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S12E01 – Nailed

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Fletcherfans! Welcome to 2019 and welcome to the last season of Murder She Wrote. Who’dve thunk it? Certainly not me, I can barely commit to a hairdresser, but here we are.

SPEAKING OF HAIRDRESSERS! We are back in the Newest of Yorks, where there are cops driving and people abseiling off buildings and running around with bloody knives. You know, the usual. JB is getting her hair and her nails did simultaneously at Antoinette’s on Fifth Avenue, and being treated like the Queen she is. Her hairdresser Jimmy has to rush off to a TV demonstration on Nancy Rayburn’s TV show, leaving the manicurist Diane to deliver the news to JB – Diane and Jimmy are engaged which is all terribly exciting.

My celebratory drink of choice for weddings, engagements, births, making it to the weekend…

Lieutenant Sam Kriley inexplicably wanders into the salon to get a guest list from JB – apparently, all the abseiling and knives and cops was a result of JB’s friend Agnes returning home early from a museum board meeting and surprising a burglar. Kriley is convinced that it’s the work of the same burglar targeting high-end apartments all over Manhattan and that Agnes was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but she will recover.

Jessica bumps into fellow board member Kathy Stafford is also at the salon (clearly they get a group discount) and is a) relieved that Agnes will recover and b) will have the meeting minutes faxed over tomorrow. Jess then runs into fellow mystery writer Steve Burke, who is working in the salon as research for his novel, which JB is loving apparently.

Over at Nancy Rayburn’s TV show, Jimmy runs into Ralph Stafford, who I assume is Kathy’s husband. Jimmy and Ralph are planning to go into business but Jimmy’s getting cold feet and Ralph’s not having a bar of it. Also, Nancy is totally having a fling with Ralph and is ignoring her producer Madelyn Sweetzer’s warnings about how shady he is, even while he’s on the phone being yelled at by business partners.

Back at the salon…

BEHOLD ITS INFINITE MAJESTY

…JB still hasn’t left yet but is giving a big bag of books to the salon owner, the aforementioned Antoinette. Side note, I binged that Marie Kondo show on Netflix and I learned that a) compared to most people I don’t own any clothes at all, and b) KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY BOOKS MARIE. In my defence, I drunkenly counted how many books I owned last year and guys it wasn’t great. But I got rid of like twenty! And bought about forty, look it’s the circle of life whatever it’s fine don’t worry about it.

Anyway, the bag of books is a donation for a school raffle and Antoinette is stoked about it. She’s less stoked about the persistent rumours that Jimmy is leaving her salon, and JB says there’s no proof it’s happening. Antoinette’s still worried though, Jimmy has VIP clients all over the place and if he goes so do they.

Phoebe the receptionist goes on break, leaving Steve to cover the phones and fetch nail polish colours for nail technicians. Nancy swans in for her appointment with Jimmy. She bumps into Kathy Stafford, who tells her that she’s had several discussions with her husband and she’s made it clear that she won’t put up with his fooling around. Nancy says “That’s the hellraiser I knew in college!”

#awkward.

Kathy meets Ralph for lunch at the Cafe Metropole, and he helpfully doesn’t notice her new hairdo. The head waiter at the cafe sends his best wishes to Agnes for a speedy recovery – then gets a phone call from someone in which he says it wasn’t his fault Agnes came home early, they’re just lucky she didn’t see his face. Meanwhile, Ralph gets a prized silver dollar off Kathy to use as collateral to get Jimmy’s hair salon off the ground.

Jess wanders down to the precinct to give Kriley a helpful tip – at least three of the burglary victims were clients at Antoinette’s, there was a good chance that someone there was in on the whole thing. Kriley says thanks, he’s off to chat to Agnes and will drop JB off on the way. Meanwhile, Ralph meets a shady guy off a bus who has made a counterfeit of the silver dollar. He tells Ralph a true collector will spot the fake immediately, and to forget his name.

That night at closing time, Phoebe the receptionist puts Steve in charge of straightening everything up. He checks on Antoinette, who tells him she’ll close up, but needs him to drop a pair of glasses belonging to Nancy Rayburn around to her apartment. Diane warns Jimmy about leaving Antoinette to get involved in Ralph’s shady shenanigans and says he hits on her every time he’s in the salon, to which Jimmy says “Can I blame him?”

ZZZZT. WRONG ANSWER, TRY AGAIN DUMBASS. Antoinette overhears everything and watches them go, gulping what I assume is bourbon. In the car park, Phoebe runs into Ralph who wants her help finding out who is talking Jimmy out of signing the contract. He offers Phoebe (who used to date Jimmy back in the day) the manager role at Jimmy’s salon, and she says she doesn’t know much but she knows someone who might.

Across town, Ralph drops in on Nancy and gives her the silver dollar (code, but also not code) as collateral for a cheque for 400K that she’s giving him. They make out in the doorway for a while before he leaves, not noticing his wife hiding in the corridor crying. Brutal.

Even later that night, Steve drops around Nancy’s place to deliver the glasses and interrupts the burglar stealing the silver dollar. He gets whacked on the head, and the burglar legs it.

The next morning Jessica rolls into the precinct office, the recipient of Steve’s one phone call – the NYPD found him on the floor next to an empty silver dollar box and arrested him for burglary. Old mate is not having a good day. Jess vouches for him and tells Kriley that half of Manhattan new Nancy wasn’t going to be home the previous night. Curiously, there is no mention of the silver dollar in the list of stolen things. Funny that.

Ralph the Creep is at Antoinette’s getting his nails done when he finds out about the burglary and calls Nancy. She tells him she didn’t report the silver dollar being stolen so that Kathy wouldn’t find out about it, but since it’s insured no problem right? Also, she needs new collateral or her 400K back.

Ralph decides to change course and has a little word with Diane about how he thinks she will convince Jimmy to sign the contract. Across town, old mate head waiter has just discovered the coin is a fake, while Jimmy delivers the bad news to Antoinette. He’s off to start his own salon with Ralph.

Ralphy boy is summoned to a meeting with the head waiter, whose name is apparently Billy, who wants 50K or he will tell Kathy and Nancy all about Ralph’s double cross. Ralph laughs and says now that he knows who the Uptown Burglar is he’ll be off to the police thank you very much. Unbeknownst to the pair of them, Nancy’s producer Madelyn Sweetzer is sitting at the next table and hears the whole thing. Good lord this episode is exhausting.

Down at the TV station, Madelyn delivers the news to Nancy, who is stunned – even more so when Madelyn informs her that the show has been cancelled and will finish at the end of the month. Kathy appears to confront her but Madelyn says she’ll meet her at a bar around the corner.

Later that night there’s a party to farewell Jimmy from Antoinette’s salon, but no one really seems that celebratory apart from Wreck-it Ralph. Jimmy and Diane seem nervous, JB is sad, and Kathy Stafford is morose. Antoinette makes an appearance, but storms off after Ralph tells her they could have been partners but these days he likes to have younger, prettier faces around him.

Ralph later went on to become president. I mean, wait, what?

Antoinette bumps into Jess and they commiserate – she misplaces her bag but it turns up on the bar. Steve arrives late, after borrowing a suit from his brother. Ralph gets a note from Jimmy asking to meet him at Antoinette’s after the party. Phoebe arrives just as JB is leaving, and wants to hear about Steve’s book progress.

Cut to Antoinette’s salon, where Jimmy walks into a room and Ralph is dead in a chair, a pair of scissors sticking out of his back. Good riddance.

The next day, Kriley is all over the crime scene – Jimmy doesn’t appear to admit to being in the salon the night before but does admit the scissors are his. Apparently, it was Steve who found the body when he came in to open up. The silver dollar was left on the bench, ruling out a burglary. Steve is getting into the detecting business with Jess and swears there’s something missing from the station where Ralph died.

Outside, Diane confesses to Jimmy that Ralph had the dirt on her – specifically how she made a living when she was kicked out of home aged 16. Jimmy tells her he doesn’t care about that, he likes her now. Better answer Jimmy. Down at the Cafe Metropole Billy gets a call from his partner saying that Ralph’s death meant they were off the hook, but Billy is worried about the silver dollar boxes. Turns out he should be more worried about police taps, Kriley has heard the whole thing. He can’t place the voice on the other end of the call, but Jessica can.

They head down to Antoinette’s and despite her protests of innocence, Phoebe is arrested. Antoinette is also taken downtown when it’s discovered her prints are on the scissors. Jessica thinks this is a weak case, but Kriley is convinced.

Preach it sister.

Kriley is convinced he’s got it all sorted but Jess has other ideas. She recruits Steve to help her set the trap et voila!

This I did not see coming.

Instead of being mad that Ralph treated them both terribly, they teamed up and murdered him. Fair play really. Something to do with non-matching nail polish that I missed because I started googling my family tree.

Anyway. Onwards!

Later gang!

 

S09E08 – The Classic Murder

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Back in the Big Apple Fletcherfans, where our Heroine is going out to dinner with her editor Sally Wilson and Sally’s father Buck. Buck is a squillionaire who has just bought a steakhouse chain and is contemplating buying the publishing company where Sally works (much to Sally’s horror).

JB remembers the steakhouse and is excited to go, but is rather taken aback by Buck’s changes.

I had a similar experience the first time I went to Outback Steakhouse, followed by an uncontrollable bout of giggling.

JB is soon introduced to Sally’s uncle Geroge and aunt Janine, and her father Buck who is exactly how you’d expect.

Unless you were thinking about Uncle Buck, which is reasonable because that movie was awesome.

Buck asks his brother in law if he remembered to ship his Cadillac out to the car show in Pasadena and George says he sure did but can they have a word? Apparently Buck’s company is about to be investigated for corporate shenanigans and George is worried but Buck says he has nothing to hide. He leaves George to get hand fed by a waitress/cowgirl (much to Janine’s disapproval) and takes Jess to meet the restaurant’s gimmick star, the psychic Marika Valenti. Apparently she and Jess have a lot in common, Marika uses her abilities to solve crimes too.

I think Jessica begs to disagree on this point.

Buck decides he’s a bit weary and tells Jess and his daughter that he’s going to get the driver to take him home to Westchester. Sally and JB decide to get a propery dinner somewhere less insane, but bump into Sally’s brother BJ who is trying to find his father. He rushes off after Buck, and Jess and Sally make their escape.

Back at House Buck, Buck is making a nightcap for two when the housekeeper, Mrs Oates wanders in. He’s surprised to see her, thinking she would be visiting a friend in Poughkeepsie but she tells him her friend got sick. She’s surprised to see him, as she thought that he was staying in the city but he tells her he changed his mind, he was tired. She offers to bring his nightcap and snack upstairs for him but he insists on doing it himself. After she leaves he finishes pouring the second glass of whisky (considerably less than the other one, stingy bastard) and goes upstairs.

Later that night George and Janine arrive back at House Buck and all is clearly well.

Such romance.

Janine is still rather peeved about her husband’s efforts with the waitress, and George is just miffed in general. She tells him to keep his voice down but he says they are the only ones here, Buck’s getting busy in town.

The next morning Mrs Oates goes to check on Buck but he’s nowhere to be found. Janine pops in and is concerned to see the state of Buck’s bathroom, more so when she finds a cigarette butt with lipstick on it. SCANDALOUS.

Back in the city, Jess and Sally are working on edits for Sally’s next book when BJ calls looking for Sally. He tells her Buck has gone missing, so JB and Sally jet on out to Westchester to see what’s up. Mrs Oates lets them in, saying BJ is out back with his friend and local cop Tom Jarrow interviewing Buck’s driver Carl Graham. Unfortunately for BJ and Tom Carl knows nothing and saw nothing, and when he opens the garage for them there’s not a car missing.

Spoiler alert, Tom is a bit of an early 90s dreamboat.

Sah dreamy.

BJ wants a word with George about business, and they excuse themselves. Tom tells JB and Sally that they couldn’t get much out of Carl, but that he swears that Buck came home alone. Janine appears and says that there was definitely evidence Buck was with a woman last night, and Sally wonders if it was the waitress from the restaurant. Tom says he’ll look into it and leaves.

BJ and George have a heated debate when George finds out BJ has been sniffing around the company accounts but BJ tells him it was serious – they are about to be investigated and there’s 150 million dollars missing, and now Buck is missing too.

A knock at the door is answered by Janine and Jessica – it’s Marika, who had a terrible premonition that something had happened to Buck. She understands now why Buck wanted her to meet JB, he knew they would have to work together to solve his disappearance.

No time.

Marika gets to psychic work, leaving JB to explain what she’s doing to Janine. She latches on to a photo and declares that Buck is dead, just as Jessica finds a bloody sheet under the bed. Janine screams.

Marika decides to hold some sort of psychic conclave (in the lanai, so presumably the Golden Girls are coming too) and sends JB to gather the troops. She finds Mrs Oates in the kitchen with Carl the chauffeur. Mrs Oates is excited to witness Marika at work, but Carl refuses and storms out.

In the lanai (turns out lanai means porch, guys I’m learning all the time), Marika tells the story of Buck’s demise in suspicious detail, including mention of a witness. She asks Jess if that’s enough for her to solve the case and Jess asks her if that’s all she knows.

Jess is leaving this one to the psychic

Marika then says Buck’s body was thrown in a well. Sally loses it and says she’s had enough of this nonsense and storms out. BJ has a theory of what Marika is talking about and takes Rob into Buck’s study to show him a picture of Buck’s first oil well. Rob points out it’s in Oklahoma and that the private jet isn’t missing, but he thinks BJ thinks Buck isn’t dead. BJ says yes but won’t go into why.

JB has a quiet chat with Marika after the performance, to ask her about her previous experience solving cases with her mind powers. Marika says it was with Scotland Yard but doesn’t go into details. She announces she has a headache and goes outside.

You guys I really think JB doesn’t like Marika.

As Marika departs Sally comes in to apologise for running out. Jess tells her she nearly went with her, and asks her if there are any old maps of the property. Sally says there are, but she checked and there are no old wells on the property. Jess gets a magnifying glass and finds something interesting on the map. She tells Sally to call Tom, they’ll meet him there in the morning.

The next day, Tom tells Sally that the waitress from the restaurant went home to her husband after her shift, she wasn’t having an affair with Buck. Jess finds what she was looking for and gets Tom to lift the cement. They find Marika’s body at the bottom of the pit, dead from a gunshot.

Jess takes about five minutes to formulate a theory. She’s convinced that Marika was the woman in the house the night Buck disappeared, and she thinks Carl knew it. They pay him a visit in his apartment next to the garage and find him packing his bags, about to leg it. He admits Marika was in the car when he drove Buck up the night he disappeared and he was meant to drive her back to town the next morning but that she asked him to drop her at a motel instead. Tom orders Carl be read his rights and taken to the police station and Jess excuses herself to go and make a phone call. Outside, she runs into Sally and BJ arguing. Sally is outraged at BJ’s theory that Buck didn’t die, he ran off with the missing 150 million.

Later that afternoon Tom pops in to check on Sally, but Mrs Oates tells him Sally isn’t feeling well. This turns out to be under orders from Sally who doesn’t want to see anyone. An emotional Mrs Oates runs into George, who is concerned about her. Mrs Oates is just devastated by the whole business, including the idea that BJ has about Buck running off with money. George tells her not to worry, he’s sure Buck will walk in the door any minute.

JB gets on the phone with her friend Inspector Mores Scotland Yard, who tells her Marika Valenti was a blackmailer who pretended to be a psychic to get dirt on her victims. JB is delighted to hear it. She runs into Sally again but Sally is determined to leave the house and go back to New York. Jess won’t have a bar of it, and instead wants to hear about BJ and Tom’s old hiding places. They go back to the garage and find Buck’s body in the back seat of one of his cars.

I mean they can’t have done much of a search to begin with *cough cough*

Tom thinks finding Buck’s body in the garage seals the case against Carl, but Jess isn’t so sure – Carl didn’t have a motive, there’s no evidence he knew about the missing money and even if he did they never found a trace of it. She suddenly remembers Buck’s plan to ship his car to a car show in Pasadena and gets Tom to track down the shipping company. When he calls them it turns out the car has changed destination and is now going to be shipped to Rio Di Janeiro.

Later that afternoon George gets a phone call from the shipping company, saying there’s been a delay – the car needs to be searched by customs before it goes down south. That night, the killer breaks into the shipping company to retrieve his money…

George seems to be the only person surprised by this.

It’s the classic tale – man gets busted embezzling money, kills man to stop from being discovered, kills fraud psychic blackmailer to stop from being discovered/blackmailed.

Case closed! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Doctor Who to watch.

Later gang!

S07E03 – See You In Court, Baby

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It’s a dark dark night in San Francisco (probably) and a man is breaking into a large expensive house to steal a very expensive car from his (presumably) soon to be ex-wife.

Why does this matter, I hear you ask? Because Our Heroine would like to take some time out of her busy day to talk to you about the sanctity of marriage, to wit: young people just don’t take it seriously any more.

*coughs* Elizabeth Taylor but *coughs*

This whole pep talk, is Jess’s way of saying STORYTIME KIDS, I’M TAKING A WEEK OFF. It’s time to talk about Truman Calloway, aka this guy:

IMDB says this is Roebt Reed, aka Mike Brady. I say it's lying.

IMDB says this is Robert Reed, aka Mike Brady. I say it’s lying.

As it so happens Truman is on the phone to the woman I mentioned earlier whose ex-husband made off with her car and (as it turns out) pushed it off a cliff. Oh, rich people problems. Truman advises her not to go to the police, instead contact her insurance company directly. He’s actually in the middle of a very important meeting with a new client, a man who wants to divorce his wife (a Greenleaf of the Wisconsin Greenleafs for those playing along) but only wants a lump sum of about 3-5 million, of which he’d give Truman about 10%. Truman tells him he mispronouncing a third, and says he’s not sure he wants to take the case. It’s a lot easier to put neglected wives on the stand than fortune-hunting beach bums.

Meanwhile, the woman, Amy Sue, has taken Truman’s advice and gone straight to her insurance company, where she sits in the office of the claims investigator and bawls her eyes out, much to the claims investigator’s confusion.

Oh Dennis.

Oh Dennis.

Dennis promises to take a look at the case, mainly to get the crying woman (who has confessed to only taking the car in the divorce settlement to try and make her ex husband Ed not want the divorce any more) out of his office. He goes to have a chat with Ed the car thief, who has a lot to say on the subject of divorce lawyers but agrees to write a cheque covering the cost of the car for his ex-wife. Job done.

Back at Truman’s office, Truman is just ducking out for a lunch meeting when he bumps into his newest fiancee, Joyce, back from an acting audition and demanding to talk. He tells her he is late for his lunch meeting so she hops into his limo while from up in the office, Truman’s secretary Karen watches it all unfold. In the car, Joyce is unhappy about signing a pre-nup, but Truman tells her it’s the same pre-nup all his ex-wives get – 10 grand a month and a million dollar insurance policy. All his ex-wives except his first one, Charmaine, who only got 250 grand but Truman was poor then. Joyce thinks Truman doesn’t love anything except his money, but Truman tells her he was in love, once, though he didn’t know it at the time.

Cold.

At lunch, Truman goes over the divorce settlement of a couple of actors with the lawyer for the husband, former cop Joe Briscoe. It’s Joe’s first big settlement and he’s concerned that Truman is trying to screw him out of a big payday. He tells Truman that if the settlement doesn’t go through, he’s coming for Truman. Truman is unconcerned, he’s heard it all before.

“Not from me,” says Joe, who storms off.

Before Truman can call for the cheque, a woman sits down in Joe’s seat. It’s his first ex-wife, Charmaine.

Still refuse to believe that's Mike Brady though

Still refuse to believe that’s Mike Brady though

Charmaine tells him she’s been going to phone for some time, but it was too important. She needs to talk to Truman about Jason.

Later that night, a security guard patrolling Truman’s law office sees an open door, goes to investigate and finds Truman on the floor stabbed to death.

There’s a shock.

The next morning, Dennis the menace is on his way to work when he hears news of the murder on the radio. At his office, his secretary Rhoda tells him Amy Sue is waiting for him in his office. Amy Sue is worried – Ed turned up drunk at the house the previous night, telling her he still loved her and that they only weren’t together because of Truman Calloway and declares he is going to find Truman Calloway and kill him. Amy Sue called Ed at work that morning but the police had already been and arrested him and Dennis did say if there was anything he could do…

“Yes I did say that.” Says Dennis, thoughtfully. “In an offhand sort of way.”

Down at the police station, Lieutenant Catalano (previously seen here) is outlining the case to a claims investigator from New York, Marcia McPhee (aka Kira from Star Trek Deep Space Nine). As Marcia leaves, Dennis’ presence is announced to Catalano, who informs the desk sergeant that he doesn’t have time for insurance investigators and to tell Dennis to write him a letter.

Downstairs, Marcia bumps into Dennis who is delighted to see her – Marcia assumes Dennis is there to hand himself in for a theft and is flabbergasted when he informs her that he’s a claims investigator now (as part of his probation). He’s keen to drill Marcia for information but she’s not having a bar of it – though she does tell him that she doesn’t think Ed killed Truman, her money is on the first ex-wife Charmaine.

Dennis sees Ed, who tells him he did go and see Truman to punch his lights out but when he got there Truman was already dead, face down on the floor. He turned him over, which must have been when he got blood on his hand but he didn’t kill him. He offers to sign the release form for the car, but Dennis tells him that can wait, and that Dennis is there at the request of Amy Sue who firmly believes in Ed’s innocence and that it’s a pity the way their marriage worked out.

Naww.

Dennis’s next stop is Truman’s law office, where he runs into Joe Briscoe coming out. Inside, Truman’s secretary Karen is confused by Dennis’s questions as she’s just given all the information to Marcia McPhee. Dennis concocts a story about Marcia’s purse being stolen and requiring a duplicate copy, and Karen sighs and starts compiling.

The old Stanton charm.

The old Stanton charm.

Dennis puts Rhoda to work on trying to find out who Truman had seen in the 48 hours prior to his death and returns to the restaurant where Truman had lunch with Joe Briscoe. For the price of 2 Andrew Jacksons, Dennis finds out from a waiter that Joe threatened Truman and that Charmaine had sat down to talk to Truman after Joe left. In an amazing coincidence, Charmaine is just leaving the restaurant at that second, so Dennis turns the charm on again helped by a pair of ladies gloves that he borrows from a passing table. The subterfuge doesn’t work but Charmaine does agree to have a coffee with Dennis, much to the annoyance of Marcia who is scoping them out from a phone box nearby.

Later that night, Dennis arrives home to find flashlights moving around in his office. He sneaks inside and catches the culprit.

e1 e2

CRYING. BEST LINE EVER.

CRYING. BEST LINE EVER.

In the true spirit of generosity, Dennis tells Marcia what Charmaine’s conversation with Truman was about – her son, Jason, who needs money to go to medical school. Predictably, Truman shot that down, and Charmaine claims that was the last time she ever saw him. In the spirit of team work Dennis offers to team up with Marcia, since they both have the same goal of proving Ed innocent but Marcia want’s no part of that.

The next morning Dennis is sitting down to breakfast when he gets a visit from Joe Briscoe, who is less than pleased that Dennis has been asking questions about him. He tries to stand up to Dennis who promptly takes his gun off him and wants to know why Joe went to see Truman’s secretary Karen. It would seem that it was to try and poach clients, but as it turns out that Karen was Truman’s between-wives girlfriend.

At work, Rhoda fills Dennis in on her investigations from the list. She’s managed to track everyone down except a ‘Johnny Trixler’ from Wisconsin, who met Truman to divorce his wife, the Greenleaf. Except there is no such person as Johnny Trixler or a family called Greenleaf.

I think we all know where this is going. Cut to Charmaine’s hotel room, where she gets an unexpected visit from her son Jason, aka Johnny Trixler who tells her they didn’t need Truman then and they don’t need him now. He just flew in from O’Hara an hour ago.

Armed with a copy of Jason’s photo, Dennis pays Jason and Charmaine a visit at the hotel and confirms that Karen identified Jason as Johnny Trixler. Jason confesses to going to see Truman but swears he didn’t kill him. The police turn up and take both mother and son away for questioning, thanks to a tip-off from Marcia who considers the case closed.

A chance spotting of a newspaper article at work sends Dennis on the right track. He goes to see Karen the secretary, and tells her he can prove she was at work at the time of the murder. In response, she reaches for her bag but Dennis steps in.

There's nothing that umbrella can't do

There’s nothing that umbrella can’t do

Oh dear.

Oh dear.

The classic tale. Karen got sick of being Truman’s thing on the side, and when he chose Joyce over her she took matters into her own hands.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Murder She Blogged Epic Tweetathon Part The Third: A Story To Die For. Follow the hashtag #MSBStory on Twitter and see what fresh nonsense I can come up with!

But I'll see you tomorrow first!

But I’ll see you tomorrow first!