Wrapping it Up



   The reader will no doubt have a sense of relief that the trip from Pacific Point to San Diego was not at gunpoint. Helen has been through enough for one week. More practically, if Amy could simply talk Helen into giving her a ride to see her bereaved family, since Amy doesn’t have a car of her own, there would be no need to use force.  All Amy needed to do was to play on whatever sense of guilt Helen felt about the death of Fred. With Helen’s feelings about the death of her own husband in flux, the right words at the right time were, literally, a free ride for Amy to where the money was waiting in San Diego at her father’s store.

Amy is confronted with the money, which proves she killed Lemp, and she tells her story.

  • When Kerry got out in January he found her and said she owed him. Lemp was working for the Johnsons, spying on Helen, and had come up with the plan to kidnap Jamie. Kerry does not believe that it was Fred who turned them in.
  • In February, when Kerry and Lemp were coming up to Pacific Point for a session to plan the kidnapping, she got Fred drunk, left him home alone passed out, and took the Johnson car that he usually drove. She ran over Kerry. Amy didn’t care about foiling the kidnapping plot—she always thought it was crazy—but she was afraid of Fred’s jealousy if he knew Kerry had come back. Amy was the subject of numerous beatings by her father when she was younger and was vulnerable to such thoughts.
  • Lemp obligingly took the identifying details off Kerry’s body and fled in Kerry’s car, giving the police a mystery, giving Amy protection, and providing himself with a new car and Kerry’s girlfriend, Molly.
  • Amy framed Fred for the “accident” by putting him behind the wheel and letting him drive aimlessly until his driving attracted the attention of the police. (It’s no wonder that Fred doesn’t remember the accident—he was home sleeping.)
  • Now that Lemp knows about Amy’s role in Snow’s death and the coverup, she is under his thumb. Lemp insists they move forward with the kidnapping even without Snow.
  • The crucial discrepancy of the early part of the book is explained—Amy told Fred that Mrs. Johnson told her to have Fred take the child to the desert house. This is how Fred can say he got his instructions from Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Johnson can honestly deny it.
  • Helen forgives Amy for bringing Fred into their lives and for the love he gave to Jamie. She cannot forgive Helen for the rest.
  • Amy admits that she killed Lemp with an ice pick from her father’s store so that she could eliminate any hold he had on her. Lemp was the only witness to her running over Snow. After Lemp was dead she decided to take the money.
  • It is clear from the threats that her father makes during her confession that she was physically and possibly sexually brutalized by her father on multiple occasions when she was younger.

Her confession is over at the bottom of page 211 in the Vintage Crime trade paperback edition.  Unfortunately, there is a page 212.


                                              After the Wrapping-up

The last page is a portion of the drive back from San Diego back to Pacific Point with Cross and Helen. The dialogue is a series of veiled apologies for each thinking badly of the other. Then Macdonald drops his bomb:

“Her body lay away from me in the seat like a mysterious county I had dreamed of all my life.”

From there the conversation shifts to how she is in love with him, and that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. They agree that they will have to wait a little before marriage; Cross assures her he can wait and she puts her hand on his shoulder.


                                     A Mental Exercise

You have now read all 212 pages, or at least been exposed to their content.  If you had two copies of this book, one with the 212th page and one without, which would you recommend to a friend?



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