This is yet another “bookend” episode and I’m surprised that the network execs decided to air two of them in a row (with the previous one being “Murder–According to Maggie“. This time, Jessica Fletcher receives a card from her very Irish NYPD friend, Lt. O’Malley, who tells her about a case that he and his rookie niece recently solved.
Just the facts:
Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.
Click to reveal the victimIt was Gretchen Trent, Roland Trent’s wife!
Click to reveal the killerIt was Cindy Marsh, Roland Trent’s mistress!
Click to reveal the weaponGretchen was hit with a heavy bookend!
Click to reveal the locationShe was found dead in their penthouse suite before being tossed off the balcony by her husband, who wanted to make it look like a suicide!
Click to reveal the motiveCindy wanted to be with Roland and was angry at Gretchen for refusing to leave him!
Cast of characters:
One group of characters revolves around Jessica’s police officer friend and his co-workers:
- Pat Hingle plays Lieutenant James Ignatius O’Malley, Jessica Fletcher’s friend. This is Hingle’s second of three total appearances on MSW. Hingle is known for portraying Commissioner Gordon in the Batman movies.
- Stacy Edwards plays Frances Xavier Rawley, O’Malley’s niece. This is Edwards’ first of two total appearances on MSW.
- Philip Sterling plays Captain Sam Cohen, the chief officer at O’Malley’s precinct.
- Jay Acovone plays Detective Sergeant Vinnie Grillo, another police officer at the precinct. This is Acovone’s first of three total appearances on the MSW TV series. He also appeared in the Murder, She Wrote movie “A Story to Die For”.
- Howard Schecter plays Detective Rush, yet another police officer at the precinct. This is Schecter’s second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble“.
The case that has the police stumped involves the owner of Trent Real Estate Company and his social circle.
- Ron Leibman plays Roland Trent, a property billionaire, who owns his own skyscraper. This is Leibman’s first of two total appearances on MSW.
- Eileen Barnett plays Gretchen Trent, Roland’s wife.
- Pamela Bowen plays Cindy Marsh, Roland’s secretary and mistress.
- Carolyn Seymour plays Alice Montrose, Gretchen’s secretary. This is Seymour’s second of three total appearances on MSW. She previously appeared in “It Runs in the Family“.
- Nicholas Pryor plays David Kingston, Roland’s attorney. This is Pryor’s second of three total appearances on MSW.
- James Carroll as Paul G Abbott, the New York City Deputy Mayor’s Aide. This is Abbott’s fourth and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Just Another Fish Story“.
- Francesca P. Roberts as Ruth, the Mayor’s Aide’s secretary.
Additional cast members include several people playing reporters: Tiiu Leek (her first of two appearances); Valerie Redding; Brian Avery (his second and final appearance); and Steve Whiteford.
Final thoughts and other trivia:
There are a couple of things of note about this “bookend” episode. The first is that unlike previous bookend episodes, although Jessica introduces the story, she doesn’t feature at the end of the episode to provide a recap. In many of the previous bookend episodes, she also often pops up before or after scheduled commercial breaks to provide commentary. This was not the case in this one. I haven’t been watching too closely for this, but it was certainly the case that she featured more prominently in the previous bookend episode “Murder–According to Maggie“.
The second thing of note are possible inspirations for the characters in the story. Some fans have noted that the character of Roland Trent is perhaps meant to be a reference to Donald Trump. Their names are certainly similar. And they are both property billionaires that own their own skyscrapers. In early 1990, when this episode first aired, Trump’s business ventures hadn’t yet filed for bankruptcy.
Finally, this episode offers a clue to Jessica Fletcher’s date of birth. The card that she receives from O’Malley at the beginning of the episode is actually a belated birthday card! The episode aired on March 25th, which suggests her birthday was earlier that month.