Jessica's friend, police Lt. O'Malley, and his rookie niece solve the case of a businessman's wife's apparent suicide.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Det. Sgt. Vinnie Grillo
Gretchen Trent
Cindy Marsh
Officer Frances Xavier Rawley
Lt. James Ignatius O'Malley
James Carroll Jordan ...
Paul G. Abbott
Roland Trent
David Kingston
Francesca P. Roberts ...
Alice Montrose
Capt. Sam Cohen
Howard Schechter ...
Detective Rush
Female Reporter
Male Reporter


Jessica gets a letter from her old friend New York City police Det. Lt. James O'Malley who recounts his latest brush with dismissal. He investigates the death, an apparent suicide, of Gretchen Trent, wife of the very rich Roland Trent. O'Malley isn't at all convinced it's a suicide and his niece Frances Rawley, who he has just recruited to the detective squad, agrees. O'Malley is right of course but Trent uses the detective's reputation for ruffling feathers to sideline his investigation. O'Malley seemingly oversteps the mark when at a press conference he publicly accuses Trent of having killed his wife. It seems to be a career-ending move but O'Malley knows exactly what he's doing...and who the killer is. Written by garykmcd

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Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

25 March 1990 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Some may have wondered if the overbearing property billionaire "Roland Trent", played by Ron Leibman, is meant to remind us of Donald Trump. The assonance of the name and the fact that the character owns his own skyscraper may be clues. See more »

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User Reviews

Finally, an Efficient Police Department
3 February 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) introduces this book-end episode involving a case highlighted by an NYPD associate, who encloses the letter in an Irish-flavored belated birthday card. Jessica, however, does not summarize the account (unless a summary has been deleted from "MSW" syndicated re-runs).

So, this becomes a one-sided book-end episode, but not to worry, for a metal book-end ornament is used for this story's murder weapon. Voila, a set of book-ends, and an above-average set at that.

Pat Hingle delivers a refreshingly great performance as Lieutenant James Ignatius O'Malley (who corresponds with Jessica, and serves as guest sleuth, along with his niece).

Officer Frances Xavier Rawley (Stacy Edwards), the niece of James O'Malley, receives a demotion on the NYPD, after NYC Deputy Mayor's Aide Paul G. Abbott (James Carroll Jordan) harasses her in his office and turns the tables when she refuses to acquiescence.

Secretary Ruth (Francesca P. Roberts) empathizes with the departing Frances, but Ruth advices her to forget about Paul for Frances' own peace of mind because Paul records his every office conversation to use against would-be accusers.

Captain Sam Cohen (Philip Sterling) serves as chief officer at the precinct employing James O'Malley, and once again, Frances, after James rises to her defense to promote her back to investigating corruption in the ranks, and murder, once a body lands upon the sidewalks of a fashionable New York City district.

Wise-cracking Detective Sergeant Vinnie Grillo (Jay Acovone) tries to get the better of Frances at times, but in a good, clean and entertaining way, quite unlike the methods of Paul G. Abbott. Detective Rush (Howard Schecter) also serves with the team and can be seen on the sidewalk on the night of the murder, as he reports information to James and Frances.

In addition to Abbott, the case involves Trent Real Estate Company and a murder inside its office penthouse designed to appear as a suicide. But O'Malley, Frances and Vinnie have other theories, to the dismay of Captain Cohen, and, of course, Trent Real Estate Company.

A calculating Roland Trent (Ron Leibman) serves as his organization's director, with his neglected wife, Gretchen Trent (Eileen Barnett), who pleads with him to try to make a go of things. They each have private secretaries. Gretchen employs the loyal Alice Montrose (Carolyn Seymour), while Roland employs one quite possibly not loyal to Gretchen, such as his mistress, Cindy Marsh (Pamela Bowen), who designs to wreck Roland and Gretchen's marriage for her own advancement.

David Kingston (Nicholas Pryor) serves as Attorney to Roland Trent, as Roland keeps no secrets of his ambitions with Cindy from David, who is also spotted around Paul Abbott's office by Frances, before she discovers his connection with Roland Trent.

Close relatives James Ignatius O'Malley and Frances Xavier Rawley make a loving team except, perhaps, in the eyes of Captain Sam Cohen or Detective Sergeant Vinnie Grillo...or anyone associated with Trent Real Estate...or Paul Abbott's office with the exception of Ruth.

O'Malley spots clues to counter the assertion that the victim's leap from the penthouse equates to a suicide, studying the note and the book-ends and interviewing suspects, as does Frances, and quite capably.

But when James O'Malley announces to reporters on a televised interview allegations of his target suspect, whom he names forthright, no holds are barred, and the remains of the murder investigation are subject to vehement confrontation and "O'malley's Luck."

The cast is rounded out by Tiiu Leek as Reporter, Valerie Redding as Reporter, Brian Avery as Reporter, and Steve Whiteford as Reporter.

This episode represents the only acting credit by Valerie Redding, as well as the first of two "MSW" guest roles each for Stacy Edwards, Ron Leibman and Tiiu Leek, the second of two each for Brian Avery and Howard Schecter, the first of three for Jay Acovone, the second of three each for Carolyn Seymour, Pat Hingle and Nicholas Pryor, and the fourth of four for James Carroll Jordan.

Philip Sterling, acting in film and on television since 1949, and Pat Hingle, acting since 1954, have unfortunately since passed.

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