27 January 2013

Jack in the Box

This is the first of several locked room mysteries. Being a nuclear bunker set into a cliff this is probably the most secure room of all, but in these cases the answer is usually inside already.

First Scene
An old guy in a brightly-lit park has various slapstick accidents involving a deckchair, ogling a pretty girl, and a banana skin. It's a rather silly an advert for bananas.
Jack Holiday
Who died?
Jack Holiday (played by John Bluthal, who also played Frank in the Vicar of Dibley). A cheesy old comedian whose dated humour and slapstick performances are no longer popular.

What's weird?
Jack was found shot through the head, on his own, locked inside his nuclear bunker. Suicide surely?
His current wife insists he couldn't possibly have shot himself as advanced arthritis meant he couldn't possibly pull the trigger. This is later backed up by an ad director who was working with Jack, the comedian needed a stunt double just to peel a banana.
Alan Rokesmith, who was jailed for the murder of Jack's first wife 9 years previously, was just released after his conviction was overturned.

Kirsten Holiday
Kirsten Holiday (Jack's second wife) believes that Rokesmith somehow murdered Jack.
Maddy reckons that it was suicide, and that Jack had some kind of device that allowed him to pull the trigger. She suggests it wasn't found with his body because it was on elastic and went down the waste pipe of the toilet. Jonathan points out there wouldn't be any reason to do that if he was simply committing suicide. There are many easier ways Jack could have killed himself.

What Maddy did
Rokesmith (released) with his sister & Maddy
Maddy worked with Alan Rokesmith's sister to prove his innocence. She tracked down a prostitute who provided him with an alibi, leading to Rokesmith's release. After Jack's death Maddy received a very angry letter from Kirsten Holiday who blames Maddy for her husband's death.
She wants to prove neither she nor Rokesmith had anything to do with Jack's death, so she calls Jonathan and suggests they drive down to the coast. Once they arrive she ropes him into visiting Kirsten Holiday and investigating. The locked room mystery is right up Jonathan's street, plus Kirsten hates Maddy.
She investigates by speaking to the builder of the very secure nuclear bunker and to the ad director who was working with Jack.
As she and Jonathan discuss the case on a coastal path it starts to rain heavily making them run to her car. Maddy then discovers that she's lost her car keys on the walk and they are forced to squelch to a B&B for the night.

What Jonathan Saw
Jack Holiday's house contains devices and special pens to help with his arthritis. Jack's writing is on old scripts that are displayed in glass cases, along with photos and other memorabilia from his career.

The bunker is unfinished, the interior fittings were never done. The toilet wasn't installed and the waste pipe seems to be in the wrong place. Among the boxed supplies there's a 100W light bulb in a 40W box.

Further Weirdness
Alan Rokesmith went on a sailing trip to relish his freedom. His sister visits to find the house empty, with diary entries up until the previous day. Later the police find the boat he'd rented wrecked on the rocks.
Maddy visits Rokesmith's sister and picks up his correspondence from when he was in prison. These include letters about fudge, which he had always hated. In the B&B Jonathan notices the stamps have been moved and steams them off. There are 3 cryptic messages written under the stamps, which someone didn't want the prison authorities to see.
"I'm so sorry about what has happened, I pray it will yet be resolved somehow. We must try to be patient."
"I know things are looking bad right now, but if the truth comes out it would be the end of everything. Don't give up hope."
"These are dark times, I appreciate your silence, and I'll stand by my pledge to you come what may."
Maddy wonders if Alan was having some kind of secret relationship.

While they're staying at the B&B Jonathan wakes up to find a melon with a large knife through it on the pillow next to him. Under the melon is a note saying Back Off.
When he tells Maddy about it she says that someone's afraid they're getting too close to the truth. Suddenly it all clicks in Jonathan's head (which is how it usually happens with him).
They both return to the bunker, despite Kirsten's shock at seeing Maddy, and Jonathan replaces the 100W bulb in the light fitting above the crime scene, then explains all.

Alan Rokesmith

Alan Rokesmith.
He was the one who killed Jack's first wife, but he did it as a contract killing for Jack, who was conveniently on a different continent at the time. Kirsten doesn't believe it, but Jack's closest friend Oliver confirms that the marriage was on the rocks.

The notes under the stamps were from Jack, Jonathan recognised the handwriting from the scripts in his house. Rokesmith had arranged for the new witness to come forward when Maddy investigated his case.

The case became easy to crack once Jonathan stopped assuming that the murderer planned to get away.
Rokesmith wanted to kill Jack and himself. He went down to the bunker a few days before Jack's death and dismantled the back wall, rebuilding it a few feet into the room, and leaving a gap he could get through. Jonathan's suspicions were aroused when he saw that the waste pipe was too close to the wall for the toilet to fit. The 40W bulb meant that the newness of the wall couldn't be seen, whereas the 100W bulb makes the difference easier to spot.
Rokesmith filled in his diary ahead of time so it would look like he had gone missing days after Jack died. He dragged Jack to the bunker, shot him, and then took some pills before quickly climbing into the gap he'd made and bricking himself inside. When the back wall is taken down, Rokesmith's body is found.

The note and the melon were the work of Jack's friend Oliver, who didn't want Jonathan and Maddy digging into Jack's history.

That Jonathan and Maddy Thing
Jonathan shows Maddy that he has the professional lock picking skills to remove a clamp. She then reveals that the clamp is actually hers, it's a lifesaver for parking. He confesses that he'd almost phoned her several times since they last met, but didn't quite have the nerve. He's happy that she wants to see him, but his mood sours when he finds out she's dragged him into another murder mystery.
Jonathan and Maddy are both restless in their separate rooms at the B&B. There's clearly chemistry between them but neither seems sure about acting on it. He hears someone coming into his room, but sleepily assumes it's Maddy (which is certainly what the viewers are led to believe) and doesn't do anything.


  1. Love this but it does have me thinking just one word when I read Maddy's elastic theory... "Why?"

    1. Yes, this is a good point. If Jack wanted to comit suicide there are much easier ways, he lives by some cliffs for a start.