Queens Of Mystery (2019) s01e01 Episode Script

In The Dark - First Chapter

Although not officially declared an orphan until her 10th birthday, Matilda Stone lost her mother three days, three hours, and three minutes into her third year.
She would later tell of feeling the invisible cord all children share with their mother suddenly snapping and of how, even at the tender age of three years, three days, three hours, and three minutes old, she was sure she would never see her mother alive again.
Despite the tragedy, Matilda grew up well cared for and well loved by her mother's three crime-writing sisters Jane Study hard.
Cat Remember Anyone starts, make sure you land the first punch.
And Beth Stone.
Tuna pasta bake Your favorite.
Moving regularly between aunts, Matilda especially enjoyed living above her Aunt Jane's crime bookshop, Murder Ink.
At night, she would sneak downstairs, take a book at random, and read by torchlight until dawn.
From Allingham to Zimler, and every author in between, Matilda's childhood was spent devouring her aunt's library of crime fiction.
So it was no surprise when, aged 18, Matilda left her childhood home of Wildemarsh to join the police.
However, the mystery of her mother's disappearance never left her.
How and why she vanished, and who if anyone Was responsible, has never been established.
And as Matilda returned to Wildemarsh in her mother's beloved car, she pondered the few known facts of the case The haiku scribbled in her mother's hand on the blackboard of Matilda's nursery.
The smoldering Bulgarian cigarette found in the ashtray of her mother's car.
The solitary black feather discovered in her mother's safe deposit box.
All of these things might or might not be connected or may or may not lead to the solving of the riddle that has haunted Matilda since childhood.
A riddle she one day hopes to solve.
Matilda Stone reporting for duty.
Matilda! Terry Foster.
You were friends with my sister Kate.
It had been 12 years, two months, three days, and 16 hours since Police Constable Foster first laid eyes on Matilda Stone, and the flame ignited by that first encounter still burned bright.
I'm sorry, I don't remember.
No, no, no, c-course not.
There's no reason for you to.
So, uh It's P.
Foster now, anyways.
- And you're? - Detective sergeant.
Which means I'll be working under you.
Beneath you! Withyou.
Well, I'd better get the inspector.
You're late, Stone.
My office.
Don't sit.
I won't lie, Sergeant.
You weren't my first choice for this position.
In fact you weren't in my top 10.
Now, I see you were born in Wildemarsh.
Yes, sir.
My aunts brought me up.
- The Stone sisters? - You know them? They've offered me their services.
- Writing? - Detecting.
I'm sure they only meant the best.
You shouldn't need me to tell you, Sergeant There's no place for the amateur sleuth in modern policing.
What Inspector Thorne wanted to say next was I've loved your Aunt Jane from afar for 25 years, and I can't bring myself to be near her for fear of making a fool of myself.
But what he chose to say was We're the police, and under no circumstances do we require the help of three meddling aunts.
- Do I make myself clear? - Perfectly, sir.
Unpack your things.
Your shift starts in 15 minutes.
But Aunt Beth's been nominated for an award, and I was hoping I'll go unpack.
The award in question was the prestigious Golden Pick-Axe for best crime writer of the year the culmination of Hiddledean Castle's 15th Wildemarsh Crime Writers' Festival an annual celebration of crime fiction and a place where the great and the good of the crime-writing world get the opportunity to meet their fans and promote their wares.
Although Beth Stone's series following the criminal investigations of inner-city vicar Iris Freeman were the most successful of the three sisters' novels Cat Stone's acclaimed Roxanne Parker graphic novels about a kick-ass music-industry fixer and Jane Stone's offbeat Henry Lambert books about an android police detective were more than able to hold their own in such exalted company.
Oh, I do hope you win.
Well, it's an honor just to be nominated.
Said the loser.
Besides, the smart money's on the reclusive Benjamin Kingston.
Rumor has it Lady H.
has promised him the Golden Pick-Axe just for turning up to the festival.
Can she do that? Well, who do you think picks the winner? And it is in this exalted company that the cash-strapped founder of the Wildemarsh Crime Writers' Festival and eponymous owner of Hiddledean Castle, Lady Antonia Hiddledean, once again finds herself hosting a Q and A with this year's Golden Pick-Axe Award nominees.
Our esteemed authors Oscar Prescott Isabella Wolfe Benjamin Kingston and last but not least, Wildemarsh's very own Beth Stone.
I'm sure the audience would love to know how you get your ideas for your novels.
Maybe you should take this one, Isabella.
I mean, I for one, I would be fascinated to learn how you came up with the idea for your latest novel.
What's it called again? "Death on the High Seas"? It's It's "Murder on the Mary Rose.
" You don't sound sure.
Well, to answer your original question, it came to me in a flash.
Came to you in an envelope with your name on it, more like.
Oh, well, why don't you tell us a bit about your inspiration, Oscar.
Now, how many Charlie Palmer novels have there been? - Is it 21? - It's 23.
Oh, 23, how marvelous.
As my slightly overenthusiastic assistant correctly states, there have been 23, and this "Brown Bread," is soon to be number 24.
Oh! Yeah, yeah, it's, um It's based on a real-life incident that, coincidentally enough, happened right here at Hiddledean Castle.
And it's your mother I have to thank for it, Antonia.
If the baroness hadn't given me access to your excellent library last summer, I should have never uncovered the story.
What's it about, Oscar? Uh, sorry, sorry, but my agent, who's sitting right there has given me strict instructions not to discuss the plot until I deliver the manuscript.
No, no, we must respect an author's right to privacy.
Please, Oscar.
Well, all right, I suppose I can tell you a little bit about it.
So, it's 1963.
It's the Summer of Love.
Every new novel about Cockney gumshoe Charlie Palmer created a literary buzz.
Stately home of hippie aristocrat Baron Tollage, where our hero, Charlie Palmer, is caught up in a case involving the baron and his current crop of sycophants and hangers-on.
And this latest installment was no exception.
48 hours earlier, a stray bullet, originally destined for the heart of an unwitting pigeon found itself embedded in the neck of an entirely different quarry Baron Tollage's chum Lord Grint.
I'm like one of them pigs our French cousins use to find truffles.
I get me nose dirty.
Everyone thought Lord Grint's death was an unfortunate accident, but Charlie's investigations led him to conclude that he was in fact murdered by someone in this very room.
Oh, I'm so sorry! Oh, gosh, I really am sorry, but I'm afraid I hate to interrupt you when you're in full flow, Oscar No, do believe me, I really do But I'm afraid we've run out of time.
So why don't we show our appreciation to our four Golden Pick-Axe nominees.
Bravo and four hurrahs to to all of you.
Now, we have the award presentation at 7:00 this evening, and I am very much looking forward to you all joining me there.
Thank you so much.
Tobias Young Benjamin Kingston's agent.
I'm a guest of the festival.
Would you mind signing in? Although blessed with good health and good looks, literary agent Tobias Young had considerably less luck in other areas of his life.
Luck that, if nothing else, was at least consistent.
Oh, and if anyone asks, I'm not here.
Well, there was a mini bar last year.
It's very disappointing.
Hello, Guy Ashton.
There's a phone call for me.
Yes, Mr.
Thank you.
- Hello, John.
- Guy.
Yes, sorry, my battery ran out.
Has he signed? No, no, Oscar hasn't signed the contract yet.
I showed it to him, and he told me where to stick it.
Well, Guy, we really need to move this forward, You know that.
No, I know.
I know time's running out.
I want it on my desk first thing tomorrow morning.
Well No more delay.
Do you understand me, Guy? As soon as it's done.
Ah! Your coffee Can I have it, please? Thank you.
You're very kind.
- Is everything okay, Mr.
Young? - You know what? I think it's going to be.
"To my dear friend, Cat, who stuck by me through thick and thin.
" And just how thick arethings? Half a million in sales, three weeks at the top of the charts and a Golden Pick-Axe nomination.
- And they said I was finished.
- You were.
You haven't seen Beth, have you? No.
Isabella! Max! - Ha ha! Mwah! - Mwah! Mwah! Aren't you going to introduce me? Cat, Maximilian Sinclair, Sinclair Publishing.
Max, Cat Stone.
I had a poster of your band on my wall throughout my formative years.
You must have been a very late developer.
What are you doing here, Max? I thought you hated literary festivals.
I do.
You wouldn't catch me dead at one of these dreary events.
But Oscar insisted I attend.
And, well, when your best-selling author says jump, a humble publisher can only ask, "How high?" But we'd agreed you were gonna sign today.
Yeah, well, you know, I need more time to think about it.
I don't have more time.
I've made promises to people.
I assume you're talking about the people who bust your arm? How much do you owe them this time? Look, I've been with Guy since Cambridge.
The least I can do is offer him a chance to improve his terms.
Whatever they are, I'll beat them.
I know.
Beth? The figures are correct.
I've had them verified.
So What do you want? I'm making some changes to my life, Max.
Taking back control.
Beth? Take them down as soon as you can.
- Very good, m'lady.
- And then you can feed the dogs.
Oh! Everything okay, Benjamin? I'm looking for Emily.
Oscar's P.
? Well, she's around somewhere.
Find Oscar, and you'll find Emily.
You'd be nothing without me, you ungrateful cur! I made you! So I should just blindly accept whatever miserly terms you see fit to impose? Yes! Oh.
- Oh, for God's sake.
- Tablets.
Yes, yes.
Give it to me, give it to me, give it to me.
- See what you've done? - It's hardly my bloody fault.
S-S-Steady on, Oscar.
"S-S-Steady on, Oscar.
" You've not changed, have you, Benji? Always standing up for the little people.
- Oscar, are you busy? - Oh Back off, Tobias! Oscar's my client.
- I just - Not now, Tobias.
- Look, I need - I said not now! God! You people are killing me with your constant demands.
I'll be glad when I'm free of the lot of you.
Little did Oscar Prescott realize, his words had never been more prophetic.
Thank you! Thank you! Did you find out where Beth's been hiding? I looked everywhere.
This is the first I've seen of her.
Thank you so much, and a very warm welcome to all.
Welcome to the Golden Pick-Axe crime writer of the year award, and this year's winner is Oscar Prescott! For "Trouble and Strife.
" Oh, congratulations.
Oh, bravo.
No one saw that coming.
Oh, congratulations.
Thank you, sweetie.
Thank you, thank you.
Never mind.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Wow! Ah Well, look, traditionally, the winner at this point would probably make a speech, but I've never really been one for tradition, so instead I'd like to perform a reading from the last few pages of my next Charlie Palmer mystery, "Brown Bread.
" The last few pages? Won't that rather give away who did it? "Every member of the shooting party had a motive to kill Lord Grint, and Charlie Palmer had spent the past 24 hours determining which of them, if any" Get Oscar.
I need Oscar.
"but also the opportunity to do so.
" Oscar.
"Palmer coolly turned to take in the guests' expectant faces and declared, 'The murderer is'" - Oh, dear.
- Oh, for God's sake.
Stay calm, everyone.
Just stay absolutely calm.
Stay where you are.
All will be well in in an In just a tiny second.
Let's get to the bar before it shuts.
The back-up generator Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! - Help! - Somebody help! Help! Help! Precisely six miles, 27 feet, and eight inches away, a shiver ran down Matilda's spine.
She paused to wonder if the shiver bore any significance to the photograph she was holding of her missing mother, Eleanor.
The photograph had come to replace the fading memory of the woman Matilda once knew.
Every day that passed, Matilda's memory of her mother became ever weaker.
"One day," thought Matilda This photo will be all I have left.
Hello? Hello? The phone's ringing.
Sergeant Mati I mean, Detective Sergeant Matilda Stone.
There's been a murder.
Lynch, our local G.
and resident pathologist.
Detective Sergeant Matilda Stone.
Daniel, please.
Matilda had never been given to flights of fancy, but in that instant, the possibilities of her life with Daniel Lynch scribbled themselves onto her consciousness with the perpetuity of a permanent marker.
Mattie? We're here for you.
I don't think she can see us.
Mattie! Quite the fan club you have there.
Shh! I think she's seen us.
If you could show us the body, Sergeant.
Yes, sir.
Oscar Prescott, 42, single.
He was on stage when the attack took place, but the lights were out, so no one saw who did it.
Hit from behind.
Killed with a single blow, by the looks of it.
- How long were the lights out? - Less than a minute.
So the killer must have already been on stage before the lights went out? - Or in the wings.
- Or in the wings.
Suspects? Oh! Sorry.
I-I made a list.
Event organizer Lady Hiddledean.
Oscar's agent, Guy Ashton.
Award nominees Benjamin Kingston and Isabella Wolfe.
Oscar's P.
, Emily Rose.
His publisher, Maximilian Sinclair.
Literary agent Tobias Young.
And And? Award nominee Beth Stone.
Stone? Any relation? Her aunt.
Please don't take me off the case, sir.
I promise I can be impartial.
You better had, Sergeant.
Otherwise your first case in charge will also be your last.
You can rely on me, sir.
I won't let you down.
No, no, no, no, no, no! No group hugs! Inspector Thorne will see.
Oh, come on, kid, give us this.
We haven't seen you for months.
I've made up your old room ready.
And there's tuna pasta bake in the fridge.
I expect you want us to tell you who did it.
- You know? - We have our theories.
Then keep them to yourselves.
The inspector wants this investigation done by the book.
That means absolutely no outside interference.
It also means you, Aunt Beth, are on my possible list of suspects.
Me? I never even met Oscar Prescott before this evening.
You don't seriously suspect Beth.
Well, you taught me a good detective always keeps an open mind.
But, no, of course I don't.
Just don't leave town.
Oh Look at her go.
All grown up.
Where did Beth go now? What? Oh, I didn't see.
My man Arthur will tell you, the castle's lighting predates the war.
They're always going out.
I just can't afford to get them fixed.
Here's a list of people I need to interview.
- What? - I'll need a room.
- Nobody leaves until I say.
- Right.
I think we'll have omelets for supper.
Arthur? Do you smell smoke? I haven't been able to smell anything since 1984.
Excuse me.
My nerves are a little on edge today.
Do you have a spare cigarette? Sorry, I, uh I don't smoke.
My mistake.
I'm sure we can spare a moment if you No, no, no.
Um, I first met Oscar 20 years ago at a book signing for "Apples and Pears.
" Oscar's first Charlie Palmer novel.
I must have read that book a hundred times.
We hit it off straightaway, and we stayed in touch.
And when Oscar learned that I set up the Charlie Palmer Fan Club, he asked if I would come and work for him as his P.
And were you ever anything more? Is that really necessary, Sergeant? My relationship with Oscar was purely professional.
The only love we shared was for Charlie Palmer.
And you, Mr.
Kingston? Oscar and I shared rooms at Cambridge.
We both read English.
And you weren't jealous that Oscar beat you to the Golden Pick-Axe Award? Writing my novel was an academic exercise.
I care nothing for awards.
Had anything been troubling Oscar recently? Did he have any fallings-out with anyone? He had a bust-up with his agent this morning.
- Guy Ashton.
- But it was nothing.
Guy loves Oscar.
He would never hurt him.
Oscar is special.
Was special.
I discovered him while he was still at Cambridge, I secured him his first publishing deal when he was there.
I understand you and Oscar had a falling-out earlier today? It's part of a ritual dance we went through every contract-renewal time.
I I offer one thing, Oscar demands something else, we we fight, we make up, we agree on something in the middle.
So Oscar re-signed with you? It was gonna happen any day.
Look, I would never hurt Oscar.
He was my greatest find.
My greatest achievement.
Come in.
Come in.
Sorry to bother you.
There's something you need to see.
Oscar Prescott's manuscript.
The last pages are missing.
Well, it's already unlocked.
Well, he wasn't much for keeping things tidy, was he? Well, help me look for his laptop.
Oh, you won't find one.
Oscar wrote everything by hand.
- Did he make a copy? - Never.
He was paranoid someone would read it before he was ready.
Someone's gone to a great deal of trouble to hide the ending to "Brown Bread.
" Solve Charlie Palmer's case, I'm betting it'll lead us to whoever killed its author.
Beth's always been more of the cook.
It looks lovely, thanks.
Hello? Are you sure it's okay for me to stay? 'Cause I could get my own place.
And waste money on rent? - Morning.
- Morning.
Oh, coffee.
Morning, Aunt Cat.
Mm I told you before, it's just Cat.
"Aunt" makes me feel old.
Are you eating that? Go ahead.
So, how's the manuscript? Well, without the last five pages, I haven't a clue who Charlie Palmer was about to name as the murderer.
Well, we could take a look for you.
I told you yesterday, butt out.
Inspector Thorne's orders.
Oh! So I won't ask you if you think it's odd that Oscar won the award in the first place.
Shouldn't he have? Well, according to Isabella Wolfe, Lady H.
promised it to Benjamin Kingston if he attended the festival.
Sour grapes.
From what I heard, Isabella and Oscar hated each other.
I'm not so sure.
I saw Oscar leaving Isabella's room.
And let's just say they both looked like they needed a cold shower.
Oh! I've got to go.
I'll see you at the castle? Mm, we'll be there, taking down our stalls.
Minding our own business.
Thanks for breakfast.
All right, out with it.
What? Well, the cleaning is clearly a displacement activity.
The last time I saw you like this, you'd just been dumped at the altar.
Beth lied to Matilda.
She told Matilda she'd never even met Oscar Prescott until last night.
Come on.
But I saw her with Oscar yesterday morning, and she looked really, well, angry with him.
Well, that's your problem.
Oscar! And, what, now you think Beth killed Oscar Prescott? No! Maybe I don't know.
Why would she lie? And to Matilda, of all people.
There's one way to find out.
Ask her.
Are those the? The missing pages? Yes.
Did anyone see who put them there? No, they were like this when we came down for breakfast.
The murderer is Baron Tollage.
You naughty boy.
Baron Tollage? That doesn't make sense.
Maybe whoever stole them was so scared of being implicated in the murders they decided to return them.
Or they're not the real pages.
No, they're genuine.
How can you be so sure? I have a PhD in stylometry.
It's the study of linguistic styles used to attribute authorship.
Every author's writing style is unique, like a fingerprint.
I'd know Oscar's anywhere.
Beth? Open up.
It's us.
She is not answering her mobile.
Beth! You don't think Beth had anything to do with Oscar's death, do you? Not without good reason.
Well, what does that mean? It means it's time we got involved.
Matilda told us not to.
That was before it became personal.
So, what are you going to do? Find out why Isabella Wolfe lied about her relationship with Oscar.
What am I supposed to do? Well, follow up your suspicions about Max Sinclair.
- What suspicions? - Asking for a cigarette? You've never smoked in your life.
I was surprised to smell smoke on him, that's all.
Ash marks.
Oh, you think Max Sinclair was lying about not being a smoker? No, I think he'd been standing near a fire.
In the middle of summer? I'm looking for Isabella Wolfe.
She's gone into Wildemarsh.
The paintings and photographs that hung in the corridor yesterday, where? They've been sent to Wildemarsh Antiques for restoration.
While Matilda was pondering Lady Hiddledean's liberal use of her limited funds Cat Stone was pondering Isabella Wolfe's equally liberal use of alcohol and asking herself if it was in any way connected to the recent death of a young woman called Sadie Hanson.
All I'm asking for is 40%.
Give me a minute, would you? It's just an advance.
Sinclair, Mr.
Young, I need to ask you a few questions.
Can this wait? We're in the middle of a negotiation here.
Excuse my colleague, Sergeant.
Ask away.
Although I'm the last person that would want poor Oscar dead.
And why would that be? He made me a rich man.
I took a gamble publishing "Apples and Pears," but it was an instant hit, like every Charlie Palmer book since.
Killing Oscar would be like killing the golden goose.
- And you? - Well, Oscar was my client.
Why would I want him dead? I understood Oscar was signed to Guy Ashton.
Yes, he was.
Till yesterday.
Meanwhile, Jane Stone was congratulating herself on her foresight having recently completed the university of hard knocks's ever-popular "how to pick any lock" correspondence course while in her flat above Wildemarsh Auto Body Repairs, Jane's sister Cat had picked a more modern and somewhat less criminal method of investigation.
No, Oscar would never leave me for a charlatan like Tobias Young.
But he does have Oscar's signature on a contract.
Well, this is fake.
It has to be.
As you can see, the signature was witnessed.
I I-I was going to tell you.
That snake! This doesn't end here.
Guy? Just stay there.
Detective Stone.
There's a woman causing a disturbance at The Embittered Hack.
I'm a bit tied up at the moment, Terry.
Yeah, but it sounds like Isabella Wolfe.
If you could wait here.
Get your hands off me! Don't come back.
I wouldn't step back in that dump if you paid me! Isabella.
Oh, it's you.
- What do you want? - We need to talk.
What about? Oscar Prescott being seen leaving your room yesterday afternoon.
- Here.
- Cheers.
So? Oscar and I were lovers.
There, I've said it.
- And the whole animosity thing? - A cover.
Oscar didn't want anyone to know.
Bad for his image, he said.
You're barking up the wrong tree if you think I had anything to do with his death.
You need to start looking closer to home.
Meaning? Your Aunt Beth isn't the saint you think she is.
I heard her tell you she didn't know Oscar.
But I saw them arguing yesterday morning.
Oscar! Despite learning of her Aunt Beth's deceit, and for reasons she had yet to fathom, Matilda's thoughts kept returning to the one woman she had trusted above all others her missing mother, Eleanor.
Meanwhile, Matilda's Aunt Cat chose a deception of a very different kind.
- Sadie Hanson's landlord? - Yeah? I'm a reporter for the Wildemarsh Watchman.
I need to see her room.
So Sadie knew Oscar.
200 on Black Blaze to win.
You know I'm good for it.
Hold on.
While Tobias Young figured out his options, Jane Stone was busily engaged in figures of a rather different nature.
Aunt Beth? I really need to speak to you about Oscar Prescott.
But Aunt Beth didn't want to speak to Matilda, and Matilda was left to wonder why, of all the people in the world, her Aunt Beth would choose to lie to her.
And while Matilda concerned herself with a lie, Cat Stone was about to be reminded of a universal truth namely that good artists copy but great artists steal.
Although still blessed with good health and good looks Hello? Literary agent Tobias Young continued to have considerably less luck in other areas of his life Anybody here? Luck that, if nothing else was at least consistent.