Chapter 16 starts off with Archie and Orrie having an argument over Orrie wanting to charge Wolfe for him to take a female CAN researcher to Atlantic City. Archie wants to know if Orrie wants leave a message for his wife, Jill. After some more discussion they come to a lump sum for the weekend, for which, Archie says, bought the client nothing.
Fred is drawing a blank.
Saul is getting information but nothing particularly useful.
Helen Lugos is 10 minutes early so gets to spend them with a mere agent again. 😉
Wolfe comes in and once seated with orchids arranged, turns to her and tells her that he thinks that she lied and that he tells her that to establish the temper of the conversation.
He again asks her if she has any idea about who planted the bomb and she tells him that she doesn’t know.
He also wants to know more about her relationship with Meer.
She says that there is none but that they work at the same place. Upon prodding she admits that he would like it to be more.
Wolfe then asks her if she reads books.
I said I wasn’t going to quote any more but this is too good to pass up…
She did what everybody does when asked an unexpected and irrelevant question. Her eyes widened and her lips parted. For two seconds exactly the same as if he had asked her if she ate cats. Then she said, “Why – yes. I read books.”
I just love that line!
Wolfe talks to her a bit more and then asks one more question, he says more for what the question will tell her than for what he will get out of her answer.
He asks what she and Meer talked about in her office shortly before lunch the day before the bombing.
She leaves without another word.
Archie comes back to the office after watching to make sure she shut the door and Wolfe has rung for beer.
“Tell me once more,” I said, “that I understand women better than you do. It gives me confidence. But don’t ask me to prove it. I said two weeks ago that she didn’t open the bag and shake it. I also said she didn’t plant the bomb, but now I don’t know. Did Copes strikingly suggest that she did?”
Wolfe growls and laments that weekend with no information from Fred or Saul and then picks up the top item from the stack of morning mail. The $65,000 check…
Again, there is a lot more of interest in this chapter. Good reading and more background information too.
Comments, corrections, criticism requested.