Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Harbinger of Death 

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When a defense contractor is found murdered, Jessica must prove her nephew-in-law is innocent.


Anthony Pullen Shaw (as Anthony Shaw)


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 2 more credits »


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Episode cast overview:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
George DiCenzo ... Sgt. Kettler
Steven Ford ... Drake Eaton
Robin Gammell ... Dr. Thor Lundquist
Karen Grassle ... Fay Hewitt
Dean Jones ... Leonard Palmer
Kate McNeil ... Carrie Palmer
Marcia Rodd ... Madeline DeHaven
Jeffrey Tambor ... Russell Armstrong
Armand Asselin Armand Asselin ... Max
Kirk Thornton ... Forensic Man


Jessica visits her niece, Carrie Palmer, and her husband, Leonard Palmer, who actually forgot his own anniversary date, being an obsessively comets-devoted astronomy researcher at the Astro-Physics Institute where director Russell Armstrong and high-profile, high-maintenance careerist scientist, Dr. Thor Lindquist, who insists they attend the reception they hold to land a Defense contract Leonard disapproves of. That night, Leonard is seen rushing out without signing out or closing up his computer-programmed telescope, which is pointed at a vacation house owned by Armstrong 30 miles-away, focused at the corpse of Drake Eaton. The house was lent to Leonard's wife, Carrie Palmer, who admits she asked Drake to come over. Jessica agrees to ghostwrite a book for investigating police Sergeant Kettler to get access to all the data, while Leonard is fired to avoid image damage. Conflicting statements from Leonard and Carrie make them the obvious suspects, yet Jessica suddenly concentrates on ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

astronomer | comet | observatory | See All (3) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

24 January 1988 (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?


This is the second time Dean Jones has been cast. He appeared as Marcus Boswell in Murder, She Wrote: It's a Dog's Life (1984). See more »


[first lines]
Fay Hewitt: Leonard.
Leonard Palmer: Oh, Fay.
Fay Hewitt: If you finally find this comet...
Leonard Palmer: When, not if.
Fay Hewitt: ...they'll probably name it for you, posthumously. "Here lies Leonard Palmer, asleep at last."
See more »

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User Reviews

Yet another Jessica Fletcher relative
6 January 2018 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

I have a question to ask, besides Michael Horton who appeared in several Murder She Wrote episodes just how many relatives did Jessica Fletcher have? It seems like every other episode she was helping out a niece or nephew in some kind of problem.

In this one it's Kate McNeil whom Angela Lansbury comes to visit, but only finds husband Dean Jones, an iconoclastic astronomer around. Later on McNeil shows up and we do learn they've been having marital problems.

One night looking for an errant comet Jones's telescope points toward a distant house where we find the body of an old boyfriend of McNeil's, Steven Ford. Turns out that McNeil had been staying there while separated from Jones. Both kind of look good for this homicide to Detective George DiCenzo.

Who is a cop with literary ambitions which Lansbury has to play into to find out about the facts of the case.

I will say this in terms of the rest of the cast you will be glad to see that the actual murderer is the one you're were hoping was it.

One day we'll get the Fletcher family tree sorted out.

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