Spoiler Alert


                               WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING 



                        Hospital Food is Fine if Your Jaw is Wired Shut Anyway



            At the start of Chapter 17, Archer wakes up in the hospital. Although there are some occurrences (primarily a conversation with Sable, who has flown to Reno to see him) the primary importance of his convalescence is not what he does, but that he is sidelined for nearly two weeks so that other aspects of the plot can develop.  If he had immediately gone to the Galton residence after his Reno trip, what happened would have been impossible.  Macdonald need to buy some time and if that meant a fairly long hospital stay for Archer, he was willing to pay the price.

This pause in the action, from Archer’s point of view, is very unusual in his work.  One of the distinguishing features of most of his novels, at least the Archer books, is the relentless pace.  Archer does not keep banker’s hours.  When he is on a case it starts early, goes all day and into the evening, and often ends with him following a suspicious car in the wee hours of the morning.  I have always liked this about his work.  The continuous action gives the story a sense of urgency.  If it’s important enough to keep the detective working hour after hour, it’s important enough for me to keep turning the pages.



                                                            A Heads Up



When we get to the last post, my argument will be that this period of inactivity serves a second, less obvious purpose.  This book began, several times, as a regular novel.  I think that this hospitalization is the point where he begins the transition to the themes he wanted to address in the novel, and that the first 16 chapters are something of a framing device to get us to Chapter 19, which is where the central story takes off.   Feel free to laugh your heads off, but if you follow my posts with this thought in mind, you just might agree with me when we reach the end.



                                              So, What Do We Have Here?



Chapters 17 and 18 are transitional and have little bearing on the main thrust of the story.  The first is only two pages.  Chapter 18 relates Archer’s discharge and his fond reunion with the hotel desk clerk who betrayed him to the Reno mob. The clerk is initially reluctant to discuss the matter but Archer persuades him to reconsider. Central to the clerk’s change of mind is the gun Archer puts to his head.

  • Otto Schwartz gave the clerk the orders to send Archer to Reno.
  • Although Tommy Lemberg works for Schwartz, his brother Roy Lembeg, does not. This is consistent with what Roy’s wife Fran told Archer.
  • Roy and Fran Lemberg left together, but they did not go to Reno. After some further persuasion, the clerk sees the wisdom of giving Archer their address in Los Angeles.



                                           Welcome to the City of Angels



Archer flies down to LA and traces the address to a down-at-the-heels motor court near the airport.  He finds Fran Lemberg alone.

  • She says that Roy has been gone for two weeks—he left soon after he dropped her off.
  • Archer tricks her into admitting that Roy and Tommy have fled to Canada. They crossed over the border at Detroit.
  • She says that Tommy and Pete Culligan were friends, and that when Tommy was thinking about jumping parole a few months ago, Culligan told him about a hideout he had used in Canada.
  • She has no direct way of reaching her husband, but Archer urges her, the next time she hears from him, to tell him to turn himself in before he gets in even more trouble.
  • Archer leaves her with some money, partly as an inducement for her cooperation, and phones the sheriff in Santa Teresa about Culligan’s connection to Schwartz. As Archer observes, “I didn’t want Schwartz all to myself.”

Chapter 19 re-integrates Archer into the main plot line.  He checks his mail at his LA office and finds a generous check from Sable and a hand-written note from “John Galton” thanking him for helping re-unite him with his family.

Archer checks his answering service and finds that Dr. Howell has been trying to reach him for days.  When he calls Howell, the doctor says he urgently wants to meet with him.  Archer agrees to fly up for lunch.

Archer is met at the airport by Sheila Howell, the doctor’s 18-year-old daughter.

She tells him she and John Galton have fallen in love.






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