This week JB is somewhere in Tennessee, recording one of her stories to tape for a series of recorded books for the blind being put together by Greg Dalton, recently blinded in an accident, and his wife Nancy. In the studio next door, Stony Carmichael is recording with his band under the watchful eye of studio boss Randy Withworth and sound engineer Al Parker.
Randy isn’t having the best time of it. Stoney Carmichael is getting all up in his business when he discovers bootleg copies of his comeback album are being sold on the street, Randy’s wife is all uppity because she thinks he’s after her money, but he is finally buying out his co-owner Carl Angelin, and he’s just cancelled the run of books on tape, much to the annoyance of Greg and Nancy.
That was terrifyingly factual. I apologise. But all this happened. And then the lights went out. And when they came back up, Randy was face down on his desk, bleeding out (but not dead yet) after being stabbed. Lieutenant Faraday arrives on the scene and quickly establishes his investigative methods by telling Nancy Dalton not to worry her pretty little head about it, and telling JB “like they say in those bus commercials – why don’t you sit back, relax, and leave the driving to us?”
JB tries to tell the lieutenant about a clue, but he is more interested marvelling what a good hobby writing is for a woman. “You can cook up some supper, chat on the phone and then pop over to the old typewriter now and then for a few minutes.”
“Yes, when I’m not too busy beating the laundry against the rocks in the river.” JB says.
Lieutenant Farady tries the compliment insult method used by douchebags in bars the world over to this day. “I bet your books are just charming. But then, of course real murder is anything but charming. And solving it requires patience, strength…”
“Ah! Man’s work!” Says JB
Greg Dalton finally gets a word in and tells Lieutenant Faraday that he heard something that JB thinks could be important, if he’s interested.
“Well of course, sometimes ladies have real good hunches.” Says Lieutenant Faraday.
Greg tells the lieutenant he was getting water from the fountain when he heard someone run by him and something drop. Lieutenant Faraday is surprised to learn that Greg is blind. JB spots a dropped bottle of expensive nail polish on the floor and brings it to the lieutenant’s notice. He tells her he saw it too, and mutters “leave it to a woman to find nail polish.”
The lieutenant gets a phone call and tells them all that Randy was dead on arrival at the hospital. A minion tells him that they’ve found the murder weapon, shoved behind a vending machine just as Greg heard it.
The next morning, JB and Greg defend Sparta against the Persian invasion.
Inside Greg gets a phone call from Carl, co-owner of Red River Recording Studios, cancelling the Mystery Books on Tape deal effective immediately. JB wonders at whether he has the power to do so, so they go round to his house for tea and biscuits. He tells them he’s in the process of acquiring the business, but JB saw a cheque and a contract on Randy’s desk the previous night. Carl tells them a lots changed since then.
Waiting for them when they arrive home is Lieutenant Faraday with a warrant. Nancy excuses herself to make coffee, but when JB goes to give her a hand she finds Nancy hiding her knives in the dryer. It turns out she recognised the murder weapon as being her missing knife, stolen after a work barbecue at their house a few days earlier, and was hiding the others to stop someone setting up Greg. JB tells her that the knife will also clear Greg and urges her to come clean.
Unfortunately JB forgot who she was dealing with. The fact that the knife belonged to Greg, plus his witness to the fight he had in the restaurant with Randy over the Books for the Blind series, plus the fact that Randy was the person who caused Greg to go blind equals a pretty solid case for Faraday. After all, he says, who more capable of operating in the dark than a blind man?
With Greg being held for questions and Nancy about to lose it, JB decides to take matters into her own hands. She tries to talk to Lieutenant Faraday, who has just requested that the studio be unsealed now that he has all his evidence, but he tells her to not be an irrational outsider, and that he didn’t want to see her again unless she was with a man arranging Greg’s bail.
“Lieutenant Faraday, believe it or not there are women who can arrange bail. And besides that, you’re the one behaving irrationally by failing to pursue all the leads in this case.”
With the scene of the crime reopened, JB heads back to the studio to hunt for clues. Stony Carmichael turns up with his niece Sally Ann in his car, and sound engineer Al Parker roars up on his motorbike (without a helmet tsk tsk) to resume recording Stony’s new album. (Sidenote: the actor playing Stony sang Devil Went Down to Georgia.) (Side side note: I want a nickname like Stony).
JB asks Al if he heard anything while he was on the phone to Randy at the time he was stabbed, but he can’t think of anything and is eager to get back to work. JB’s next target is Earl, the sound engineer working on her Books for the Blind recording, whom she saw arguing with Randy that night. He tells her the power was always going off and on during recording, but it came on of its own volition. He also tells her that Randy accused him of selling bootlegged copies of Stony’s tapes which he took exception to.
Jess takes a look inside Randy’s office but is interrupted by Carl coming in with Randy’s wife Margaret, trying to reinstate the original deal her husband had with Carl. Carl goes off to get Jess’s book tape. JB notices Margaret wearing the same shade of nail polish as the one knocked on the floor of the office, and Margaret admits she was in the office that night but nothing more. Tape in hand, JB is about to leave the studio when she sees Stony get into a fight with Carl, over some shenanigans with his niece. Apparently he wasn’t the only owner of the studio to have a crack either.
That night while Jess is listening to her tape reading, she has an idea. It looks like this:
Which leads to a cunning trap to catch the killer.
It turns out, Al not wearing a helmet was a clue – his visor was infrared, which meant he could scurry about in the dark stabbing Randy, after rigging his sound board with a switch to kill the lights. I guess he was the bootlegger?
And so concludes Season 3 of Murder She Wrote, aka the season I marathoned Breaking Bad with absolutely no side-effects. Stay tuned for the start of season 4 next week, and for more news on my new best idea ever, livetweeting a Murder, She Wrote movie.
But until then, dear reader