Yet another murder dashes Jessica's hopes for a restful break after a busy writing conference. The victim, Ed Bonner, had publicly humiliated another local boy, Matt Burns, and most of the townsfolk have already decided Matt murdered him, making tempers rise when the sheriff doesn't immediately file charges. Believing he's innocent, Jessica uses her skills to search out the real killer, in the hope of preventing the volatile situation from exploding into tragedy.
This episode includes examples of the following tropes:
- Blackmail Backfire: Ed Bonner witnessed Mr. Kelso kill his wife in a fit of rage. He suggested they bury her and claim she had left town. Then he began blackmailing him over it. After a while, it was too much and Mr. Kelso shot him.
- Did Not Die That Way: Ed appears to have been stabbed to death. Actually, he died from a gunshot wound, and the stab wounds were the result of the killer removing the very distinctive bullet.
- False Widow: Cassie Burns claims that her husband and Matt's father died in combat. Actually she never had a husband; Matt was born from a relationship she had with Professor Ames.
- Get Out!: Linda screams at her brother to leave the bar after he beats up and humiliates Matt.
- In the Back: Kelso shoots Ed in the back of the head, finally having gotten fed up with his blackmail.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Ed tells Matt to stay away from his sister, saying she's a bit of a floozy but he's not good enough for her. Matt attacks him and winds up getting beaten up and showered with beer in front of the whole bar.
- Percussive Therapy: When Linda brings Jessica to the farm, they find her and Ed's father working out his frustrations about his wayward son's murder by chopping firewood.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: While Sheriff Cox does get short with Jessica a few times, his impatience stems from trying to maintain the justice system under near-impossible conditions. He keeps Matthew locked up despite believing in his innocence to keep him safe from the townsfolk and listens to Jessica's theories.
- Teacher/Student Romance: Cassie Burns and Professor Ames were in a relationship during her graduate career, resulting in her giving birth to Matt. She made up a story about a nonexistent husband to cover it up.
- Til Murder Do Us Part: Mr. Kelso confronted his wife about his belief she had been cheating. When she laughed, he lost his temper, grabbed a nearby brass bookend, and swung at her.
- Vigilante Execution: Much of the tension stems from the townspeople wanting to lynch Matt. At one point, they gather outside the jail and order Sheriff Cox to bring him out or they'll storm the place.
- We Do Not Know Each Other: A variant; Cassie and Professor Ames pretend they don't know one another in any way except for Cassie having been Ames' student years ago. It doesn't fool Jessica.