Murder, She Wrote 8.15 “Tinker, Tailor, Liar, Thief”

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Jessica Fletcher is in jolly old England for some meetings with her publisher. After getting all those meetings out of the way, she decides to stay on to do some tourism and to meet up with her friend John from the US embassy. After stumbling upon a dead body in the hotel suite next to hers, Jessica investigates when the body mysteriously disappears before the police arrive.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Nigel Atkins, an MI5 agent (and double agent for the Chinese government)!
Click to reveal the killer It was Daisy Collins, the victim’s neighbor!
Click to reveal the weapon The victim was stabbed through the heart with a “slender bladed knife”!
Click to reveal the location His body was found in the hotel suite next to Jessica’s!
Click to reveal the motive When Daisy learned that he had a pile of money with him, she killed him in order to take the money and use it to better her own life!

Cast of characters:

Some people Jessica meets at her hotel in London:

  • Lloyd Bochner plays John Thurston, Jessica’s friend who works at the American Embassy. This is Bochner’s third and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “Deadpan“.
  • Clement von Franckenstein plays Nigel Atkins, a mysterious man that John Thurston introduces Jessica to when they run into each other at the hotel. (Turns out he was a double agent for MI5 and China)
  • Peter Dennis plays Albert, the hotel desk clerk.

In the course of her investigation, Jessica first meets some law men and private investigators:

  • Nick Tate plays Inspector Stillwell of Scotland Yard. This is Tate’s first of two total appearances on MSW.
  • Sandy Allison plays MacPherson, Inspector Stillwell’s partner (who, as far as I was able to tell, was only given a name in the credits and was never named on screen).
  • Elizabeth Anne Smith plays a Policewoman at the station.
  • Kenneth Danziger plays Archie Potter, a private investigator working for Edward Cadwell. This is Danziger’s second and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “Sing a Song of Murder” (where he also played a character named Archie).

Further on in the episode, Jessica meets some people involved with MI5:

  • Sharon Maughan plays Penelope Cadwell, a woman who was having an affair with Nigel.
  • Richard Davies plays Edward Cadwell, Penelope’s husband. This is Davies’ second and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “Sing a Song of Murder”.
  • Trevor Eve plays Julian Fontaine, who publicly introduces himself as a “consultant” for the home office and who distinctly invites Jessica to his party.
  • Guy Doleman plays Corsair, someone who appears to be one of the higher-ups at MI5. This is Doleman’s last ever on-screen appearance.

In the course of her investigation, Jessica also meets some members of the lower classes:

  • Derrick O’Connor plays Mickey Dawks, who introduces himself as a “businessman” but who’s basically a loanshark who loaned money to Nigel Atkins.
  • Kim Braden plays Daisy Collins, Nigel Atkins’ neighbour.
  • Diana Webster plays the Landlady at Nigel Atkins’ building. This is Webster’s last ever on-screen appearance.

We also see a couple of witnesses who later turn out to be staff of Julian Fontaine. The man is played by Laurie Main. The woman did not have a speaking role and so she is uncredited.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

The episode features a couple of allusions to political thrillers in popular fiction:

  • The title of the episode is an allusion to the “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief”, which itself was alluded to in the John Le Carre novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
  • It is mentioned that Jessica and John plan on going to “the new Stephen Sondheim musical”. Some people (e.g. contributors to IMDb) have suggested that the musical in question is likely Assassins, which features various US president assassinations as its subject matter. It was originally produced off-Broadway from December 1990 until February 1991. Subsequently, after some revisions, it had a run in London from October 1992 until January 1993. However, because this episode aired on March 1, 1992 (well before the London production), I’m not entirely sure this play is exactly what the writers had in mind.

Finally, I found it interesting that Sharon Maughan (who played Penelope Cadwell in this episode) and Trevor Eve (who played Julian Fontaine) are married in real life.

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