We’re off to Georgia this week Fletcherfans, where JB is hitting the publicity circuit for her latest book, and someone called Steve Landon is having a blue with someone called Ben Olston because the architectural plans for the school Steve designed are not being followed by Olston’s construction company. Etcetera etcetera.
While Steve, outraged at Olston’s shady practices, tries to get the whole situation down on paper, Olston decides to alert his lady-friend and wheel-greaser Dawn Bickford that Steve refuses to be bribed. Dawn is worried, as the money saved from the corner-cutting on this project isn’t enough to justify the expense that might pop up if someone were to look into Olston’s other projects. Plus she’d probably get fired. Olston tells her he has a solution, but quickly changes his tone when his wife appears, but it turns out she’s dropping by to remind him she’s heading out of town to spend time with her mother.
Later that night, a gloved hand breaks into the construction site with a briefcase full of dynamite, the consequences of which interrupt JB’s phone call to Seth (still M.I.A on the show). JB says it’s not thunder but it might be a sonic boom. Shake shake shake the room.
The next morning, JB gets a phone call from Steve Landon’s mother Nancy, who is a big fan and was hoping they could meet. Jess explains that she’s fully booked, but Nancy mentions she was stationed in Korea with Frank during the war and Jess discovers that suddenly she’s free for lunch if Nancy can meet her at the hotel.
Downtown, Dawn wanders in to her boss’s office and announces that Steve Landon has been arrested for the bombing at the construction site, he threatened to do it in front of Olston and he has a history of mental illness and really it’s an open and shut case. Meanwhile, JB and Nancy are chatting about Frank and Korea over lunch when Nancy begs JB for her help – Steve has been arrested and she needs help trying to prove the shady goings on. JB sympathises but she doesn’t know the first thing about the situation or Steve or anything. Nancy tells her she’d do anything, to which JB says of course, any mother would.
Or father, says Nancy. And then she drops a bomb – she and Frank were more than just friends in Korea. Steve is Frank’s son.
Bomb dropped, Jess goes to see her lawyer friend Andrew Dixon who immediately calls bullshit on the whole situation and advises JB to continue on her boss-like way.
Jess isn’t sure though – she feels for Nancy. She decides to call up her old friend Clint Phelps (whom you may remember from here) to ask about Nancy. He vaguely remembers her as a nurse they used to bump into in the Officers Club from time to time but is hazy on details.
JB decides to meet Steven, against Andrew’s advice, just to suss him out. She’s an excellent judge of character after all. They head down to the police station to meet the investigating officer, Barney Claymore, but he’s in a meeting with Ben Olston and Dawn Bickford so they sit down to wait. JB pesters him for information about Nancy but so far all he has been able to do is confirm her discharge date.
Olston and Bickford sashay away, leaving Claymore free to discuss the case against Steven. He tells them that Steven had made threats to blow the site up in front of Olston and his foreman Ron Crockett, and that Crockett saw Steve near the site at the time of the explosion, but they had only come forward now as they hadn’t taken the threats seriously. Andrew is not pleased to hear about the mental health issues but JB insists on seeing Steve anyway. Steve tells them about the shoddy construction job, and how Olston tried to buy him off, but of course he can’t prove any of it. He tells Andrew that even if it takes him the rest of his life he will pay Andrew the lawyers fees. Jess asks him if his father can help, and he tells her his father was shot down over Pusan in Korea.
Jess decides she believes him and sets to finding out more about Olston. She wanders into his office just as he has finished paying off the actual bomber, and declares herself to be a fundraiser for Councilman Axelrod. Olston informs her he already directly contributes directly to the councilman’s campaign through Dawn Bickford, to which JB says she must have the wrong fundraiser list, apologises and leaves. Olston calls Dawn to tell her he’s paid the bomber off and would she like to come round tonight for some more explosions nudge nudge wink wink urgh. He also promises to tell his wife that their marriage is over when she returns the next day.
Later that night, Olston’s wife Cynthia arrives home to find the door open and her husband dead on the floor. I was wondering when we were getting to the murder part.
The next day Jessica goes round to Nancy’s house to ask her about the mental illness the police are going on about. Nancy tells her he struggled when his wife died, but there was no mental illness. Although she did find a gun in the glove compartment of the car that morning. Jess tells Nancy she doesn’t believe Steve is Frank’s son, to which Nancy goes to her desk and retrieves a letter postmarked Maine. From Frank. Offering to do all that he can for Nancy and Steve.
Claymore chooses that moment to show up. He spots the gun on the table and asks Nancy if she has a permit for it, she explains she found it in the car. He tells her he needs to take her in for questioning – an appointment slip was found at the murder scene that said Nancy had an 8pm appointment with Olston. Nancy says she never had an appointment, she just went around there with the report that Steve had compiled to try and talk sense into Olston but it didn’t work so she left the report there and went home. Claymore tells her she should hire a lawyer, fortunately Jess knows a very good one.
Andrew agrees to take on the case, but doesn’t understand why. Jess says she doesn’t think Nancy did it, but Andrew asks her if that’s the only reason. JB says of course it is, anyone could have planted the gun. She asks Andrew to dig into Nancy’s military service more while she goes over to city hall to have a chat with Councilman Axelrod, who refuses to believe shady shenanigans are happening in his office, or that a report from Steve was ever received. He asks Dawn if she remembers seeing such a report and she swears no such report came in.
Axelrod assures JB that she’s mistaken about the whole thing, and she says perhaps but that a report is also missing from the crime scene. On that note she leaves, and Axelrod orders Dawn to find out what’s going on with the investigation.
Meanwhile, JB hops on a plane to Seattle to talk to Clint about Frank’s relationship with Nancy. They meet at a restaurant…
…and JB comes straight to the point. Clint was Frank’s best friend, and she wanted to know the truth.
Clint tells her the truth was they were all terrified they’d be dead in a week, and that some people took comfort where they could. He wasn’t Frank’s confessor. The truth was that Frank loved Jessica.
Back in…wherever the hell she is…Andrew calls Jess to let her know that Nancy received a compassionate discharge because she was unmarried and pregnant. The next day she goes to see Steve to ask him about the report he supposedly gave Councilman Axelrod but he tells her he gave it to Dawn Bickford. JB finds the whole thing suspicious but still doesn’t know how it ties into Olston’s murder. Steve begs her to stay and help release his mother and she promises to do what she can. He hugs her and tells her she’s terrific.
Jessica confides her suspicions to Lieutenant Claymore, who says he’s already under enough pressure from the councilman’s office. Jess wonders if the pressure is coming from Dawn Bickford, and Claymore wonders how she knew? She tells him she saw Dawn in his office the morning after the explosion, and coupled with the fact that Steve says he gave her the report makes her think Dawn’s relationship with Olston was a little more than business.
Claymore confirms that Dawn and Olston were an item. JB is convinced that the gun and the appointment slip were planted to throw suspicion on Nancy, possibly by someone else in the house at the time Nancy came by. JB also mentions the man she saw in Olston’s trailer when she was pretending to fundraise for Axelrod. Claymore wonders if she could identify him in a mug book.
Please. Of course she can.
Claymore and JB go to City Hall to confront Dawn about Steve’s report and the real bomber and she caves, saying she knew about the bombing but she didn’t kill him, she was supposed to go around to his house but she had to work so she called him at about 8pm, and Nancy was already there.
This triggers something in JB’s brain (and my stomach – refer you to the earlier picture of the dessert tray) and she and Claymore go over to the Olston residence.
Sick of her husband’s cheating, Mrs Olston came back from her mother’s early to try and catch him cheating, and was about to give up until she heard Dawn’s phone call saying she couldn’t come over. Then she snapped, killed Ben and planted the evidence on Nancy.
This is the most depressing episode ever.
Case closed, JB catches up with Nancy one last time and Nancy comes clean. She was so desperate about her son that she lied. Frank wasn’t Steve’s father. Steve’s father was a flier in Frank’s squad, a married man, who was shot down and killed. Frank knew about the whole thing and offered to do what he could.
NEVER A DOUBT IN MY MIND.