An Odd Conversation
After the strange fumblings of Chapter 18, it’s good to get back to the action in Chapter 19. Well, not so much; the fumblings in this chapter are logical rather than physical. The chapter opens with Archer talking to Meyer. For someone who has a poor relationship with the sheriff and who spends his time either in the basement of his home or in a cubicle in the corner of his warehouse, he is surprisingly well informed. (No, he is not part of the hijacking—he just happens to know things that he has no reason to know.)
- The car that Bozey left at the airplane hangar when he drove off with the truck was purchased a few weeks before at a used car lot in Los Angeles.
- The car was paid for in cash; the bills traced back to a bank robbery in Portland last August in which $20,000 was taken.
- Hilda Church has packed up and moved out on her husband, the sheriff. Apparently their marriage has been unhappy for years.
- Early on in their marriage Hilda attempted suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills.
Meyer leads Archer to his home, where Hilda is staying. Archer shows her the broken heel and Hilda identifies it as a pair that Anne owned. She also says that Anne wore bobby pins similar to the ones Archer retrieved from the cabin.
Following these disclosures, the conversation between Meyer and his daughter degenerates into yet another argument, the upshot of which is that Meyer fires Archer and refuses to even pay the hundred-dollar retainer.
Without a Client and Fist Fighting with the Sheriff
While Archer is talking to Hilda, Sheriff Church shows up and assumes Archer is interested in her romantically. The two of them brawl, with Archer coming out on top.
Hilda agrees to return home with her husband. The sheriff offers to let bygones be bygones with Archer, but Archer refuses and says that he is going to remain in the county, even without a client, till the case is resolved. It’s an odd decision. As Archer himself notes, “I couldn’t think of a single solid reason for staying. So I drove across town to the courthouse, accompanied by my Messianic complex.” Macdonald can’t fix this problem with the plot, but at least he acknowledges that it’s there.
Interview with the District Attorney
Archer speaks at length with the D.A. It’s a difficult conversation because Archer has suspicions about Church’s honesty that he is reluctant to share. Whatever Church is mixed up in, the D.A. may be, too. But Archer learns a good deal.
- Bozey is the strong suspect for the bank robbery in Portland. For a young man he has accumulated quite a record, including a good deal of time in prison.
- The D.A. confirms that the serial numbers on the bills from the robbery are being tracked and that the car purchase in Los Angeles was Brozey’s only attempt to spend any of the loot.
- Kerrigan was keeping two sets of books, with the connivance of Anne Meyer, his bookkeeper. He was apparently spending his money on gambling rather than paying his taxes and was due for an audit from the IRS.
- Kerrigan was paying Meyer a thousand dollars a month, probably as hush money for participating in the tax fraud.
- The D. A. thinks that Kerrigan knew that the IRS was closing in and decided to raise as much money as he could, kill Anne Meyer, and disappear.
- The D.A. raises the idea that Jo Summer was simply working for Brozey all along and that she was the bait to get Kerrigan and Brozey together. Brozey was prepared to pay Kerrigan the twenty thousand dollars as part of the price of the stolen liquor—Brozey and Jo knew the money couldn’t be spent, but Kerrigan didn’t know that.
- Kerrigan and Aquista were shot with the same .38 Police Positive revolver—which means that Brozey couldn’t have shot Kerrigan at the motel because Brozey was busy driving the stolen truck.
- Archer informs the D.A. about Meyer lending a .38 revolver to Anne Meyer and suggests that it may have been the murder weapon.
Another Odd Conversation with the Widow
Kate Kerrigan makes another appearance. She is sitting in Archer’s car when he leaves the courthouse. She has come to tell him that MacGowan has called from Lake Placida and is on his way to her house to meet with Archer. The entire chapter is dialogue between the two while they wait. Specifically, she flirts with Archer by asking questions that seem both provocative and passive aggressive at the same time. Archer responds in kind, as is his wont. The conversation leads nowhere. We are put out of our misery by the arrival of MacGowan. The last mention of Kate Kerrigan is that, after Archer and MacGowan speak, Archer notes that he says good-bye to her. After that she is forgotten.