The Worst Motel Stay Ever




The lights are on in the office of Kerrigan’s motel, giving Archer a clear view of the owners’ brains.  Kerrigan had been shot once, between the eyes, with a gun that Archer guesses might be a .38.  Archer finds no wallet and no trace of the package Boozey had handed him earlier.

As Archer looks through the motel’s financial records he hears an engine start from the direction of the carports. He runs outside in time to see Jo Summers driving by in a sports car. Archer raises his gun to fire but he is struck from behind and knocked down. After he subdues his assailant he discovers that the man is Sal Braga, a cousin of the murdered truck driver and a deputy sheriff.

Jo has stolen an MG belonging to one of the other motel guests.  Without any idea of where she might have gone, Archer decides not to give chase.  He has a better idea.


                                          Interview With the New Widow

             Archer goes to the Kerrigan residence, but instead of hiding in the shrubbery this time, he knocks on the door.  He tells Katie the news about her husband and gets some new information.

  • Although the affair between Anne Meyer and her husband was long over, Anne had borrowed the keys to their mountain cabin at Lake Perdida for the past weekend.
  • When she didn’t return the keys Monday Don drove up there to see if she was all right, but he said she wasn’t there. When Don returned, he brought back the only set of keys. Anne had left them there.
  • The cabin is in the Sierras, a two-hour drive away. Don was gone all day and didn’t return till late Monday evening.
  • Kate confirms what she’d told the sheriff–that Kerrigan was at the motel at the time of the hijacking.
  • Katie Kerrigan gives Archer the keys and detailed directions to the cabin, but before they can talk further, Sheriff Church and his enraged deputy, Braga, drive up. Archer wisely goes out the back.


                                         Welcome to Restful Lake Placida

The cabin yields its clues:

  • Two used glasses, one of them with lipstick marks.
  • Several bobby pins on the floor, including one in the inevitable bearskin rug in front of the fireplace.
  • A few cigarette butts, some with lipstick.
  • Only one of the bedrooms has been used and that bed has not been made. You will be shocked, dear reader, shocked, that there is evidence of sexual activity.
  • There are no clothes, but the women’s toiletries in the bathroom appear to match the ones missing from Anne’s apartment in Las Cruces.
  • The kitchen table was set for two; the meal was eaten but the dishes have not been cleared. And there is an empty wine bottle for good measure.
  • The remains of a spaghetti dinner in the pot on the stove is covered with flies.


The Boy Scout Jamboree theory is rapidly losing any empirical support.

The summer season is over and the cabins are closed for the winter, but Archer finds an elderly woman who runs the filling station.  She has plenty of opinions and even some information.

  • Anne Meyer was at the cabin Monday.
  • Many times in the past Anne had used the cabin with Kerrigan, but Kerrigan has a new girl.
  • Anne came up Saturday afternoon; she was alone but it was clear she was expecting someone.
  • The couple doesn’t know when Kerrigan arrived, but they saw Kerrigan with the woman on Monday afternoon. Kerrigan was driving the woman’s car.
  • When they last saw Kerrigan and the woman they were headed in the direction of the only local entertainment spot, The Inn, which is owned by an old man named MacGowan.
  • MacGowan’s granddaughter is named Jo, now goes by Jo Summer, and is Kerrigan’s girlfriend.
  • Late Saturday night a man knocked and asked permission to use the phone. When they told him there was no phone he became angry.  The man appears to have been the hijacked driver, Tony Aquista.


                                                  Puzzling Complications

Archer drives over to The Inn and interviews MacGowan, the owner.

  • MacGowan confirms the report of the gas station attendant that Kerrigan and a woman—possibly, but not certainly, Anne Meyer—drove by and went to a remote corner of his property on Monday.
  • MacGowan said that when he confronted them, the woman was digging a hole and Kerrigan was watching.
  • The woman wasn’t being forced. When MacGowan told the two to leave, she fell on the rocks, bruising her hands, and quickly left with Kerrigan.
  • When Archer checks the spot he finds a woman’s broken shoe heel.
  • The hole was unfinished; possibly it was intended as a grave.
  • MacGowan’s granddaughter Jo is married to Bozey; the couple stayed with him briefly. The old man has no illusions about Bozey; when MacGowan found a gun and a large amount of money wrapped in newspapers, he ran Bozey off. Although Jo stayed with MacGowan for a while, eventually she drifted down to Las Cruces and met Kerrigan—and evidently reconciled with Bozey.


                                                     An Odd Interlude

In Chapter 18, Archer has concluded his business in Lake Placida and is on his way back to Las Cruces when Katie Kerrigan, who drove up and is waiting by the roadside, flags him down.  He tells her what he has learned (which the reader already knows) and she repeats that she doesn’t know exactly what her late husband did Monday. She tells him that the sheriff is upset with him and that Deputy Braga is angry enough to want to kill him—not news, either. She finally admits she drove up to see Archer again.  After several pages of dialogue they kiss and her hat falls off. Then for no reason she seems to change her mind about the whole thing and they drive separately back to town. Hot stuff.





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