The Police Lend a Hand—Reluctantly


             Archer stops by the sheriff’s substation; the deputy handling the Galton case is a tough sell, but by using patience instead of the smart aleck patter of his younger days, Archer gets the police to check with state police headquarters in Sacramento. Archer is able to piece some things together. (I have rearranged the order of presentation slightly in the interests of trying to keep this moving.)

  • The “Shoulders” Mrs. Culligan mentioned is Shoulders Nelson, a member of Red Horse mob. He is implicated in several gang killings and had a repuation for violence; the Culligans were right to fear him.
  • Shoulders was sentenced to a long term in San Quentin but escaped in December 1936 and was never recaptured.
  • Shoulders and Culligan were both attracted to the same prostitute at the Red Horse. Shoulders once beat Culligan badly over the girl. Before Shoulders went to prison, he was living with her.



              Desiccated Bones and Lawyers (Place the Modifiers as You Please)


Sable shows up, looking troubled and exhausted.  He briefly explains that he had to put his young wife into a nursing home; she has taken Cuilligan’s death very hard.

Archer fills in Sable on what he has learned from the former Mrs. Culligan. They examine the bones.  The medical evidence is circumstantial.

  • Although Dr. Howell was the family doctor, he didn’t set the break and wasn’t involved in the treatment.
  • The X-ray has been lost. All we have is the notes of the doctor who set the break, indicating a fracture two inches above the right humerous.
  • The bones show a fracture at that spot.


                  Cautious Optimism Edges towards Being Less Cautious


Neither Sable nor Archer are convinced, but they agree there is enough to justify talking to the boy further.  He is nearby, playing one of his regular chess games with Dr. Dineen, the doctor who delivered him and who is already a firm believer in the boy’s strong moral character.  Archer is suspicious that the boy is working so hard to ingratiate himself with a potential witness.

Archer, Sable and the doctor have a private conversation that does little to quiet Archer’s suspicions.

  • Dineen tells them that the boy has obtained a copy of the marriage license of John Brown and Theodora Gavin, dated about two months before his birth.
  • Archer reminds the doctor that the boy tracked him down through the birth certificate, a readily available public record. The doctor is not only unimpressed but is insulted that that boy’s integrity is being questioned.  Either Dr. Dineen has a keen sense of human nature or the boy has played him like a violin.


                 A Lawyer, A Private Eye and a Young Man Walk Into a Room


             It’s time for the family lawyer to interrogate the boy.  And like everything else, it’s not conclusive.

  • The boy obtained the birth certificate in March, when he was at Ann Arbor.
  • He had lived in that town for five years, some of it attending high school and then attending the University of Michigan.
  • There are no records because he used the name “John Lindsay.” He was afraid of being sent back to the Ohio orphanage as a runaway.
  • “Lindsay” was the last name of the teacher who took a great personal interest in him and with whom he lived.
  • Lindsay is now dead.
  • He gives them the name of the orphanage, Crystal Springs, near Cleveland. For all the good that will turn out to be.
  • He claims to remember his mother telling him when she left him at the orphanage that he was born in California, which caused him to write to California for a birth certificate. That gave him not only the locale but the name of the attending physician.
  • He says he knew his date of birth, December 2, because he always got a small birthday present at the orphanage that day. He assumes his mother provided the date.


After some reflection, Sable decides that there is enough evidence that he should at least present the boy to his client and let her decide for herself. Archer has his doubts but doesn’t object.


                                     There’s Just This Little Loose End


No, it’s not who killed the chauffer at the Lido Pier—that’s in the movie version of The Big Sleep. It’s the death of Culligan, and its possible link with Anthony Galton.

While Sable takes the boy to meet Mrs. Galton, Archer goes back to the hotel where he’d bribed the desk clerk to keep an eye on the movements of Mr. and Mrs. Lemberg.  The clerk tells him that they checked out after making a long distance call to a car dealer nicknamed Generous Joe in Reno.  Apparently Roy Lemberg had worked for him before moving to California.

Archer takes a plane to Reno and meets Generous Joe.  Who is not so generous after all.  And his real name is Culotti.  He leads Archer into an ambush where Archer is severely beaten.  The tip from the desk clerk was a trap.

In the course of a round of beatings, Archer sees Tommy Lemberg, the driver of the Jaguar fleeing the Sable residence who stole Archer’s car.  Tommy takes Archer to meet Otto Schwartz.

When Archer asks why Schwartz had Culligan killed, Tommy breaks in to insist that he didn’t kill him, that Culligan was alive when Tommy left.

For reasons that have more to do with the fact that Archer is the protagonist in a series rather than logic, Schwartz contents himself with having Archer beaten further instead of dumping him into Lake Tahoe.


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