant Paul Bragg is summoned to the scene but quickly informs JB that whatever intrigues she knows about, he doesn’t need to know. It’s already being written up as a robbery gone wrong. Meanwhile, over at the BRI, Lamont takes a vial of zombie virus out of storage.

Back in her hotel room with Karen, JB remembers the key she found but has no idea where it’s for. She calls Lieutenant Bragg and asks where Mark got the parking ticket they found on his body, and he tells her it was for the midtown train station. While Lamont and Van Ness conclude their business, JB sends Karen to the train station to see what Mark left in the locker – a cassette tape and a note for JB explaining that Mrs Parker’s Revenge solved the problem. Karen doesn’t understand and JB doesn’t really either except that Mrs Parker was a character in one of her books. They listen to the taped recording of Lamont’s first meeting with Van Ness, and his subsequent mystery call, and are stumped until Jessica has a Second Thought about cell phones and calls Bragg to get him to trace the call. (Her first thought being, it’s a shame about the thunder on the tape I could have heard the phone buttons being pressed and worked out what the number was that way, oh the 90s it was a simpler time).

With the news that Van Ness is being tracked to the Middle East, the Spy Team decide to have a beverage to celebrate, despite the fact that Lamont has disappeared with two million dollars. JB runs into Lieutenant Bragg in the hotel lobby and learns that Lamont’s phone call on the tape came from a Starbucks two blocks from the hotel.

JB enlists Lieutenant Bragg as backup and goes to visit the Spy Team for a little chat.

Of course, it was

Turns out Crider and Jaffa were in cahoots and transporting the virus in Jaffa’s duck umbrella. But never mind that, because what happened next made me so deliriously happy that it can only be explained in screen caps.

SLY-THER-IN QUEEN.

Mrs Parker’s revenge, it turns out, came from one of JB’s novels in which a wife discovered her husband was planning to poison her and so subbed out the offending liquids. And then presumably killed her husband, we’ll never know.

And that, my dear Fletcherfans, is the story of how Jessica Fletcher single-handedly stopped the zombie apocalypse, received a job offer to work at the NSA and the CIA, and deliver the keynote presentation to the Georgia Amateur Mystery Writers Society.

Stay tuned next week for the *gulp* last ever episode of Murder, She Blogged.

Last. Ever.

Boy, I am not ready for this.

Later, Fletcherfans!

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