A body in the library in ‘Murder, She Wrote’

I love the classic TV series, “Murder, She Wrote” (1984-1996). The character of Jessica Fletcher? Angela Lansbury? Angela Lansbury’s repertoire of facial expressions? LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Lansbury ReactionsThere’s even a Twitter account, Lansbury Reactions, shining the spotlight on her priceless facial expressions. Genius!

I recently had a “Murder, She Wrote” TV marathon going on in the background while I worked on other things (they regularly run classic TV marathons on the Hallmark channel). By the way, I don’t believe in “guilty pleasures” — there’s no guilt or shame in liking what you like, and no apologies.

So I’m sure you can imagine my delight when a reel librarian appeared onscreen! The episode “Family Secrets,” which was the second episode of Season 9 and aired in September 1992, opens in the local public library.

Here’s the episode write-up from IMDB.com:

“One of Jessica’s former students is murdered when he returns to Cabot Cove to write a book exposing new information on a 30-year-old town scandal.”

The episode opens with a bird’s-eye view of the local public library, dark and stuffed to the gills with bookcases, furniture, and piles on tables.


Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from an episode of 'Murder She Wrote'

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from an episode of 'Murder She Wrote'

Jessica is typing on a laptop (!) and looking over a stack of books. Behind her creeps up a librarian, complete with thick bottle glasses and a buttoned-up cardigan.

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from an episode of 'Murder She Wrote'

Librarian:  Ms. Fletcher? Ms. Fletcher?

Jessica:  I’m sorry, Arnold, I’m guess it’s getting to be that time.

Librarian:  I’m afraid so. Still looking for that perfect poison?

Jessica:  Oh, yes. I know it’s here somewhere, deadly, exotic, virtually impossible to detect.

Librarian:  Until the murderer gets caught on the last page.

Jessica:  You’ve been reading my books! I’ll just gather my stuff together.

Librarian:  No hurry. I just wanted you to know that I’m leaving. Just be sure and lock up when you’re finished.

Jessica:  Oh fine, thank you, Arnold, I’ll do that… See you tomorrow, Arnold!

My immediate reaction to this opening scene:  Ummm, WHAT??!! I know I’m going to get all capsy on y’all. While I’m glad to see the librarian — and a less common portrayal of a male librarian — enjoying a friendly rapport with Jessica, there is NO WAY I would allow a patron to stay in a library after hours. Not even for my beloved Jessica Fletcher. (Unless she were a librarian. And Jessica Fletcher would have been an AWESOME librarian.)

It’s just unrealistic to expect a librarian to NOT do a thorough walk through the library before closing time and secure everything and (kindly but firmly) escort any remaining patrons out. There’s the issue of library assets, for one thing.

And for another, the prevention of murder.

This is evidenced by a scene halfway through the episode, when a nosy former student, Randy, winds up dead in the library.

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from an episode of 'Murder She Wrote'

But we do get to see Randy a few times before he winds up dead. We first meet him in the library in the episode’s opening scene, after Jessica is left to lock up the library. Randy had gotten “lost in the old files” while researching. We see Randy in the library again on the night he died, table full of materials that he tries to hide from the prying eyes of Arnold.

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from an episode of 'Murder She Wrote'

I guess Arnold wasn’t the only one interested in Randy’s research. Someone figured out Randy would be researching in the library past closing hours and took advantage of an opportunity… Methinks that locking up the library properly could have helped prevent that murder.

Or is the librarian the murderer? He is immediately pegged as a suspect, because he was jealous of Randy’s success. We learn that on the night Randy died, when Arnold brings up the past:

Arnold:  I was just remembering how we would take all those writing classes together. We’d always share notes and talk about how we were both going to make it big time. Then you went off to Portland to become a hot-shot reporter, while I… well, you know.

Randy:  Arnold, we earn our big breaks. And this is mine. Yours will come, huh?

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from an episode of 'Murder She Wrote'

I also groaned aloud when Arnold opened up the library the next morning, right before discovering Randy’s body:

“That’s funny, the door’s open. Randy said he’d lock up when he finished last night.”

Way to blame the murder victim! In fact, the expression on my face probably looked similar to this:

Lansbury Reactions tweet

Click the photo for the animated GIF. It’s worth it!

So did the reel librarian commit murder in his own library? I won’t spoil the ending for you. I would never deny y’all the opportunity to watch an episode of “Murder, She Wrote.” 😉

Happy sleuthing!


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