Sister Boniface Mysteries (2022) s01e01 Episode Script

Unnatural Causes

It's amazing! Roll up, roll up, coconut shy, three balls, one try, come on, come on there, you look like you've got a good right arm on you, there we go.
Roll up, roll up! Roll up, roll up, come on there, three balls.
Hello, hello, excuse me? Have you come to work on the buses? No, I'm on secondment to the Metropolitan Police.
Although I had no idea these parts of London were quite so green.
May I trouble you for directions to Scotland Yard? Turn left at the end of Lepers Lane, then keep walking for about 98 miles.
Detective Sergeant Livingstone, I presume? Sister Boniface, at your service.
Inspector's at a murder scene, so I'll fill you in on the way, hop in! Get out the way! Rotten timing, the Mangold Worzel Festival.
World and his wife trampling all over the crime scene.
Mangold Worzel? Yes.
Imagine, if you will, a large and rather bad-tempered parsnip.
So Uncle Tom Cobley was trying to knock the head off old Aunt Sally.
Why? What has she done? Oh, it's a local tradition.
Jolly good fun too.
Until someone bulls-eyed the head and out dropped a corpse.
Okay, thank you, sister, I can, I can take it from here.
Grace Pearson, 23, worked as a housemaid, Bellamy Hall, purse in her coat pocket, a shopping list, library ticket and 10 bob.
So what do you think? Well, I think we can rule out robbery.
Ah, Sam Gillespie, you must be Fred Felix.
Detective Sergeant Felix Livingstone from Hamilton, Barbados.
Hamilton, Bermuda, although there's been a mix-up.
I have been, in fact, seconded to Scotland Yard.
Ah, typical Met.
They know their arses from their elbows, if you'll pardon the language, sister.
Oh, pardon granted, Sam.
I am predisposed to forgive.
Just put them on, unless you want a lecture.
So, could you narrow down time of death? Well, given it's a melter of a day, I'd say no more than two hours.
What's under there? Oh, that is interesting.
Look at that, cadaveric spasm.
It's a rare form of muscular stiffening associated with violent demise.
Anything, I don't know, like cause of death or murder weapon? Petechiae in the eyes suggests asphyxiation.
Let's have a look in her mouth.
Ooh gosh.
Dear lord.
What's that? Hang on a minute.
And, your murder weapon identified.
Imagine the scene, if you will.
The murderer holds her down, so when she opens her mouth to scream, her airways fill with sawdust.
A slow and terrifying death.
Oh, I'm dreadfully sorry.
Are you all right? I think you got a little bit in your mouth, there.
DS Felix Livingstone, this is WPC Peggy Button.
Finest WPC in the county.
I'm the only WPC and the county.
Oh, sir, you might want to take a statement from Miss Thimble.
I thought it might be a lovers' tiff.
I was walking past, and I heard someone say, "You're a parasite.
" It did seem a little odd.
You're a parasite, her exact words? If you say so, dear.
A mummer, eh? So you didn't get a look at his face? A mummer? The blokes dressed as haystacks.
Could you manage a stab at the time, Miss Thimble? Oh yes, it was tea time.
Perhaps in terms of an approximate chronological time? It was 1:13 and 17 seconds.
Ah, that's very proximate.
The church clock had just struck the quarter hour, and is 1 minute 43 seconds fast.
We're fundraising to have it reset.
Thank you.
Ar, pick up our ol' Aunt Sally at the ol' dipper ar' two ack.
You getting this down? I don't speak, Welsh? There's no flies on you, Tom.
He's from Barbados.
- Bermuda.
- Bermuda.
I am from Bermuda.
We will, Tom.
The Mountie always gets his man.
It's the local dialect, you'll get used to it.
I am not planning on staying here.
Translation, Tom picked up Aunt Sally from the Lucky Dip tent at 2:00 PM, failing to notice there was a body inside.
Now, Miss Thimble saw Grace arguing with a mummer at- 1:13 and 17 seconds.
Which gives us a murder window of- 46 minutes and 43 seconds.
So, where to next? Bellamy Hall.
So Halcroft Bellamy of Bellamy Steelworks died six months ago, leaving the lot to his nephews and niece, Edwin, Fabian and Electra.
Does Grace have any family we can contact? She was an orphan.
We had that in common, except while she was raised in an orphanage, we were sent here to my uncle.
Well, you were very fortunate.
A witness mentioned a lovers' tiff, did Grace have a young man? I very much doubt it.
Electra fill her head with all sorts of feministic fancies.
Women should be independent of men and have careers, that sort of nonsense.
I see you are a mummer.
Oh, yes, we both were.
For our sins, it's expected of us Bellamys.
He means male Bellamys.
I take it you disapprove? Of the menfolk prancing around while their womenfolk serve food? Have you tried prancing around dressed as a haystack in 70 degree heat? Right, well, do you mind if Sister Boniface takes a look around Grace's bedroom? Who the blazes is Sister Boniface? Police scientific advisor.
I admire a woman with a career.
My uncle believed that men were created to serve God and women to serve men.
Two careers.
Actually three, if you count wine-making.
"To Grace, with love Electra.
The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.
" You were teaching her to read? All she ever wanted was to escape a life of domestic servitude.
We were alike in that respect.
She wasn't just, we were friends.
For years, my only friend, I don't know what I'll do without her.
Thank you.
I thought we're meeting at a laboratory.
Ah, ye of little faith.
Evening, Reg.
Oi, you're paying for that! Nuns, making alcohol? Our lord asked for poverty, chastity and obedience.
Didn't say anything about sobriety.
Amen to that.
Did her room turn up anything? Fact, all library users are issued four tickets.
One was found in her purse, deduction, Grace borrowed three books, two in her room and the third is missing.
However, it's clear from the dust patterns on the bookshelf, it was there no later than this morning.
Stick with it, there will be a point eventually.
Now Grace was a spit spot sort of a girl, everything in its place.
So she wouldn't mislay a library book and risk a fine.
Is any of this significant? Well, sometimes the absence of something is as significant as its presence.
Right, we'll check with the library, and we need to do a background check on the Bellamy brothers.
Till then, I say we call it a night.
I haven't been in contact with Scotland Yard yet.
Oh it's too late now, and the hotels will all be closed for the Worzel Festival.
Nothing for it but to throw yourself at the mercy of my landlady.
Will she have a room? Well, I'm her only lodger and they're not exactly battering down the doors in account of Mrs.
Clam being, well, Mrs.
Clam is, er, let's just say Mrs.
Clam is- No alcohol, no helping yourself to food or drink from the kitchen, no laundry, no radios or telephone calls after 9:00 PM and no women.
I know what you policemen are like.
Well, I am engaged to be married.
Oh, congratulations.
Who's the lucky girl? Victoria.
Two guineas a week.
Oh, I'm not planning on staying- Breakfast and evening meal are provided.
And I hope you're not expecting any foreign food.
What are you doing up at this hour? Reverend Mother Adrian, just reading.
Sister Peter takes it for her knitting patterns, so it was in her work basket, and removing it seemed perilously close to breaking the eighth, so- You aren't, from memory, much of a knitter? No, but it has some interesting articles.
"How to keep your husband honeymoon happy.
" Have you something to confess, sister? Very good, no, no- I'll spare you from breaking the ninth and assume it's to do with your extracurricular activities.
Though why the Mother House allow it is a mystery.
Make sure you turn the lights off when you go.
Bingo! Now we know Grace called in at the shop on her way to the fair.
Fact, there are seven items on the shopping list, all of which were in her shopping basket, except for one, a copy of this week's "Albion Home Maker.
" Begging the question, did the murderer take it, and if so, for what reason? I've got a feeling you're going to tell me.
Arnold's Advice.
" "My fiance won't go to church on Sundays, should I call off the wedding?" Almost certainly yes.
You would say that.
Well, Mrs.
Arnold concurs, look.
"If he's lazy in this instance, it bodes ill for his character.
" My lack of desire to go to church is only outweighed by my lack of desire to find a wife, -so if you would just- -Yes, well anyway, if you look at the bottom of the page here.
G-P, Grace Pearson.
"I advise you to go to the police.
" I think we need to have a word with this Mrs.
Oh, yes.
Am I to assume this is to do with Grace Pearson? No comment.
I'm not really feeling the quid pro quo here, Sam.
She was 23 years old and her life was taken brutally, and in the cruellest of ways.
Thank you, sister.
See, you only had to ask nicely.
Arnold, the coppers wanna word.
Come on.
"Dear Mrs.
Arnold, my employer died recently due to natural causes.
I now suspect it was a murder, but I have no proof.
Should I tell someone? Please don't print this letter, G.
" No one thought to hand this in? Well, it's called "Mrs.
Arnold's Advice," Sam, not Mrs.
Arnold snitches to the police.
Yes, very good.
Halcroft Bellamy's obituary.
Took some wordsmanship, I can tell you, as his demise was a blessing to us all.
Rich as Croesus, but mean as Mephistopheles.
Cause of death? A heart attack at his birthday dinner.
Any suspicious circumstances? Well, Chief Constable Lowsley obviously didn't think so, he was one of the guests.
Look, Sam, if anything comes of this, and the nationals get hold of it first, I will make your life a living hell.
And if there is so much as a word of this in your evening edition, I will return the favour.
Well done, lad, show 'em what coppers are made of! Anyway, it was a ghastly affair.
He made us eat invalid food.
I don't know what he spent his millions on, but it certainly wasn't his wine cellar.
Anyway, the interminable meal was finally coming to an end when young Master Bellamy rose to propose a toast.
I'd like to raise a glass in toast, happy birthday uncle, and good health for years to come.
- Happy birthday.
- Happy birthday, Bellamy.
Keep your elbow level with your throwing shoulder! Buffoon.
Anyway, his nurse was with him in minutes, said his ulcer had burst and brought on a heart attack.
Did anything strike you as suspicious? Ah, unpleasant old man dies suddenly and makes his nephews and niece rich beyond their wildest dreams? That sort of thing, sir.
Occam's Razor, Gillespie.
He was in poor health.
Poison wasn't an option as we'd all ate and drank the same things.
Action stations.
Er, if you want to speak to the nurse, she's manning the first aid tent.
Libby, er, Libby Libby Libby, Libby Mayfield.
I went to the library.
Grace's missing book was Plutarch's "Parallel Lives.
" Heavy reading for a housemaid.
Don't say I told you so.
I withdrew the only other copy in the library, unfortunately- How's your Ancient Greek? Decidedly rusty.
She's just being modest.
I need to have a word with the chief constable.
Excuse me, thank you.
Ah, you must be the new boy.
Chief Constable Hector Lowsley.
Detective Sergeant Livingstone.
Sir, there seems to have been a mistake.
I should be at Scotland Yard.
Well, that's a grave one, ballcock! Someone will be held accountable.
Devil knows who.
So how are you finding England's green and pleasant? A bit of a culture shock, sir.
Sister Boniface? I know exactly what you're thinking.
Waste of a brain.
Double starred first from Cambridge, PhD in Biochemical, thingummy, Science.
Which came in jolly useful during the war, I can tell you.
Yes, MI5 wanted her after, but she decided to take the veil.
Ah, women.
Still, the spooks' loss was our gain.
Aye aye, let battle commence! With luck and careful management, he could've lived years.
Sadly, luck wasn't on his side.
And you diagnosed a heart attack? The sudden and violent onset of symptoms were consistent with a cardiac arrest brought on by a burst gastric ulcer.
Abdominal pains, convulsions, hematemesis.
The doctor who attended later concurred with my diagnosis.
What was Bellamy like as an employer? Cruel, selfish and irascible.
Which begs the question, why did you stay? He paid well.
Excuse me, first Mangold injury of the year.
Come this way, thank you.
Spit it out.
Fact, Grace suspected Halcroft Bellamy's death was unnatural, and fact, the symptoms described, abdominal pains, convulsions, hematemesis, are also consistent with cyanide poisoning.
Cyanide poisoning.
Query means, as all the guests shared the same food and drink.
I'm still waiting on criminal record reports.
Edwin, 27, Fabian, 24, both single, both employed by the family firm.
Dutiful enough nephews by all accounts, although Fabian had a spot of trouble at university and was sent down on a disciplinary matter.
Electra lived at home until her uncle's death, schooled by a governess until she was old enough to act as her uncle's companion.
Now reads Classics at Girton College, Cambridge, where she is president of the Feminist Society.
Oh, bravo.
Also, Halcroft Bellamy reported the theft of a pair of Queen Anne candlesticks.
The complaint was withdrawn, but here is the crime file from WPC Button.
Good work.
Anything from you, sister? Post-mortem lividity.
So, when the heart stops beating, blood pools in the body, in this case, leaving the imprint of an object clutched in her hand at death.
Nothing found on the body or at the crime scene, but maybe it was removed by the killer.
I'll have to magnify the photograph and get a clearer image.
So Grace confides in Mrs.
Arnold, and on the day it's printed in the magazine, she gets murdered.
The same day the Bellamy brothers were at the fair dressed as mummers.
We need to talk to the Bellamys again.
Any luck with Scotland Yard? I'm still trying to track down the relevant officer to speak to.
Well, we've got this, if you need to make some calls.
Are you ready, sister? Oh, Roger Wilco, sir.
She never did grasp I before E.
Well, utter rot.
Of course uncle Hal wasn't murdered.
We'd be pretty lousy murderers to bump him off in front of the chief constable of police.
I believe all the guests ate and drank the same that night? Broth and boiled chicken.
The only other thing he ate was half a peach, same dessert every night.
And before you ask, it wasn't poisoned because as always, I ate the other half.
My uncle abhorred food wastage.
Now, you both took part in the parade yesterday? Oh, this is intolerable.
First, you accuse us of murdering our uncle, and now our maid.
Not at all, sir.
But Grace was last seen alive with a mummer, and there was over 30 in the procession, and I'm duty bound to follow up on every one.
Of course, Inspector, whatever we can do to help.
Although Dr.
Locard maintains the perpetrator brings something to the crime scene and leaves with something from it, I doubt he was ever faced with one of these.
Literally like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Can you confirm that these belong to your uncle? Possibly, why do you ask? Well, considering he's been dead for six months, we were wondering who wore them yesterday? Yes, all three pairs have fresh grass and mud stains, and the legs on this pair have been trimmed with a sharp blade for a wearer of approximately five foot four and three quarter inches.
Oh, you sly old dog.
Yes, all right.
I wore them to the parade, so arrest me.
What the hell were you thinking? If you'd been found out, all merry hell would have broken loose.
Why did you lie, Miss Bellamy? The inevitable lecture from my brother, obviously.
It was a symbolic act of rebellion.
Proving that with gender concealed, there is no distinction between sexes.
Our sister doesn't conform to traditional female roles.
Put a sock in it, Fabe.
Look, enough! Is that all, Inspector? Yes, for now.
We know where to find you if there's anything further.
Symbolic act of rebellion.
Now, something tells me you're going to like this.
Almost there, bear with me.
Oh, and, voila! Is that an F? I would say possibly an item of jewellery or cuff links.
I think it's time I brought Fabian Bellamy in for questioning.
And I'm late for an optician's appointment.
Just before he died, your uncle reported the theft of two Queen Anne candlesticks.
He claimed that they were taken by a member of the household.
Did he know about your arrest for the possession of illegal drugs? Hm, what do you think? I think you would have been out on your ear without any inheritance.
And then the candlesticks mysteriously turned up.
I owed money to the wrong people.
So yes, I resorted to stealing the family silver.
Didn't think he'd notice the odd candlestick, but when he went to the police, I panicked, and- And you killed him.
No, no, I fessed up to Edwin, and on certain conditions, he saved my skin.
Got the candlesticks out of hock.
What conditions? Forced me to a drying out clinic for dope addicts.
Much as I cursed him at the time, I am what you see before you now, a sober and responsible member of society.
Don't judge me, Inspector.
Our childhood ended when our parents died and we were sent to live with a man who hated children.
Edwin coped by playing possum, towing the line, being groomed for the family firm, forbidden to marry because uncle didn't approve.
Electra, well, Electra buried herself in books.
Whereas I chose sweet oblivion, to fade far away, dissolve and quite forget.
You said your brother was forbidden to marry.
And now? F-E-A-T-H-O, oh! My trip to the optician was successful on two levels, prescription woefully out of date, and a Damascene moment with a Snellen chart.
So under closer magnification, there's a striation, you see? Look, just here.
This isn't an F, it's an E.
Electra or Edwin.
Funny you should say that, 'cause Fabian Bellamy just coughed that his brother Edwin fell in love with his uncle's nurse.
When his uncle found out, he hit the roof and banned the match.
The $64,000 question is why you didn't think to mention that Edwin Bellamy was your fiance? I didn't think it relevant.
Halcroft's death left him free to marry who he choose, without any risk to his inheritance.
A death that you diagnosed as natural causes, but also indicated cyanide poisoning, as any good nurse would have known.
Halcroft Bellamy was a monster who treated those children like his playthings.
Is it any wonder that they are all scarred mentally or that if I had suspicions, that's the reason I kept them to myself? But it wasn't Edwin, I can assure you of that.
How so? Because if he isn't brave enough to stand up for the woman he loves, then he'd hardly be brave enough to kill for me.
Can I ask where you were two days ago between 1:00 and 2:00 PM? Here, on duty.
And before you ask, no, I did not see any patients during that time, so if there's nothing else, the Mangold final starts in five minutes and I'm expecting a rush of blunt force traumas.
Can we have your full name for our records, please? Elizabeth Joan Mayfield.
Hello, Button.
From Scotland Yard, sergeant.
Apologies for the error, report to DCI James, Scotland Yard, at your earliest convenience.
We were just getting used to having you around.
Hello? It's all here in Plutarch.
Miss Thimble misheard.
Grace didn't say parasite, she said Parysatis, a classical poisoner of some ingenuity, it transpires.
Wait, I need to write this down.
Here, take this.
No, I can't take it! Hello? Hello? Don't think about calling back, you hussy! Right.
So, this is what you get up to when I'm safely asleep in my bed? Women telephoning at the dead of night.
It is barely gone past nine, and I assure you, there is a perfectly innocent explanation.
That woman she's, she's a nun.
I don't know what counts as innocent where you come from, but in this country, it is moral turpitude of the highest order, and I will not have it under my roof! Nor will you have to, for I shall be leaving tomorrow, for which I am profoundly grateful.
Great Slaughter should be called Bedlam, as it is peopled with lunatics.
How dare you? My bill shall be settled before my departure.
I bid you a good night, Mrs.
Wait, the sister's got something.
Rendezvous at Bellamy Hall in the morning.
And you just do as she says? No, well.
Somewhat annoyingly, she is usually right.
I came here to learn from the cutting edge of modern policing.
Your procedures and systems are Victorian, at best, and your partnered with a nun.
Exactly, no one can resist a wimple, and we have the best cleanup rate in the county.
So, you on for a collar before you go? The only thing I should be on tomorrow, is the first train to London.
Excuse me.
DI Gillespie, I have a warrant to search these premises.
Then you better come in.
So, Inspector, have you and the sister finished rooting through our valuables? This is all a bit Agatha Christie.
Grace suspected that your uncle's death was due to unnatural causes.
When she raised those suspicions, she was murdered.
She was in illiterate housemaid with a head filled with nonsense.
Grace wasn't illiterate, Electra had taught her to read.
Shortly before she died, she was seen arguing with a mummer.
Now, the witness overheard her call them a parasite.
But what she actually said was a Per, a Para- A Parysatis.
And who's she, the cat's mother? The wife of Emperor Darius, of Persia, Who according to Plutarch, poisoned her rival at a banquet of guests, all dining on the same food.
Just, um- I don't read Ancient Greek.
Oh right, right.
I'm a bit rusty, so.
Just get on with it.
"So taking a little bird, Parysatis halved it with a little knife, smeared with poison on one side, thus wiping the poison off upon one part only of the bird.
The undefiled and wholesome part, she then put into her own mouth and ate.
And to Stateira, she gave the poisoned part, who died in convulsions and great suffering.
" I'm afraid you've lost me.
Well every night, Electra shared a peach with your uncle.
Only this time, his half was lethal.
You taught Grace to read rather too well, it seems.
Not to mention unprovable.
Not if we exhume the body and test it for traces of cyanide.
I've had enough of this.
I'm gonna contact our solicitor.
I believe you need burden of proof to exhume a body.
Reasonable suspicion will do it.
But as you asked, sister? Oh yes, you left a signature clutched in Grace's hand at the time of death, and though removed afterwards, it had already left its mark.
We found this in your room.
I told her the wisdom of the world was in Plutarch.
I never imagined she'd actually read it.
"The Albion Home Maker"? Have I taught you nothing, my dear? What're you doing, Electra? Playing the men at their own game.
What's so compelling in Mrs.
Arnold's Advice? Give it back.
Electra! Why would you want to go to the police, Grace? The wisdom of the world, you said, contained in one book.
I wanted to surprise you, but then I realised, you are Parysatis.
Grace was my only friend, but the summit of her aspirations was a nice little office job where she wouldn't be on her feet all day.
Whereas I am destined to be a someone of significance.
Electra Bellamy, I am arresting you for the murders of Halcroft Bellamy and Grace Pearson.
You do not need to say anything but anything you do say- No, she doesn't.
Take my car.
There's, er, there's money in there, and a gun.
Be careful, it's loaded.
Typical of you to leave it till now to surprise me, Edwin.
I tried my best.
I'm just sorry, I'm sorry I wasn't good enough.
I'll shoot anyone who tries to stop her.
Right, well, as it looks like we're in for a wait, is anyone up for a rubber of Whist? Only if we're playing for money.
Miss Bellamy.
May I? They're void in spades, you should be counting the cards.
I'm sorry, I got distracted by being held hostage at gunpoint.
Well, could the hostage taker please pass us the port? Might be here some time.
I think I'd rather get shot.
Three rubbers of bloody Whist, and it wasn't even loaded! Well, if I'm not brave enough to save the woman I love, hardly brave enough to load a gun.
Oh, Edwin! You ruddy idiot, they'll still throw the book at you! Being an accessory after the fact, false imprisonment and assaulting a police officer with a card game! I don't expect you to wait.
Oh, he's right, you are an idiot! I fell in love with you, I never expected you to change.
Ah, Button.
Impeccable timing, as always.
Bellamy's car was found near the station, sir, abandoned, we thought it might have been stolen.
Right, arrest him.
Come on, what are you waiting for? Right you are, sir.
Arrest him for what, sir? Where are you heading, again? Oxford, a meeting with my tutor.
It's a tragedy, worthy of Grecian epic.
Orphans imprisoned in a gilded tower, guarded by a monster.
Poor children, they never stood much chance of a happy ending.
How long will Edwin get in prison? It depends on the charges.
False imprisonment alone should get him life.
Well, the gun was unloaded, so technically he wasn't armed.
I would hardly a rubber of Whist a hostage situation.
The law won't see it that way.
Although it would make it quite a headline.
Police inspector forced to play Whist at gunpoint.
Stop the train! Stop, stop! Stop the train! Scotland Yard, how exciting.
No doubt you'll be glad to see the back of Great Slaughter.
Oh, I will.
Next stop, Bicester.
Change for Botley line and trains for Basingstoke.
That's me.
I thought you were getting off at Oxford.
My tutor lives on the outskirts, it's as quick to get the bus from Bicester.
I must ask you to remain here, Miss Bellamy.
I must beg to differ, sarge.
Quid pro quo.
Buy you a drink to say thanks.
He's a long way from home.
Someone should be with him when he wakes up.
Sir, Edwin Bellamy, sir, what am I charging him with? Possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Felix? Victoria? Felix.
You're here? He's awake.
You have a visitor.
You're quite the hero.
Electra Bellamy was arrested at the scene and is now being held for trial at HMP Sonning.
You made the front page.
I think they overestimate- The Lord Lieutenant was extremely chuffed, so much so, and given that his brother-in-law is the Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, they've agreed that we can hang on to you for a while! That's, that's It's my pleasure, all decided.
- Thank you.
- I think he's pleased.
Thank you.
You know what we should do, we should celebrate.
Yes, well, I've got to tee off in half an hour, so I can't hang around, I'm afraid.

Next Episode