THE ZEBRA-STRIPED HEARSE Part Twelve
ARCHER EXPLAINS IT ALL TO ISOBEL BLACKWELL
Archer remains at the scene to explain the suicide to the local police. A search of Harriet’s car reveals nothing new, and her body can’t be found on the beach.
Archer sits in the Blackwell house and delivers the news.
- Isobel reveals that Blackwell was afraid that Dolly would tell her first, he confessed his affair to Harriet. The victim’s name, Dolly, is revealed to be horribly ironic. Mark was too damaged by his upbringing to relate to adult women and could only relate to female children, playing with them like a child would play with dolls.
- Harriet took the news of the affair badly, although it was never discussed. Isobel intuited that Harriet was upset that the object of her father’s attention was now Dolly and not herself.
- Isobel makes the connection that only a few months after Dolly died, Isobel attached herself to Campion, Dolly’s widower. Isobel wonders aloud if Harriet was aware of the connection.
- Archer theorizes that Campion and Harriet each knew what they were doing, in getting together after Dolly’s death, but that neither told the other.
- Archer goes on to explain that Campion wouldn’t have come back from Mexico, with an indictment for Dolly’s murder hanging over him, unless he was confident he could clear himself. Archer says that Campion said as much when Blackwell turned the shotgun on him, but that Archer failed to understand it. (It’s not exactly clear what Archer means. When Archer is in Campion’s presence, Campion’s statements to Blackwell are nothing but taunts. Blackwell tells Archer that Campion had made “a filthy accusation” that Blackwell refuses to repeat—presumably the accusation that led Blackwell to break out the shotgun. With the benefit of hindsight we can assume that it was about Blackwell and Dolly.)
- Archer explains that Campion must have told Harriet about her father and Dolly at the Lake Tahoe lodge; she became hysterical, Campion was scratched on the face and she was knocked into the water, but not killed.
- She was well enough to recover, get her car and drive to the Malibu beach house, the only place she felt safe.
- Harriet telephoned her father. She must have asked him whether he killed Dolly. He said he would drive down and talk about it.
- Blackwell left a note for Isobel that he was going to Lake Tahoe to throw her off his plan.
- Archer explains that he was so horrified after seeing his daughter’s blood that he was still in a state of paralysis when Archer arrived the next day.
- Isobel is impressed with his reconstruction and appreciates that Archer has done all he could to shield her from any involvement. She authorizes him to see Campion in jail and get him to confess.
It’s an impressive wrapping up of a challenging set of facts and Archer deserves to be commended,
Unfortunately, Archer is wrong about nearly everything.