Sister Boniface Mysteries (2022) s01e03 Episode Script

Love and Other Puzzles

Busty divorcee, fifties, seeks energetic male, any age, to share dinner, wine, and et cetera.
Box 19.
Shot it myself this morning.
No time for hanging.
Mid-season hens, best eaten as soon as they come out of rigour mortis, Don't you agree? Wait there.
I'll go and scare up some gravy.
A few lumps.
The odd giblet's not going to kill us, hey? Here's mud in your eye.
Well, I do like a man who can guess my size.
Oh, not quite what I had in mind, but I'm game if you are.
How many corners are there in a kitten? How many mittens in a rectangle? Oh, these furry little blighters are blurring into one.
Oh, I might shut my eyes for a tick.
Morning sister.
Yes, good morning to you, Peggy.
Though, I doubt it's been a good morning for our hapless milkman.
Oh, I know.
It's Terry's second ol' stiff this month.
Poor Terry.
Let's see if the unfortunate deceased has her own tale to tell.
Hilary Sympson-Smythe, age 58.
Likely cause of death, coronary heart disease.
The jigsaw puzzle is "You Shall Have No Pie," based on a nursery rhyme in which three kittens lose their mittens.
Yeah, I'm familiar with the Mother Goose canon.
Hardly thrilling enough to prompt a heart attack.
Just me, or is there something wrong with this picture? Well, the picture and the puzzle.
Meaning? Piece missing, bottom left.
Question is, why would anyone attempt to 200-piece puzzle with a face covered in cold cream? Why indeed? The greasy pieces are a puzzler's worst nightmare.
All right, maybe not the worst, but definitely top five.
Would you mind taking Peggy house-to-house? See if anyone heard or saw anything last night? Sir.
Lily scent, lanolin base notes.
How long would it take to do 200-piece puzzle? Ah, well that can be expressed as N multiplied by N, so a 200-piece puzzle is four times as difficult as a 100-piece, while a 500 is 25 times harder than a 100-piece, the reason being that one must compare each jigsaw piece to N other pieces.
Quite a while.
Yeah, unless she had help.
And given that she's gone all out on the frock, lipstick and pearls, I bet that help was a gentleman caller.
Whoever was here was certainly careful to tidy up.
Oh I'll say.
Not a print insight.
Powdery residue on the coffee table though.
And some on the sofa too.
Tucked behind the bread bin.
Someone should head down to the Bugle.
And I suppose that someone ought to be you.
I need to talk to you about your lonely hearts.
Perfect timing.
You can take advantage of our one-month free offer.
For an investigation.
Obviously I'd like to help, but the persons behind our personals are confidential, Sam, I'm sure you'll understand.
Even if your personals are linked to a possible murder case? Keep talking.
It's strictly on the QT, but there was a woman found dead with a jigsaw puzzle, and her face full of cold cream.
And you're suspicious because? A hunch.
Do I get an exclusive? Once I know what we're dealing with, and it's safe to go public.
Is that a yes? It's not a no.
All right, follow me.
Sympson-Smythe, Sympson-Smythe Ah, cheers.
Colin, you're a diamond.
Busty divorcee, fifties, seeks energetic male any age to share dinner, wine, et cetera.
Box 19.
Fair to say, Hilary was one of our more enthusiastic customers.
Oh, let's hope it wasn't the "et cetera" that finished her off.
So, talk me through the system? Someone places an ad, for example, "lonely lady seeks tall, handsome stranger," Or, "frustrated bachelor seeks assertive, "successful woman.
" They're assigned a box number, all correspondence is checked and forwarded every Thursday.
How soon can you get the names and addresses of these men? He described him as smart, upright, gray-haired and smoking a pipe.
Arnold left the honeysuckle cottage, saw him when he went out to retrieve a pigeon.
A what? A pigeon.
You and Peggy need to start eliminating.
There's 34 names on that list.
Right, I shall begin.
As I suspected.
Diethyl barbituric acid Please don't touch.
Diethyl barbituric acid.
Barbital in powder form, brand name bentanol, prescribed for insomnia.
Progress! Good man.
Oh, and if there was any doubt about whether her death was suspicious, you know, Simpson-Smythe had enough in her system to fell a giraffe, so Right.
You've sent me on that snowball, sister.
I've earned myself one too if you're buying.
Evening, sister.
Hello Ruth! I thought you always bought your own.
Well sometimes a girl likes to leave her principles at the door, Sam, you know that.
I'll do the honours, what'll it be? The usual, thanks.
I knew there was something about your mystery that rang a bell.
Alice Croft died at home on May the ninth, supposedly of natural causes.
Oh, yes, Mrs.
Croft, a local counsellor if memory serves.
I interviewed her daughter for the obit.
She said how tragic it was that mother didn't get to finish her new jigsaw puzzle, the "Madonna of the Yarnwinder.
" Apparently the family took great comfort from the fact the Holy Mother was somehow with her when she passed.
Interesting, but it's not necessarily a link.
Agreed, which is why I called and asked a couple more questions.
It seems Alice Croft was wearing cold cream when she was discovered.
Oh gosh.
I don't suppose she was A lonely heart? "Buxom from Bath.
"Attractive mature widow, fit 50s, "seeks energetic male for frisky fun.
"Box 22.
" Sam, you need to let me go to press.
Not yet.
Why the hell not? Sorry, sister.
No, no, that's quite all right.
Pretend I'm not here.
Going public will cause mass hysteria and scare the killer back into the woodwork.
Then let's hope for your sake he doesn't strike again.
I wouldn't want that on my conscience.
Strictly entre nous, one gets tired being of in the same position, week in, week out.
I have you to thank for opening my eyes to new possibilities.
The pleasure was all mine, Mrs.
I'll, um, freshen the teapot.
Thought I would send WPC Button out to check the sale of jigsaw puzzles in the area.
Right, good.
Anything else you want to tell me about? Presuming Cyril isn't listening in from beyond on the grave? There you are.
Sergeant Livingston needs his strength building up.
I'm not sure I want to know what for.
You are honestly not insinuating.
What? I have joined Mrs.
Clam and the bell ringers of St.
Michael's Church.
Ah, praise be.
Why didn't you tell me? And have you make a mockery of me? Would I? No, I think it's great.
So if I joined the bell ringers would I get sausages too? Have mine, the British banger's a taste I've yet to acquire.
Watch out.
Now Mrs.
C knows you're a joiner-iner, she'll be trying to join you up to the GSADS.
The G-what? The Great Slaughter Amateur Dramatics Society.
Sorry, line? Wait, got it.
It's true, you love me with every step of the waltz.
"The merry widow was last here," Dottie.
Let's take five to revisit the script, shall we? And try to not just say the lines, but feel them in our core.
My core feels there's some impropriety going on.
Honestly, I didn't see it won't come to a bit of Gilbert and Sullivan or Noel Coward, if one insists on being modern.
Hello, new blood.
Certainly not.
We're looking for Colin, if he's around.
I know exactly where he is.
He's either in the lav, or adjusting the lights, or, sorry who are you looking for? Morning officers.
Everything all right? Just a quick word, please.
Of course.
Don't keep him too long.
Chaos descends if Dottie doesn't have a prompt.
Again, from page 66 please, she says! Sorry to interrupt whatever this is.
Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment.
Mother's quite ambitious, the cast have being great sports about it so far, although she hasn't told them about the unitards yet.
We just wanted to check something with you.
Confounding white residue, from the coffee table.
Subjected it to every test in Christendom, yet it stubbornly refuses to be any familiar chemical compound.
This test is my last hurrah.
Fingers crossed.
Oh, that is unexpected.
What am I seeing? Plain as a pike staff.
Polyhedral granules.
Central hylamide fivery cleft.
Corn flour.
Of course, what was I thinking? So why is it scattered all over our crime scene? Thickening the plot, perhaps.
Any insights into the world of lonely hearts? Well, thanks to Colin, we now know Alice and Hilary both dated two of the same men.
Yes, box 22, Major Roger Travis, AKA the Major Heart Sing.
And Box 30, retired chemist, Professor Claude.
Claude Several, AKA Bunsen Burner.
A man after my own heart.
Interest purely professional of course.
Good old Colin.
Good old Colin.
Ah, the pensive pause.
Something a bit obsessive about him, don't you think? The pocket squares and the persnickety systems.
Does really depend on one's own benchmark in regards to efficiency, and grooming.
I suppose he does have a connection to both women.
Time to make some house calls.
I only met each lady the once, and they were but two of many.
So you consider women interchangeable.
Is that it, professor? Actually I'm a sufferer of prosopagnosia, a condition that renders one Unable to recognise faces, even one's own.
Very good Sergeant.
So I differentiate women by smell.
Smell? I can detect different blood types, in fact.
Hilary was B positive, quite a rare one, that.
We think the perpetrator may have had pharmacological knowledge.
If you're suggesting I use my expertise to drug women, I'll assure you I've no need of chemical intervention of any kind.
Where were you the night before last, professor? A partial eclipse if I'm not mistaken.
Are you given to lunar distractions, inspector? No.
And yet even rational men such as ourselves can't help but feel the eternal tango of the cosmos.
Where were you the night of June 13th, professor? I was at a fundraising dinner for cripples in Mombasa.
I'm a passionate and vigorous campaigner.
And you can prove that? My passion and vigour? No, your whereabouts, professor.
But I've every confidence that you can.
You sure he'll be here? Half a pint of stout at 5:45.
Word is you can set your watch by Major Travis.
Major Travis? Yes? Sorry to bother you.
We're investigating an incident the night before last.
Must be serious if you're inconveniencing law-abiding citizens on a Saturday.
Just a couple of questions, and we'll let you get back to your racing pages.
Fire away then, Detective Inspector Gillespie.
Where were you the evening of June 13th? I was here until 6:30 sharp.
Then I walked home.
Straight home? Any stops, deviations? I may have taken the scenic route via the lake.
Did you see or speak to anyone that could verify that? No.
My shrapnel injury was causing discomfort, so I turned in early.
And yet you may have taken the scenic route as a detour.
I don't recall.
That's the trouble with war wounds.
They tend to manifest without warning at inconvenient moments.
Well, excuse the inconvenience, Major.
We'll be in touch if there's anything further.
Obviously I would take on a male role, but the beard glue brings me out in a rash.
Oh, that was the front gate.
Clam, got to go.
See you and Dottie for the readthrough in the morning.
Commonly Wallflower 52, hoping to bloom.
Better late than never.
Are you my sunshine? Will respond to all.
Box 31.
Morning! Queen of the kitchen as promised.
Don't tell the vicar it's my new Bible.
Once you've served kir in a wine glass, there's no going back.
Oh, I love a Buff Orpington.
Morning, thespians.
Right, I've color-coded everyone's part.
I'm green.
Dottie, you're pink.
Lois, you're blue.
Lois? You're blue.
I'm pink! Blue.
Oh dear, Lois, you're What kind of miscreant could do such a thing? You've had a terrible shock.
I'll take you in for a cup of tea, Mrs.
Or something stronger.
Any thoughts to the time of death, sister? Well, I'd estimate between eight and 11 in the PM.
No one could have seen this coming.
And yet the same M.
The cold cream, the corn flour, the missing jigsaw piece.
Why? Well, my guess is the cold cream is to render the victim faceless, anonymous, unable to judge his actions.
Certainly a troubled psyche at work.
To hell with his psyche.
He's a sick opportunist using the lonely hearts to prey on unsuspecting victims.
Yes, but we still need to understand the motivation.
It's not sexual, but he obviously likes to spend time with his victims.
I don't need to understand him.
I just need to catch him.
I need some air.
Sister? Yes.
I'd say someone took off their muddy shoes before entering the house.
Must have dropped out of the tread.
A stout walking shoe, I'd wager.
How do we know it belonged to the murderer? Well, given that it rained yesterday evening for the first time in weeks, and that Lois isn't the kind of housekeeper to allow any speck to go un-scrubbed, I'd say extremely sure.
What is that? Some type of grass? Barley, by the looks.
It won't tell us who our killer is, but it will certainly tell us where he's been.
He was lying, Professor Several.
Bunsen burner? That charity event? Two eye-witnesses saw him leave straight after the canapes.
And the night that Alice died? Claims he was at some silent retreat in Lord Pasternak's folly, alone, hardly watertight.
I think we should pay the professor a visit.
Sure I can't tempt you to a Bloody Mary? Or a Virgin if you prefer? Thank you, no.
Where were you last night, Professor? Tucked up in bed with Odette and Pamela, my cats, reciting Plutarch together.
Siamese are very vocal you know.
This fundraiser on June 13th, you were seen leaving early.
It's time for some un-embroidered facts, Professor.
It's true.
I'm dishonest.
And weak, a slave to temptation.
I was not alone.
The charity treasurer and I went to the little Grange Hotel.
Why did you lie? Because the lady in question is a local magistrate.
Wouldn't do for her reputation to be sullied.
Three women have been killed, Professor.
Your lady friend's reputation is the least of my worries.
It's true.
The receptionist signed him in and checked him out the next morning, and delivered at various intervals, a bottle of absinthe, two hair nets, and a plate of Welsh rarebit.
No accounting for taste.
Indeed not.
As for Colin, he left our rehearsal at 6:45, took the train to Bonnington, and alighted at Little Sockford, for a harpsichord recital.
Anyone see him? The conductor clipped his ticket.
He returned home at 2200 hours, bidding goodnight to the scoutmaster before heading up the front path.
And I bet he could tell us the colour of the scoutmaster's shoelaces.
I dare say.
Which leaves the Major.
Any progress on that footprint? Matter of fact, yes.
So the large structures are tree seeds, some sort of conifer.
Combined with the barley fragments and fungal spores, we're looking at a specific time and place, a pedological photograph if you will.
A photograph of what? We'd have to sample mud from barley fields in the area.
But if we can locate the same profile, We'll know who the killer is.
Let's go and see if the Major's got any mud on his shoes.
"Honest, loyal, ex-army gentlemen of means "seeks warmhearted lady for companionship and home fires.
" A lady like Alice Croft or Hilary Sympson-Smythe, or Lois Mason.
For the umpteenth time, I've never met these women.
Mud was found in Lois Mason's porch.
The remnants perfectly match the tread of your shoes.
As they no doubt would the shoes of everyone else who owns the same ubiquitous brand.
Awfully clean, aren't they? Given that you live in a rural area.
Well, you can take the man out of the army.
Seems you've discovered my footwear is as clean as my conscience, so you're clutching at straws, inspector.
You've visited Gravestocks News Agents two days before Hilary was murdered.
What did you buy? I believe it was a jigsaw puzzle.
A jigsaw of what? No idea.
One with a picture on it.
Who for? My Aunt Edith.
And if you'd done your job, you would have found out that I also bought a birthday card and some parcel string in order to post it to her for her birthday, as I do every year.
What's with the jigsaw puzzle fixation, Major? Come now, Inspector.
Once a lady's fertile and attractive years are behind her, what else is there for her to do? Now, unless you have some actual evidence, Inspector Gillespie, I should take myself home for supper.
Good day.
I had to just watch him walk out.
It's unconscionable, I know, but we simply have no proof.
Clam, we've lost our appetite somewhat.
No, I must apologise.
I seem to be ruining breakfast, lunch and dinner ever since.
Don't worry.
Mrs C.
No one's noticed.
Awful to think that Lois opened her heart to that man, only to fall into his terrible trap.
Wait, that's it.
A trap.
We send the Major an invitation from a fake admirer.
We wait for them to crack out the bentanol and then we catch him in the act.
With respect, not only are those ethics somewhat dubious.
Sod the ethics! But what woman in her right mind would submit herself to such a dangerous endeavour? I shall do it.
Clam, no.
Nonsense, I insist! If I can prevent another lone woman from being murdered, then That is absolutely courageous of you, but it would be risky and dangerous.
You're on.
Good, I shall see to the custard.
She's perfect.
Are the Great Slaughter Police really so under-resourced that we would use a civilian in a hunt-trap operation? You said "we".
What? Seems you're one of us now.
So what do we think? There must be something here between milkmaid and Moulin Rouge.
Jolly well hope so.
Let's cook the Major up an invitation he can't refuse.
So how would you describe yourself, Vera? Tidy, churchgoing, spinster.
Put trim, ballroom dancing, bon viveur.
Very good.
The voice of an expert.
Don't forget he has a type.
Put curvaceous and homely, likes hugging and baking.
Dreadful! Perfect.
I had my suspicions about that Major.
Do you know, he gets more letters than any other lonely heart, even "Stronger with Livestock" and "Tap Dancing Romeo.
" Focus, Colin.
That marcel isn't going to wave itself.
Sorry, mother.
Ready when you are.
I think this'll work.
What's your worry? Well just that a honey trap requires Well you you know honey.
Ready? Hells bells, Mrs C.
Where have you been hiding that figure? I'll thank you to rein in the profanity Ms.
Roger that.
Tempted to say that what you've both achieved leaves the loaves and the fishes somewhat in the shade.
We make a great team, don't we Colin? The best.
Dear Major Heart Sing, That's it, Mrs.
Really work it.
I noticed your advertisement.
Blow us a kiss.
I wish to invite you for supper.
Though somewhat beyond the first flush of youth, I'm told I still have a certain twinkle in my eye.
Dear Vera, I hope you won't think me forward in calling you by your Christian name.
So enchanted was I by your letter, that I feel we are already friends.
Needless to say, I should be delighted to accept your invitation.
Bear in mind that barbital has no antidote.
Lethal dose is a mere 55 grains.
Do not drink the sherry.
Because otherwise we will have to do the dubious honour of gastric lavage.
How about a role-play? Shall we, role-play? So I'll be Major.
Imagine that the date is going swimmingly, and I'm about to strike.
Uh, splendid vol-au-vents, Vera.
Do have another, Major.
Don't mind if I do.
Time for a top-up, wouldn't you say? Now you'll need a reason to excuse yourself for a moment.
I think I need a lie down.
Well, don't come on too strong.
No, I think I really do need a lie down.
Might I suggest that if things get too much, Mrs.
Clam could utter a safe word? And then we will intervene.
Good idea.
I like the word somnambulant or owl.
A word that is germane to the scenario.
Well, can't I just say help? Macaroni.
The safe word is macaroni.
Macaroni? Macaroni.
Courage, Vera.
That was just Peggy.
We have some digging to do.
Godspeed, all! Macaroni, macaroni.
Chin up, poor thing.
Only nine more to go.
Nine fields and only one of you sister.
Yes, I do sometimes think an extra one or two would help.
One of me could do the carrying.
Another could do the map reading.
I can do the measuring.
I should be in charge of digging.
I'll gather samples.
Oh, put me down for tea and tiffin.
You all right, sister? Yes.
I suppose it has been a long day.
Perhaps it's time for a slice of Battenberg.
Oh, now you're talking.
Vera! Major.
You're even prettier in person.
Oh, nonsense.
May I? Oh yes.
Do come in.
Of course they prefer to be shown no mercy.
I cut their heads off, bury them in my cellar, then dig them up when the time is right.
What? The tubers, the dahlias.
I grew them myself.
Something of a hobby.
Tell me about your interests.
I imagine your Foxtrot is quite something, from the looks of you.
My Foxtrot is strictly off limits! Sciatica.
Ah, my sympathy.
I fear my dancing days are also behind me, but still plenty of lead in my pencil so to speak.
I shall just pop on some Mantovani and then go and warm the oven.
That one's number 17.
Yes, some intriguing nematodes, but not what we're looking for.
Okay, next? Number nine.
Like a very boring game of bingo.
Bingo, Peggy my girl! Number nine? Erm, that's Crooked Mile Field.
So it is, yes.
Oh my.
Didn't leave your Wellies in the rain again, did you sister? No, Peggy.
I fear a far greater oversight has occurred.
Aren't we supposed to go in? We need to let it play out Abort! Abort! Really? Abort! Abort, abort! We are in the middle of The killer isn't Major Travis! What? Well, rather it is Major Travis, just not that one.
Oh gosh, you weren't wrong.
You certainly are nimble.
Macaroni! I think dinner can wait, don't you? You may consider me easy pickings, Major, but you will not indulge your hideous perversions in my parlour! Excuse me? Yes.
I belong to a generation of unwed women who've been put out to grass, but we shall not be silenced, and we shall certainly not be murdered! Mrs.
Clam! Yes, let's find you a towel.
So this is the field that the mud's on? Crooked Mile Field.
A the railway line cuts right through the middle.
So he makes sure that the conductor stamps his ticket, and then he gets off the train a stop early.
And then headed back to Lois's, across country.
But I simply can't see how Colin has been passing himself off as Major Travis.
Not to mention he's 20 years too young.
Colin? You mean hair and makeup Colin? The architect of my lonely hearts persona? Let's make some tea, shall we? Tea Oh, of course.
The cornflour, to whiten the hair! Yes! I say, Colin's been studying the Major for some time.
Learning his mannerisms and whatnot.
Quite the performance.
A tragedy at that.
Time for his curtain call.
Yes? Well, he's not at his desk.
Fine, give me a sec.
Fight over, I just spoke to Peggy.
Safe and sound.
Everything all right? Never better! You have to catch me first! Oh, get lost, Colin! It's not even nine o'clock.
Sweet, it's Inspector Gillespie.
Is Colin not at home? No, I told him Asked him to stay out.
One-to-one rehearsal.
It's a very challenging scene.
Do you have any idea where Colin is? No.
Looking for these? I believe you have something of mine.
Perhaps we could do an exchange.
And what if I say no? Are you going to do to me what you did to those other women? Heaven's no.
You're not at all the Major's type.
You're nothing but a coward! Colin, please! Ruth! Show's over, Colin.
Take him away.
You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so, but what you say may Slow gentle breaths, soldier.
I'm fine.
Nothing worse than a broken fingernail.
I'm so sorry I let that happen to you.
So, Rodolfo came on the scene and you were jealous, angry.
You felt replaced, betrayed.
He hasn't even learned his lines.
Where'd you get the bentanol from? Mother had a stash.
I remember watching her take it at bedtime, always the same teacup.
The Lily sent of the cold cream, the bliss on her face.
She drifted into oblivion.
So the cold cream wasn't about making your victims anonymous.
It was about turning them to Ida, a version of Ida that you could control.
Like she controlled you.
Mother never forgave me.
For what? She had ambitions, Shaftesbury Avenue, Broadway.
But father ran off and she had to ditch it all to look after me.
Times were tough.
She was good at spotting talent, and my talent was jigsaw puzzles.
She started drinking heavily.
Prize money was a lifeline.
Second place means you lost.
Let's not let nerves get the better of us again, shall we? It's a sad story.
But people have worse mothers than yours.
You don't see them plying women with barbiturates and watching them die.
You know, I've never hurt mother.
I love her, despite how she's been carrying on.
Honestly, it's unseemly.
Unseemly? Three women are dead.
Oh dear.
You're hurting.
You feel you failed.
We've so much in common.
No, we're done.
And you're in jail, hopefully for the rest of your life.
I don't fear incarceration.
After all, a lock is just another puzzle.
Put the pieces in the correct order and it's open sesame.
Ready? Not bad news I hope? It's from the Major.
Oh dear.
Dry cleaning bill? May I? Dear Vera, so taken was I by your pluck and fortitude, not to mention your delightful hors d'oeuvres, that I would wish to see See you again.
There's only one mom that I want to see again.
Today would have been Cyril's 70th birthday.
I expected to be surrounded by children and grandchildren by now.
He was a brave man.
The bravest.
And the best.
He would've been proud of you.
Come along! Those bells aren't going to ring themselves.

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