Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Murder in a Minor Key 

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Jessica tells the story of her new novel about a composer accused of killing the professor who plagiarized his music.


Nick Havinga


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 6 more credits »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Rene Auberjonois ... Prof. Harry Papasian
Shaun Cassidy ... Chad Singer
Paul Clemens ... Michael 'Mike' Prentice
Herb Edelman ... Max Hellinger
Karen Grassle ... Christine Stoneham
George Grizzard ... Prof. Tyler Stoneham
Tom Hallick ... Vice Chancellor Simon
Jennifer Holmes Jennifer Holmes ... Reagan Miller
Scott Jacoby ... Danny Young
Dinah Manoff ... Jenny Coopersmith
Alex Henteloff Alex Henteloff ... Raymond Parnell
Brenda Thompson Brenda Thompson ... Pianist (as Brenda Thomson)
Paris Vaughan ... Pauline
William Hubbard Knight William Hubbard Knight ... Lt. Perkins


College music student Michael 'Mike' Prentice discovers that his professor, Tyler Stoneham, published a song based on one of his assignments as his own composition, under the alias Alden Gilbert, but can't prove the plagiarist theft. The professor's wife, Christine Stoneham, also suspects him of adultery. Professor Harry Papasian, Stoneham's assistant, is furious not to be mentioned as co-author on their new music dictionary. Stoneham is found stabbed to death in his office where Mike was looking for the original songs, enough for an arrest. His friend, law student Chad Singer, starts sleuthing, helped by a fellow music student who helps plagiarized song to Broadway. Christine actually has a secret affair herself with Vice Chancellor Simon. Musical producer Max Hellinger promises Papazian $5,000 to help find some Gilbert songs and Chad finds out. After the lyrics writer is traced, Chad stages an elaborate reconstruction to trick the killer. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

8 February 1987 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The first of fourteen bookend episodes, mostly seen during later seasons. Jessica tells us about her book and is only the narrator. You can see her at the beginning and at the end of the show, and a couple of times in between. See more »


[first lines]
Jessica Fletcher: Hello. I was just changing into something more comfortable. I've got a long night of reading ahead of me. Galleys on my new book. I don't know why they send me these things, because I am absolutely the world's worst proofreader.
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Murder She Wrote Theme
Written by John Addison
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User Reviews

Jessica tells a tale she's working on
4 April 2018 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

This episode has we viewers visiting the Cabot Cove home of JB Fletcher and having Angela Lansbury tell us the tale of a story she's working on.

It begins with three students Shaun Cassidy law student, Dinah Manoff who we never learn what her major is and Paul Clemens who is a music major. At a nice piano lounge bar Clemens hears a theme he submitted to his professor George Grizzard being played as a preview for a new Broadway score.

Clemens confronts Grizzard who blithely dismisses him. But of course Grizzard is the kind who would pull all kinds of dirt on people including wife Karen Grassle. But it's Clemens who gets caught by campus security in Grizzard's office with a dead Grizzard.

Law student Cassidy goes to work and such other folks as Broadway producer Herb Edelman, colleague Rene Auberjonois, and lyricist Jennifer Holmes are all suspect and their are others.

The solution, all a question of timing and geography.

This episode really looks like a pilot for another series with Shaun Cassidy who already had credits as a TV sleuth in the Hardy Boys a decade earlier. Too bad it wasn't picked up.

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