Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries S02E08 - The Blood of Juana the Mad

Warning: Contains spoilers! 
This episode is based (very loosely) on the short story The hours of Juana the Mad from A Question of Death: An Illustrated Phryne Fisher Treasury.  

The episode kick off with Dr Mac teaching a group of students with Professor Bradbury. They have a body ready to autopsy but when Dr Mac pulls back the sheet covering the body instead of a cadaver it is revealed to be Professor Katz. 

Credits roll

Phryne arrives at the university to see one of the students Beatrice being taunted by two male students. Beatrice pushes them away and another student Charlie Street comes to her aid.. Phryne meets Dr Mac who is still with the body and asks what happened. Dr Mac tells her she went to retrieve the cadaver who she thought to be a 32 year old woman and it turned out to be Professor Katz. Jack arrives with Professor Bradbury who tells him Professor Katz was well respected. Jack greets Phryne and says he didn't know she was on the case. Phryne tells him likewise and she could have left it to him but Dr Mac says she called them both in because she wants them to work together. Jack ask who had access to the furnace room (where Professor Katz' body was found) and Professor Bradbury tells him  staff and a key was kept in the cabinet. Phryne checks and the key is missing. Jack asks Professor Bradbury to assemble is senior students for questioning and leaves. Phryne goes to leave but Dr Mac stops her and asks her what is going on with her and Jack. Phryne tells her how Jack thought she had killed herself in a car accident and now is running scared. 

Jack is with the assembled students talking to Amos Oliver. Amos tells Jack the only one he should be talking to isn't there, Beatrice Mason who he says is mad as a March hare. Amos says he never would have killed the 'old coot'. Phryne arrives and questions Charlie Street who is Professor Bradbury's research assistant. Phryne asks him where she can find Professor Katz' office and heads out. 

Phryne is heading to the office when she bumps into Jack who is also going to Katz' office. He promises to keep his distance and Phryne suggests he walks two steps behind. When the arrive at the office Hugh is baring the door and Beatrice is there trying to get 'the book'. She says she is Katz' research assistant and needs it for her research. Hugh refuses to let her in and Jack tells her they are there on police business. Beatrice becomes agitated and is jostled by the police men which causes her to panic and she tells them not to touch her. Phryne introduces herself to Beatrice. Jack asks Beatrice to stay with Hugh and he and Phryne enter the office. 

Inside they see a glass that has been knocked over spilling its contents on the floor. Phryne comments that it looks like they have just missed someone. Phryne notices that one of the pictures on the wall is crooked and Jack removes it revealing a safe. Meanwhile Beatrice evades Hugh's watch and enters the office. She tells them the safe is where Katz locked up the book of hours of Juana the Mad, a 16th century manuscript. She says Katz locked up the book because the disagreed as he said he found it in a monastery in Catalonia but Beatrice had found modern restorations and altered text in the book. Geoffrey Spall the college treasurer arrives telling them that Katz changed the combination to the safe every day. Phryne uses a glass to listen and breaks into the safe. She opens it to reveal just one page of the book. Beatrice takes the page and storms from the room and Phryne heads after her.

Phryne catches up with Beatrice in the corridor. Beatrice is hiding up against a pillar. Phryne asks Beatrice if she is alright as Beatrice seems to be having a panic attack and Beatrice tells her there are too many people and people are confusing. Phryne joins Beatrice at the pillar and Beatrice calms down but then she notices more spots of blood leading down the corridor. Beatrice notices the splashes of blood are getting larger and Phryne says whoever was leaving them was heading to the office not away from it. Phryne calls Jack as Beatrice follows the blood trail. Phryne notices a table with a number of swords on and wonders if one of them was the murder weapon. Jack checks one of the blades and sees it is covered in blood. He gives it to Hugh to take as evidence. Mr Spall arrives but Hugh stops him. 

Phryne and Jack follow after Beatrice and notice blood splatters on one of the gargoyles on the arches outside. Jack says this is where the murder must have happened but somehow it got from there to the anatomy furnace.  They catch up with Beatrice who tells them Katz was exsanguinated right where she is standing. Phryne asks Beatrice if there is somewhere they can go to clean her shoes which are now covered in blood. Beatrice realises she is standing in the blood and faints. Jack catches her. 

Charlie shows Phryne and Jack to the Vice Deans office where they can lay Beatrice down. Phryne asks if Beatrice would be more comfortable at home but Charlie tells her she is fine. Hugh arrives telling Jack Professor Bradbury has asks to see him and he leaves. Charlie also leaves attempting to sneak something out of the room at the same time but Phryne spots him. Phryne tells Hugh to follow Charlie. Beatrice comes around and asks who has touched her things. She gets agitated and Phryne calms her down. Beatrice moves a cushion on the couch and finds a dead rat. Phryne tells her not to be afraid as it is dead and Beatrice tells her they are always dead. She says Oliver is always playing tricks on her like this. Phryne asks Beatrice where she lives and she says she leased a flat in Carlton but had to vacate because they said she set a fire in the kitchen by leaving the oven on. She says she sometimes uses the Vice Deans office to sleep and she prefers it because it is further from the street so no one can watch her. Phryne asks who would be watching and Beatrice says she has never seen them.

Phryne arrives in the dining room where Jack is with Professor Bradbury and Mr Spall. The murder weapon is laid on the table. Jack asks Bradbury what Katz kept in the safe and Bradbury says the skull for the half yearly exam was in there. Bradbury says students have to make clinical observations on the skull and each is engraved with a catalogue number. Phryne asks if Katz had locked up the skull because he was worried about students cheating and Bradbury says the exams determined the winner of the medical prize so was more critical than most. Mr Spall tells them that some students whole lives depend on their academic performance like Charlie Street as he is on a scholarship. 

Hugh follows Charlie and sees him drop something in the flower bed. Hugh tells Charlie to stop and pick up the item which turns out to be a chain with the key to the furnace on. Hugh takes Charlie down to the station.

Phryne and Jack are leaving the college and Jack asks her where Hugh is Phryne feigns ignorance and Jack tells her it would be easier if she left him to investigate alone. Phryne reminds him that they wouldn't have been able to open the safe without her or find the blood trail and says she help Hugh and Jack cuts her off. Phryne asks if he really wants her to go and Jack says he needs her to go so Phryne agrees. 

Phryne goes to check on Beatrice and asks if she would like to come home with her. Beatrice asks if she can bring all her papers and her own food and Phryne agrees. Beatrice says she will consider it and slams the door on Phryne.

Back at home Phryne asks Dot if there is any sign of their house guest but Dot says no. Beatrice arrives suddenly saying she came in the back door as she thought she was being followed. Phryne introduces Beatrice to Dot and Dot offers her tea and scones but Beatrice refuses saying she only eats jam sandwiches. Phryne asks Beatrice why anyone would follow her and Beatrice says whoever it is wants the book of hours as she had the book before Katz locked it up. Beatrice says someone ransacked her flat looking for it. Phryne ask if she saw them but Beatrice says no but things had been moves and then they started leaving notes but the notes were burnt in the kitchen fire. Dot tries to touch one of Beatrice's books but Beatrice shouts at her telling her she needs to wear gloves. She said Katz liked old books and knew to wear gloves and he shared her interest in diseases of the mind and agreed with her that Juana wasn't mad.   

At the station Jack asks Charlie how he got the key to the furnace. Charlie says he had nothing to do with Katz' murder and they have no proof. Jack tells him that they have proof he was attempting to dispose of evidence and tells Hugh to charge Charlie with being an accessory to murder. Jack tells Charlie they will have to inform Professor Bradbury and hopes it won't affect his future at the college. Charlie confesses he found the key with Beatrice's things. He says he thinks Amos put it there. Charlie says Amos is the golden boy of the college as his family have a lot of money but Katz was trying to have him expelled for cheating. 

Back at Phryne's house Beatrice has her notes spread over Phryne's dinning room table. Dot brings in tea saying they have been busy and Beatrice tells them the notes are the words from the book but they are unfinished.  She says the stories are from the bible so Dot would be familiar with them. Dot gives Beatrice her jam sandwich but Beatrice puts it down. She shows them how some of the letter are in red but on every third page some letters have been changed from black to red. Phryne asks what it means but Beatrice says she doesn't know but hopes whoever was following her will leave her alone now as it was probably them that robbed the safe. Phryne asks who else knows about her notes and Beatrice says she showed Katz before he locked up the book. At that moment they are interrupted by a thud and find Mr Butler collapsed at the kitchen table face down in a jam sandwich.  They call Dr Mac who says it is a heavy dose of sleeping pills Phryne tells Mac they think Beatrice's jam which was an anonymous gift left in pigeon hole. Dr Mac says Beatrice is very particular but she doesn't imagine things but is volatile. Phryne asks if Beatrice would hurt Katz and Mac says if she did she would not lie about it.   

At the police station Jack is question Amos about Katz trying to have him expelled. Amos says he has good results, they can ask Bradbury and being a doctor is in his blood. Jack reminds him that this years tests were being held but Katz not Bradbury and asks where he was the night before. Amos says he was in his room all night. He says he has a witness as Beatrice came to harass him and is clearly a nymphomaniac. He says after she slept in his room. After interviewing Amos Jack goes to ask Hugh if he has tracjed down Beatrice and Hugh tells him Beatrice is at Phryne's house.

Jack goes to question Beatrice about her whereabouts the night before and Beatrice confirms she was in Amos' room from 6.05pm. Jack asks if they were both there the whole night. Beatrice tells him she was and that she wanted to return to her research but her evening didn't go to plan. Jack tells her that Amos claimed she seduced him and Beatrice says she doesn't remember that she just went to his room and asked him if she could lie down as she was so tired. Phryne asks Beatrice why she went to Amos' room and Beatrice says that Mr Spall has told her Amos had invited her to apologise. Beatrice leaves to return to her research and Phryne and Mac tell Jack that Beatrice would have no seduced Amos as she doesn't like to be touched. Phryne wonders if Amos drugged Beatrice to provide him with an alibi for the murder. Phryne gives Jack Beatrice's jam to test for sleeping pills. 

Later that night Beatrice is up working on her research when the lights in the house go out. She goes to flick the light switch and is grabbed by someone all in black. The sound of her struggle wakes Phryne and she races downstairs as Beatrice is being strangled by her assailant. Phryne hits the man over the head with a vase but her pushes her off before grabbing Beatrice's research and running. Dot comes downstairs in time to find both Phryne and Beatrice doubled over. Phryne has managed to grab the assailants scarf. Phryne says the handkerchief reeks of tobacco which is spiced with vanilla, pipe tobacco and asks Beatrice who she knows who smokes a pipe. 

The next day Jack is questioning Mr Spall at the college. Jack asks Spall if he was aware of a relationship between Amos and Beatrice. Spall tells him that Amos probably has a lot of admirers but if Beatrice spent the night she will be in trouble. Phryne arrives and says it is even more troubling if Beatrice was drugged. Phryne tells Jack about the intruder who tried to strangle Beatrice and stole her notes. She presents the handkerchief which smells of  pipe tobacco with vanilla and asks Mr Spall about his pipe smoking habit. Jack asks Mr Spall for his pipe and Phryne sees the scents match. Jack begins to questions Spall about his whereabouts the night before. Spall says he was in all night working on the finances until late. Jack then asks about Spall's relationship with Beatrice and he says they didn't get along as she refused to let him see Katz on numerous occasions and due to Katz insistence on educating the working classes the college was struggling financially. Phryne says the missing book of hours which is extremely valuable would help with financial difficulties. Spall agrees and says the book bought the university lots of prestige so they should concentrate on finding that and asks to be dismissed. As Spall leaves Hugh arrives to tell Jack Professor Bradbury wants to see him in the anatomy lab and Jack asks Hugh to search Spall's office. 

Phryne tracks down Hugh who is carrying a box of Mr Spall's belongings. Phryne attempts to look through the boxs but Hugh wont let her so she knocks it out of his hands. As the pick it up Jack approaches and Phryne notices a dossier Spall is keeping on all of his colleagues. Phryne wonders is takings the book was not about money and if it was some other significance.  

At the police station Jack is checking into Spall's backgrounds and found he went to Oxford to do maths and then was a naval cryptographer. It seems Spall is collecting evidence on his colleagues for someone and the drug in Beatrice's jam was a truth serum. All evidence points towards the fact Spall is a spy.

Back at home Phryne asks Beatrice about the alterations in the book. Phryne asks if the alterations could be some sort of code. Beatrice says she copied down a list of the altered letters in the book before her notes were stolen. Beatrice shows Phryne the list.

Phryne returns to the college and shows Jack and Hugh the list and they confront Spall with it but Spall states it means nothing to him. Spall says he served his country in the military but he wasn't using the book and all the evidence they have against him is circumstantial. He says they should question Beatrice and Charlie as they were both 'thick as thieves'. Spall leaves and Hugh dashes off to use the facilities. Whilst in the bathroom he sees a skull with a page from the book rolled up in its mouth on the shelf. Jack and Phryne show Mac the skull and the category number Bradbury had supplied.  Mac says the numbers match but she doesn't recognise the cataloging system. Mac says she will take the skull to the lab to check it is the missing one. Charlie arrives and checks his mail and Phryne goes over to him to ask how his studies are going. Charlie thanks her for taking Beatrice in and says he must dash off to a lecture. Phryne follows him suspicious and Jack follows them both. On her way Phryne finds another page of the book and then another. She continues to follow the trail and sees Charlie digging up the book. Spall has noticed him too and threatens Charlie with a gun telling him to hand over the book. Charlie tells him he hasn't got it. Jack arrives at the scene and whilst Phryne distracts Spall he tackles him to the ground. Charlie continues to dig and finds the book buried among the university roses.

Back the station Hugh locks up Spall and Jack asks him what is so important about the book that he would shoot a man. Spall simply tells him that he is out of his depth and Katz killer is still out there. Jack and Hgh then question Charlie and ask him how he knew the books whereabouts. Charlie says he didn't but he got a note in his mail saying look where the old coot died He shows Jack the note which is written on a page of the book. Jack remember Amos calling Katz an old coot so they call him in. 

Jack and Phryne question Amos at the university and ask why he took the book and killed Katz but Amos says he did not kill Katz. He says he was only after the skull and used the book to torment Charlie. Amos says when Beatrice arrived at his room that night demanding an apology he thought it was Katz doing so he went to confront him but when he arrived at Katz office he wasn't there and the skull and the book were on his desk so he took them. Jack asks Amos how he got caught if he is so smart. 

Back at home Phryne, Jack and Beatrice attempt to crack the code in the book which the think says Williams and Corbet - double agents. Jack says Williams and Corbet were airmen that went down in the Battle of the Wrasse in April 1917. Phryne sees the code says plp or pulp which is code for assassination so it seems they may have met a different fate. 

Jack questions Spall as to whether people would be interested to find out two supposed heroes were murdered by there own side for treachery but Spall says she war was a long time ago and the bureau  would deny all knowledge of the book and him. Jack asks if Spall murdered Katz for an invisible master and Spall says he would have once but they are wrong and he didn't try to get his hands on the book until after Katz was dead when he found it missing from the safe so he closed the safe and knocked over the glass on his way out. Jack then receives a call from Sir Basil telling him to release Mr Spall. Hugh goes to release Spall telling him Dr Mac telephone earlier saying she needed to see Jack and Phryne at the college. 

Phryne and Jack arrive at the college and Mac tells them the skull category number is american. Charlie arrives and tells them that is because the skull is from Hartley University and it wasn't meant for the exam Katz was just keeping it safe from somebody.

Phryne and Dr Mac then go to talk to Professor Bradbury and ask them about the skull. Bradbury says the skull is an aberration that undermines a lifetime of research he was presenting to the national symposium. Bradbury says he had told Charlie to incinerate the skull but Charlie gave it to Katz. Bradbury saw Katz with the skull and confronted him. Katz ran and Bradbury chased after him grabbing one of the swords on the way and killed him but when he returned to the office the skull and the book of hours were missing so he planted the key among Beatrice's things. Bradbury says Beatrice was mad and modern medicine should only promote the best traits of the race. Phryne asks what modern medicine would do to Beatrice and he says prevent her from breeding. Mac asks if he thinks the same of the woman who owned the skull as she was an American Negro woman and Bradbury thought they had an underdeveloped brain. Mac says the skull belongs to the first African-American woman to graduate with honors from Hartley. Bradbury gets agitated and says the skull is a hoax and Jack comes to arrest him but Bradbury pushes Jack out of the way and grabs the skull and runs. 
Phryne and Jack chase him down. They hop on a motorbike and chase him down, apprehending him.
That night back at Phryne's house Mac is reading the file that Spall kept on her. Mac says she never liked Spall but she did admire Bradbury. Jack asks why Bradbury would encourage a woman if his research is all about race and gender superiority. Dr Mac says procreation as Bradbury's running joke was asking her when she was going to settle down and raise a family. Mac says the medical faculty had been decimated and Amos has been expelled so his father's money will go with him. Jack asks about Beatrice and Mac says she is the inaugural recipient of the Fisher research scholarship so between Beatrice and Charlie the universities reputation should be salvaged or she will have to go out and procreate with the nearest brilliant white male. Mac looks at Jack and says don't worry that wont happen in a hurry although he would be her first choice and leaves. Phryne asks Jack what kind of partners they will be from now on - two steps in front, two behind or perhaps a do-si-do. Jack says perhaps a waltz and Phryne asks not a tango as a good waltz is slow and close and Jack tells her he will try to stay in step all the same.  

1 comment:

  1. thanks for writing this. though i dont understand the importance of manuscript in relation to the murders and the women (beatrice and the negro women who was mudered hence the skull in the plot)