Murder, She Wrote 9.7 “Sugar & Spice, Malice & Vice”

This episode is set in San Francisco where Michael Hagarty is up to his usual hijinks — this time spying on a company called AG Financial Corp., which is planning a merger with the Mainland Hong Kong Bank. Meanwhile, Jessica Fletcher arrives in town for a book convention and as usual gets sucked into Michael’s caper after he surprises her with her hotel room booking.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Paul Marlow, the executive vice president of AG Financial Corp!
Click to reveal the killer It was Laura Downing, an employee of AG Financial Corp working under Paul Marlow!
Click to reveal the weapon It was Michael Hagarty’s gun!
Click to reveal the location It was in the maintenance storage area of the hotel!
Click to reveal the motive The killer wanted the diskette with incriminating information about the Mainland Hong Kong Bank that the victim had. It was actually the killer who dug up the information found on the diskette, and she was angry that the victim was planning on using it for his personal gain.
Click to reveal the major clue The killer behaved suspiciously when she asked about company papers that the victim may have had and yet didn’t care to search for them after arriving at the hotel room!

Cast of characters:

Jessica’s involvement in the plot stems from her friend Michael Hagarty’s investigations:

  • Len Cariou plays Michael Hagarty, Jessica’s long-time MI6 friend. This is Cariou’s seventh and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “The List of Yuri Lermentov“.
  • Kim Johnston Ulrich plays Andrea Cromwell, Micheal’s daughter(!) This is Ulrich’s first of two appearances on MSW.
  • Kevin Kilner plays Paul Marlow, Andrea’s fiance and the executive vice president of AG Financial Corp who is in charge of the Hong Kong merger. This is Kilner’s first of two appearances on MSW.
  • James Shigeta plays Luc Li, the “owner” of the Mainland Hong Kong Bank. This is Shigeta’s second and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “The Corpse Flew First Class”.

There are also several additional characters with ties to AG Financial Corp:

  • Efrem Zimbalist Jr. plays Adam Quatrain, an ex-congressman and owner of the company. This is Zimbalist’s third and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “Hannigan’s Wake” and “The Last Flight of the Dixie Damsel“.
  • Lenore Kasdorf plays Cynthia Quatrain, Adam’s wife. This is Kasdorf’s fourth and final appearance on MSW; she previously appeared in “Steal Me a Story“.
  • Donna Bullock plays Laura Downing, an employee who works under Paul Marlow.
  • Gary Hollis plays Brad Filmore, Adam Quatrain’s attorney and the company’s “point-man in Washington”. This is Hollis’s second and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “The Prodigal Father“.

Additional characters in the story are members of law enforcement and hotel staff:

  • James Handy plays Lieutenant Pat Hogan, in charge of the murder investigation.
  • Beau Starr plays Charlie Bennet, an ex-cop and the head of hotel security. This is Starr’s second and final appearance on MSW.
  • Patricia Idlette plays a Desk Person at the hotel.
  • Steve Tschudy plays a Bartender at the hotel lounge. This is Tschudy’s second and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “Doom with a View“.

There are also two uncredited security guards with speaking parts — one at the AG Financial Corp building and one at the police lockup. Both of these guards get punched by Michael Hagarty at some point in the episode, so I assume that they were members of the stunt team.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

This episode is, of course, significant for being the final episode to feature Michael Hagarty. I like to imagine that, now that he has been reunited with his daughter, he has finally left his spying job behind and this is why we don’t see Jessica getting roped into his adventures in later seasons.

One thing that I obsessed over while watching this episode is trying to figure out the filming locations. I noticed at one point Jessica and Michael walking with a street sign indicating the way to “Golden Gate Bridge” and “Bay Bridge” behind them. This got me a bit excited because Angela Lansbury didn’t go out of her way to shoot on location — at least not in the later seasons — so could it be that this was actually filmed in San Francisco? Well, after gathering clues from other building and street signs visible in the background, it turns out my excitement was unfounded. The street that Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou are actually walking down is W 7th Street in Los Angeles, between New Hampshire Ave. and S Catalina St.

The building in front of which they are shot at is the Chancellor Hotel in Los Angeles. Not included in the collage above is a shot of the car driving away in front of the Windsor Apartment across the street. (It was that scene which had the street number “3198” and the name “Windsor” visible on the building which allowed me to figure out the filming location.)

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