If That’s What You Think, You Ought to See a Shrink
When Archer gets to work, nothing stops him. After leaving Rina behind at the LA airport he drives to the sanitarium of Dr. Frey, where Dr. Frey lives in a guesthouse.
Of course, Frey is highly reluctant to discuss Isobel Graff, but he is no match for Archer. In a few pages Archer skillfully breaks him down:
- Isobel has indeed been a long-term patient, and she has been missing since this morning.
- Frey confirms that Clarence Bassett visits Isobel regularly
- Clarence is not insane or murderous but the combination of his weakness and Isobel’s illness could produce a couple that was capable of murder.
- Frey speculates that Isobel’s schizophrenia came from being pushed too hard too young by her father Peter after her mother’s death.
- Bassett visited her just before her escape last March 21 when Gabrielle was killed.
A Return to the Channel Club
But First, a Great Quote:
“Time was running through me, harsh on my nerve-ends, hot in my arteries, implacable as breath in my mouth. I had the sleepless feeling you sometimes get in the final hours of a bad case, that you can see around corners, if you want to, and down into the darkness in human beings.”
Archer breaks into Simon Graff’s cabana. He is not surprised to find Isobel’s closet empty and unused.
Archer pulls off a nice piece of detective work. The closet door has louvers that allow a view of the beach from a certain height. Since Isobel is shorter, Archer drags over a bench and stands on his knees. He is rewarded with the clear view of the bedroom—and toothmarks she left in the louver when she was watching her husband and Gabrielle.
Archer is interrupted by Tony, the security guard, who is only mildly upset about the burglary and the damage Archer caused to the door; but he is angry about what happened to his daughter and his nephew. When Archer tells Tony he is looking for Isobel Graff, Tony says she is down on the beach.
On The Beach We Gather Together and Avoid Speech (Mostly)
Isobel is huddled on the sand, muttering nonsense, but a few facts emerge:
- She confirms she was in love with Bassett years ago and that her father forced her to marry Graff.
- She admits to shooting Gabrielle in the Graff cabana; she watched while Gabrielle crawled away across the pool are and out into the sand.
- Isobel shot her with Graff’s target pistol. Graff was present but he ran away, unharmed.
At this point Graff shows up. Archer disarms him and realizes that his gun is the target pistol that killed Gabrielle. Isobel confirms this. When Archer points out that ballistic evidence will prove it is the same gun, Graff says that it’s never left his possession. Archer says that Stern had the gun last night and somebody killed him for it.
Shaken, Graff offers Archer a hundred thousand dollars for the return of the pistol, right now. When Archer expresses surprise that Graff could put his hands on so much money right away Graff says that Clarence Bassett has it— Graff had just paid him that much that same evening to get the pistol back from him.
It All Comes Back to Bassett’s Office
Archer, followed by Graff and Isobel, knocks on Bassett’s door.
- Graff demands his money back.
- With the aid of a little physical pressure from Archer, Bassett opens the office safe. The money is there, in brown bank bundles, and Graff offers it to Archer.
- Archer refuses, of course; accepting it would be committing several crimes. And if he gave Graff the gun, he would be an accessory after the fact in Gabrielle’s murder.
- Isobel admits going to the Campbell mansion to see Hester. She said that Bassett told her that Hester was her husband’s new girlfriend. She didn’t want to kill Hester—she just wanted proof that they were together so she could get a divorce. But when she arrived Hester was already dead.
- Archer realizes that the point of Bassett hiring him was to make sure that George Wall was eventually led to Hester’s body, after she was dead, making Wall the fall guy for Hester’s murder.
- When George turned out to be too unpredictable for Archer to handle, Bassett went with Plan B, which was to switch Rina for Hester and make it appear that the murder occurred in Las Vegas.
- Archer reasons out that after Hester stole the gun from Bassett, she realized she wasn’t up to the task of blackmailing Graff so she brought Lance in on the deal.
- Archer realizes that it was Bassett who killed Stern to get the gun back and dumped the body in the ocean; only Stern didn’t have it.
- It all starts coming out—Bassett not only killed Stern and Lance, but he was also the one who killed Hester with the poker.
- In a move lifted from the “murder by remote control” of The Ivory Grin, Archer explains that Bassett intended for the murder of Simon Graff to be done by Isobel. Bassett told her that her husband and Gabrielle would be at the cabana. If Simon was dead (and Isobel was given only a light sentence since she had caught her husband in the act) Bassett and Isobel would be free to marry at last.
- As the military maxim states, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. Isobel wasn’t much of a shot. Simon fled, unhurt, and Isobel only managed to inflict a flesh wound on Gabrielle. Now things are worse than ever.
- Bassett cleans up the mess by taking the gun, fatally shooting Gabrielle on the beach, and hosing down the blood trail from the cabana.
- Bassett tried to convince Isobel that she was the one who had murdered Gabrielle and used that lie to attempt to blackmail Graff. (Although why Graff would care is another matter.)
- Bassett wants a drink—and Lord knows he needs one—but while Archer is distracted fetching the drink, the security guard, Tony Torres, shows up. He has been standing near enough to learn that Bassett killed his daughter. Tony shoots him with his .45, killing Basset instantly.
- Refusing increasingly desperate enticements from Graff, Archer takes the target pistol and places it in Bassett’s dead hand, to support Tony’s claim of self-defense.