Fletcherfans, meet Nick Cullhane.
Nick Cullhane, it turns out, is not a used car salesman but is in fact a detective writer/beer spokesman. Or at least he was. He just got the boot from his boss Ogden Schmesser and his two henchmen Phil Mannix and Gordon Forbes. Fun fact, Ogden’s grandfather is Drew Carey according to this painting.
Oggie, seen in this picture playing some sort of golf game on his Gameboy, is concerned that Nick is preparing to write some sort of expose about him, and Gordon informs Nick that they aren’t renewing his contract. Nick – who owes his bookmaker at least 100K – doesn’t take the news well and departs, just as Phil Mannix turns up. Phil waits for Nick to depart before revealing that he couldn’t find the manuscript in Nick’s place. Oggie assumes that’s the end of that and he can concentrate on living large but Gordon points out that life will not be so large if Oggie’s grandfather Drew Carey gets hold of the manuscript.
Out in the carpark Nick is about to head off when a local toughguy/boxer shuffles him into another car and escorts him to see his bookmaker and boxer manager, Vikki Palumbo, who isn’t not too pleased with him. Nick owes her 150K and she wants it today. Nick tells her he’s going to get a whopping big advance for his next book and he’ll give her the money then, he swears. Vikki gives him 24 hours, then after he leaves calls a friend in New York to find out just how good this new Nick Cullhane book is. The next day, Vikki and her boxer pal Richard arrive at Nick’s cabin just as Our Heroine is leaving a voicemail telling Nick how wonderful she found his new manuscript, and she’d like to know his secret. Inside the cabin is a mess and Nick is nowhere to be found.
Vikki has a solution. She has another client, a private detective, who owes her some money. She gives him two options, pay up or find the manuscript. She plays him the recording of the phone message on Nick’s machine and tells him to find the mysterious woman who has the manuscript.
Harry reluctantly agrees to take the job. Vikki tells him all he needs to do is track down the mystery woman, and go and get the manuscript. Vikki will tag along too, which Richard doesn’t approve of – he tells Harry if he likes his hands he should keep them to himself.
“Everything I do should be so easy!” Says Harry.
Up in the Cove, Sheriff Metzger and Deputy Floyd see Nick arrive on the bus, but Mort can’t work out where he knows the guy from.
“Boston!” Says Floyd.
“How do you know he’s from Boston?” Says Mort.
“Bus came from there.” Says Floyd.
Meanwhile, Nick has just arrived at House Fletcher looking a little worried, but never mind that because BEHOLD THE SHINY BELT OF JUSTICE.
Nick has arrived to ask for the copy of the manuscript he sent her – whomever trashed his place trashed his computer and destroyed his copy of the manuscript. Jess tells him she doesn’t have it and he flips out until she explains that she gave it to Ben Devlin, the local newspaper man, for a second opinion. He’s away fishing in Canada though.
Before JB can explain any further, there is a knock at the front door which sends a spooked Nick out the back door. A very confused JB opens the door to find Nick with Vikki.
Vikki is revealed to be Nick and Harry’s bookmaker, prompting Jessica to say “women are breaking new ground in new professions Miss Palumbo.”
Back in Boston Oggie’s minions have learned that Vikki and Harry have gone to Cabot Cove, courtesy of Phil’s snooping around Richard’s desk. Gordon reminds them that whoever has read the manuscript and can walk and talk afterwards could pose a problem to them.
Later that night Jess gets a call from Nick, wanting to know if the people who were at her place that afternoon were guys by the names of Forbes or Mannix. Jess explains that it was Vikki, and Nick’s mood doesn’t improve. He tells JB if Gordon or Phil turn up at her house she should pretend she doesn’t know him.
Over at Ben Devlin’s house Harry and Vikki are casing the joint when they spot a figure coming out of a window. Harry goes to investigate and finds Nick, who punches him in the face and runs away before the approaching Sheriff can intervene. Vikki heads back to the hotel and apparently hooks up with Phil Mannix, who alerts his bosses that at least 2 people have read the very-much-in-existence manuscript, and tells Vikki to keep her mouth shut. As he leaves he spots Richard in the foyer of the hotel asking for Vikki’s room number.
Down at the Sheriff’s office Mort and Harry are firing potshots off at each other, and Jess has had about enough.
Jess tells Mort that the whole business is to do with Nick Cullhane, and that’s all she’s willing to say. At the diner later, she feels bad that she didn’t tell Mort everything but Harry says they’re just doing their jobs. Jess tells Harry that the missing manuscript is the story of a wealthy playboy and his dodgy lawyer friend who fake a kidnapping attempt in order to get money out of a rich relative – a story that sounds eerily close to the story of Oggie’s kidnapping five years earlier. An expose on how Oggie and Gordon planned the whole thing would explain why Nick was so worried. Harry wonders if the manuscript might be in Ben’s office at the newspaper and Jess shrugs.
At home that night, Jess is getting ready for bed when she hears a knock at the door. She leaves the chain on and opens the door – it’s Gordon the dodgy lawyer looking for the manuscript. Jess tells him she doesn’t have it and tries to close the door but he sticks his hand in the way. Jess tells Gordon that if she calls out her neighbours will hear, and she knows that many of them have guns. (Obviously. It’s America. Even the guns have guns). Gordon tells her he’ll come back in the morning.
Harry decides to break into the newspaper office to see if he can find the manuscript but no sooner had he picked the lock on the front door someone punched him in the stomach and fled, leaving him doubled over, fumbling for what turns out to be a gun, with the body of Nick Culhane on the floor. Mort takes this opportunity to turn up, beaming. Back at the sheriff’s office JB and Harry are exchanging theories while an increasingly annoyed Mort demands more information. Finally he loses it completely and demands they tell him who Oggie is, what the manuscript is, and who got kidnapped.
The next day Oggie arrives in Cabot Cove demanding answers. Phil, who has had it up to here with Oggie’s mouthing off promptly quits his job as henchman, until Gordon gets Oggie to apologise. Over at the hotel, Vikki is mourning the loss of her 150K that Nick owes her, while Richard the boxer is demanding information on her relationship with Harry McGraw, Phil Mannix and every other man that she’s ever met, so she throws him out – straight into the arms of Mannix and Gordon, who demand to know where the manuscript is. Richard swears he can produce it for cash, but Mannix decides to beat the crap out of him instead.
Meanwhile, Mort goes to the aide of Jess with a punctured Fletchermobile, and on the way home discuss the case. The lack of gunshot residue proves that Harry didn’t kill Nick, and more than that, Mort found out that Vikki and Nick used to be a thing, so he’s picked her up and arranged for state troopers to arrest Richard when he turns up. Jess thinks this case is more complicated than that but Mort is convinced – and hasn’t ruled out Harry being involved at least a little bit.
Back at home, Jess received a package from the postman – Ben Devlin has sent down the manuscript. Before Jess can even look at it, Gordon the shady lawyer appears from a back room, demanding the manuscript. He moves towards her slowly.
Fortunately JB’s hero steps in.
Harry thinks they have their man, but JB isn’t sure and asks Gordon if he was the one who searched Nick’s place. He says it wasn’t him, it was Phil.
This gives Jess an idea. She sends Gordon to the hotel, where Oggie and Phil are getting ready to go back to Boston. Gordon is furious. He knows who blabbed all their secrets to Nick Culhane and it wasn’t the secretaries.
When Phil realises the game is up, and Oggie and Gordon know he told Nick everything, he pulls a gun. Fortunately, the Justice Bros step in.
And that, dear Fletcherfans, concludes season 7 of Murder She Blogged. This is the last time we see both Deputy Floyd and Harry McGraw.
But it’s not all bad news. There’s still 4 more seasons of shenanigans to go. And this episode has what can only be the best freeze frame ending of all time.