Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"No Ordinary Life"

Born and raised on the east coast, Suzanne Redfearn moved to California when she was fifteen. She currently lives in Laguna Beach with her husband, their two kids, a Cockapoo named Cooper, and a cat named Motley. They own a restaurant in town called Lumberyard. Prior to becoming an author, Redfearn was an architect specializing in residential and commercial design. When not writing, she enjoys doing anything and everything with her family—skiing, golf, tennis, surfing, playing board games, and watching reality TV. Redfearn is an avid baseball fan. Her team is the Angels. She can also be found in the bleachers watching her kids’ sports or prowling the streets with her husband checking out the culinary scene of Orange County.

Redfearn applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, No Ordinary Life, and reported the following:
Page 69 from No Ordinary Life is very representative of the novel. In this scene Faye and her four-year-old daughter have just finished auditioning for a television show with another boy. Molly did very well, the boy did not. The boy and his mom are walking out of the room when the page starts:
“Behind the garden shed, baby,” she says before the door closes, her voice shrill. “You forgot the word ‘garden.’”

He forgot more than that, but perhaps her memory is as bad as her son’s.

When the door closes, the man in the center leans back in his chair and peers at Molly over steepled fingers. “Do you sing?” he asks.

The man is not particularly handsome, his nose slightly large for his face, his chin slightly small, but he has a magnetism that causes the room to swirl around him. The others are glued to his words, and I find myself drawn to him as well. Even the heavy man beside him pays attention, looking up from his boredom as if suddenly Molly is interesting.

“Evewryone sings,” Molly answers.

“Will you sing something for us?” the woman says. “Anything you like.”

Molly tilts her head, and her mouth skews to the side, then she starts tapping her foot, and I know what’s coming, and it’s all I can do to control my snicker.

“Hey…ey…ey. Uh. Yeah, hey…ey…”

The three at the table blink rapidly, unsure what Molly’s singing, and even the heavy man smiles when Molly breaks into the chorus for “Play That Funky Music.”

When she finishes the chorus, the man in the center holds up his hand to stop her, a smile still on his face.

My heart bursts with joy and panic in equal measure. The competitive spirit in me applauds because I know Molly nailed it, while the annoying buzz from this morning returns, blaring at full volume because I’m uncertain what it is we’ve won.

“Thank you, Molly,” the woman says. “We’ll be in touch.”

“You’wre wewlcome,” Molly says with a small bow like Bo taught her to do after a performance.

I take her by the hand to lead her from the room.

“One more question,” the man in the center says, stopping us. He is looking at Molly’s sheet. “It says here you’re 53 inches, but that can’t be right. How tall are you?”

I swallow, frozen by the question. I have no idea how tall Molly is. I’m five-two, that’s sixty-two inches. Molly’s at least two feet shorter. Sixty-two minus twenty-four…I try to do the math in my head, but my brain won’t function. A mother should know this. What mother doesn’t know how tall her child is?

Molly saves me. She puts her hand on top of her head and drags it out to the air in front of her. “This tawll,” she says, then she turns and pulls me out the door.
Visit Suzanne Redfearn's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Suzanne Redfearn and Cooper.

My Book, The Movie: Hush Little Baby.

The Page 69 Test: Hush Little Baby.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"The Silence of Stones"

Jeri Westerson is the author of the Crispin Guest Medieval Noir series.

She applied the Page 69 Test to The Silence of Stones, the eighth book in the series, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Silence of Stones:
He rubbed his hands for another moment and turned. His strides were long down the nave, but footsteps followed him, and then someone ran to head him off at the door. A burly bear of a man furrowed his brow at him, body blocking his exit.

‘We weren’t done talking, Master Guest,’ said Findlaich from behind him.

‘Yes we were. You don’t have the Stone so there is nothing else to say.’

‘But you are a finder of lost things, are you not? They call you the Tracker.’

Crispin halted but did not turn around. He laughed instead, a harsh bark of a sound. ‘Don’t tell me you intended to hire me, too?’ He did turn then, eyes narrowing. ‘You whoreson. Don’t you know why I am already looking for it? The king has my apprentice as hostage. If I don’t find it and return it to the king, he will kill the boy! What the hell do I care about you?’

‘Such haste and impertinence,’ said Findlaich, shaking his head. ‘I care not for what schemes the king’s got brewing. I only know my own task. And that was to secure the Stone. But I no have it. And I shall be in peril if I do not do as my patron says. Yet, I might have an idea who does have that troublesome Stone.’

‘And why should I trust you?’

‘Well now…’ He rubbed his shaggy chin again. ‘There are things that I know that perhaps you do not…’ Sagging, he shrugged. ‘I wish no harm to your lad, Master Guest, but as you well know, men like us are at the mercy of our betters.’

Betters? Who would lead such an expedition for the Stone, he wondered. Who could? A Scottish lord, no doubt. But who? This Mormaer? The Mormaer, he corrected. The tribal nuances of northerners was a puzzle to him.

And anyway, how would the knowing of it help his situation? Well, all the pieces were necessary. Only a complete tapestry yielded an understandable picture.

He faced Findlaich, whom, he realized, had been civil to him. ‘You will forgive me if I leave you now? For I have another appointment which might provide answers that we all seek. Pardon me if I do not invite you along.’

‘To the Boar’s Tusk?’
That pretty much sets up the book, doesn't it? We have Crispin Guest, our protagonist who is tasked with searching for the stolen Stone of Destiny, taken from the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey. Crispin's immediate concern is his apprentice Jack Tucker who was taken hostage by the king to insure Crispin's expediency. And we have his Scottish rivals. So all is in place very neatly on page 69!
Learn more about the author and her work at Jeri Westerson's website and her "Getting Medieval" blog.

The Page 69 Test: Veil of Lies.

The Page 69 Test: Serpent in the Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Demon's Parchment.

My Book, The Movie: The Demon's Parchment.

The Page 69 Test: Troubled Bones.

The Page 69 Test: Blood Lance.

The Page 69 Test: Shadow of the Alchemist.

The Page 69 Test: Cup of Blood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 8, 2016

"Graveyard"

New York Times bestselling author William C. Dietz has published more than fifty novels some of which have been translated into German, French, Russian, Korean and Japanese. Dietz also wrote the script for the Legion of the Damned game (i-Phone, i-Touch, & i-Pad) based on his book of the same name--and co-wrote SONY's Resistance: Burning Skies game for the PS Vita.

He grew up in the Seattle area, spent time with the Navy and Marine Corps as a medic, graduated from the University of Washington, lived in Africa for half a year, and has traveled to six continents. He has been employed as a surgical technician, college instructor, news writer, television producer and Director of Public Relations and Marketing for an international telephone company.

Dietz is a member of the Writer’s Guild and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. He and his wife live near Gig Harbor in Washington State where they enjoy traveling, kayaking, and reading books.

Dietz applied the Page 69 Test to Graveyard, and reported the following:
From page 69:
There were lots of messages and Lee skipped through them until she found the one from Kane. His voice was strange, as if he was trying to sound casual, but under considerable pressure. "Hi, hon... It's me. Sorry to bother you, but I'm in jail. No, this isn't a joke. I was arrested for murder about an hour after you left for work. They're holding me at the MDC and I need some help. Okay, I guess that's all. Love you." And that was followed by a click.

Lee could hardly believe her ears and listened to the message again before calling the MDC. She knew at least a dozen people there--and it didn't take long to hook up with a clerk who could confirm that yes, they did have a prisoner named Lawrence Kane, and yes, he was being held on a murder charge.

Lee's hand shook as she dialed Marvin Codicil's number. Codicil was her attorney and had been able to resolve a number of legal problems in the past. And, since he knew Kane, Codicil seemed like the right person to turn to. He answered on the second ring. "Hello, Cassandra... I wondered when you’d call."

"I was working," Lee replied. "It sounds like you already know about Lawrence."

"Yes," Codicil said. "He called me as soon as he could."

"So what the hell is going on?"

"I'm due in court five minutes from now," Codicil said, "so I can't go into a lot of detail. Suffice it to say that Lawrence had left his condo, and was on his way to St. John's, when he saw two men accost a young woman on the street. He stopped, got out of his car, and ordered them to stop. They turned and one of the men fired a shot at Lawrence. He returned fire using the .45 that you gave him. The man with the gun fell dead.

"And even though cops were almost impossible to find in all of the chaos a patrol car happened along seconds later. The surviving suspect took the dead man's pistol and ran. The police officers ordered Lawrence to surrender his weapon and he did so. Then, when they asked him to explain the shooting, he realized that the young woman had disappeared. And when Lawrence asked the police if they'd seen her they said ‘no.’ End of story."
In this case the Page 69 Test works fairly well, although it shines a light on only one part of Cassandra Lee’s life. Because while Lee’s boyfriend is in jail, she’s also working to uncover corruption in the Mayor’s office, tracking the serial killer responsible for killing a number of cops including her father, and working a case that involves illegal face transplants. And that’s what makes the novel exciting… There’s a lot going on all at once.
Visit William C. Dietz's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Andromeda's Fall.

My Book, The Movie: Andromeda's Fall.

The Page 69 Test: Andromeda's Choice.

The Page 69 Test: Deadeye.

My Book, The Movie: Deadeye.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Shade Me"

Jennifer Brown's books include the YA novels Hate List, Bitter End, Perfect Escape, Thousand Words, and Torn Away, and the middle grade novels Life on Mars and How Lunchbox Jones Saved Me From Robots, Traitors, and Missy the Cruel.

Brown applied the Page 69 Test to Shade Me, her latest YA novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Bill Hollis turned to me, his icy blue eyes turning my insides cold. “And you are?”

But before I could open my mouth, Dru answered for me. “A friend of Peyton’s.” I gave him a curious look. Why the lie? But I guessed maybe I knew why. Bill Hollis was not in a mood for games—and who could blame him?—and he might consider it a game for someone who wasn’t exactly a friend to be there. Fern green feathered in around us, giving me an itchy feeling I always got in awkward situations.

“Were you the one who found her? Do you know who did this?” Bill Hollis asked, his gaze penetrating me. And then, as if flipping a switch, his eyes softened and his mouth curved into a pleasant tilt—the man from the magazines. “Should we be thanking you?” He held out his hand. “There will be a reward, of course.”

I stared at it, unsure what to do, my head shaking of its own accord. Bill Hollis was probably not the kind of guy whose handshakes went unreciprocated, but something about him oozed minty distrust that made my heart pound, even more so than with Dru. I was too scared of him to touch him.
Nikki Kill is not your typical sleuth. Or your typical Hollywood teen. Or your typical anything, really. She is a semi-surly ripped-jeans-and-scuffed-Chucks-clad girl struggling with her grades, her mom’s death, and her synesthesia. Nikki sees colors in words, letters, numbers, and even emotions, which makes her world a confusing, and frustrating, place.

But Nikki is forced into solving a dangerous mystery when Peyton Hollis, a very rich, very popular girl from her school, is attacked, and Nikki’s is the only number stored in Peyton’s phone. Nikki has never so much as spoken to Peyton in her life, and doesn’t want to solve the mystery of who left Peyton for dead, but she is quickly sucked in by curiosity, a sense of obligation, and a dismaying attraction to Peyton’s brother, Dru.

On page 69, Nikki is visiting Peyton at the hospital, wrestling with the irresistible pull of Dru, when Peyton’s wealthy and powerful movie producer father, Bill Hollis, arrives. This is Nikki’s first (but definitely not last!) run-in with the frightening elder Hollis, and she finds herself instantly battling the heebie-jeebies. She feels defensive and suspicious and can’t help wondering why Dru is lying about who she is. Is he protecting her? Is he protecting Peyton? Is he protecting the family? Or is he simply protecting himself?

While not exactly a pivotal scene in Shade Me, this scene is still important, as it marks the deepening of Nikki’s dedication to the case. What she sees in Bill Hollis makes her wonder what has really gone on in Peyton’s life. She begins to believe that maybe Peyton did need help. And she is determined to find out…why did Peyton need help from her?
Learn more about the book and author at Jennifer Brown's website.

Read: Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Brown & Ursula and Aragorn.

My Book, The Movie: Life on Mars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 5, 2016

"A Prisoner in Malta"

Phillip DePoy is the director of the theatre program at Clayton State University and author of several novels, including The Drifter's Wheel, A Corpse's Nightmare, and December's Thorn.

He applied the Page 69 Test to A Prisoner in Malta, the first book in a new mystery series featuring Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare's contemporary and Queen Elizabeth's man behind the throne, and reported the following:
Page 69 of A Prisoner in Malta contains a particularly telling bit of action tied to philosophy:
The man was taken by surprise, but training or instinct did not fail him. He drew his sword.

“Stop,” the man warned, menacingly.

“Ah, good,” Marlowe said to the man, “military sword against rapier and dagger. The former is a clumsy man’s failing; the latter is a clever man’s grace. As luck would have it, I am quite graceful. You’re about to die.”

That was a lesson from Lopez: taunt an opponent with the idea that he’s already lost, even before the fighting has begun.

The guard hesitated. The verbal gambit had worked. Marlowe thrust his rapier directly into the man’s midsection. Blood spotted his tunic.
From this exchange we quickly understand several things about the young Christopher Marlowe. He’s calm, confident, and verbal in the face of a dangerous situation, but he’s also still a student, relying on lessons he’s been taught (in this case by his sometime mentor, Dr. Lopez, the Queen’s physician). This section arises from one of my favorite real quotes from the historical Marlowe: “You must be proud, bold, pleasant, resolute, and now and then stab, when occasion serves.” The entire book’s not comprised of swordfights, of course, but there is a lot of action. I think what might be missing from page 69 is a fuller explication of Marlowe’s more poetic virtues, but all in all the page isn’t a bad partial introduction to the rest of the book.
Learn more about the book and author at Phillip DePoy's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Drifter's Wheel.

The Page 69 Test: A Corpse's Nightmare.

The Page 69 Test: December's Thorn.

My Book, The Movie: December's Thorn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 4, 2016

"Skinner Luce"

Patricia Ward was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, moving to the United States when she was eighteen. Her books include The Bullet Collection, an award-winning novel about two sisters growing up in wartime Beirut.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Skinner Luce, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Aunt Eva says you can’t stay over,” he remarks at last.

“I’ve got work first thing tomorrow. It’s a company fighting a takeover, they need extra hands. It pays double, I can’t say no.”

The lies pour from her like water. He gives her another sideways look but doesn’t call her out. He thinks she moonlights as an escort, a theory he advanced when he was wasted one night, then laid into her about his right to worry, her being his younger cousin and all. You don’t have to do it, he blathered. You’re better than that! She had to dig pretty deep not to contradict him. It stung, that he pictured her stooping so low, despite the ironic parallels to the truth. But she saw the advantage of letting his theory stand. He’ll never dare suggest it to Eva, who’d have an aneurysm from sheer horror, so he ends up in a circuitous way serving as an ally, stopping Eva when she’s pushing too hard lest Lucy blurt out the dreadful truth.

“Harry O’Neill finally kicked the bucket,” he says.

“Eva told me.”

“Remember when he caught us stealing all that gum?” He chuckles to himself. “What morons we were.”

“Yeah. You puked, you were so scared.”

“At least it hit his shoes.”

Lucy laughs a little, surprised to remember, actually. Memories of her early years are fragmented, disconnected. The shrinks way back said it was due to trauma. Not remembering things, not sleeping, nightmares, all these symptoms would go, they promised, once she resolved her issues. Fat chance of that. Sean keeps talking, and she listens, tried to joke around, her hands clenched inside her pockets. They were two peas in a pod, once upon a time, that’s what Eva used to call them. They used to make a tent in her room, hide inside, make plans for the future.
On page 69, Lucy has just arrived in Hull for Christmas Eve and is talking with her cousin Sean as he drives her home. It eats away at her that she always has to lie about what’s going on in her life, and that she must swallow his perceptions and criticism, but she has no choice. Sean and and her adoptive mother Eva can’t ever know the truth about her, for their own safety. It is also Lucy’s deepest fear that should they find out, they would no longer love her. Despite these layers of duplicity, she shares a genuine closeness with Sean. They grew up together and have a real bond that can’t be severed.

Their conversation doesn’t reveal the main elements of the book—that she is an alien created by beings from another world, the Nafikh; that she must Serve Them; that They are violent and terrifying and she could be killed any day. But the scene does raises an essential theme, because Lucy’s relationship with Sean and Eva is all that keeps her going. If it weren’t for her ties to them, she might give up and end it all. If you have come face to face with your creator and know that you are worthless; if you know your purpose here on this Earth, and it is wretched, why bother carrying on? This is the question servs face every day, how to find meaning in an existence that is so utterly sordid and hopeless. But Lucy, who by chance was adopted by humans as a baby, has what no other serv can possibly comprehend: a family. She has the luck of knowing what it is to love, and to be loved. She has ties and responsibilities, people counting on her and believing in her, people who actually care. It will be what’s at stake for her, when things start to unravel.
Visit Patricia Ward's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"Beasts and Children"

Amy Parker was born in Okinawa, Japan, and spent most of her childhood on diplomatic and military compounds overseas. She returned to the United States after her high school graduation and attended Indiana University, where she studied comparative literature. She won a Michener fellowship in fiction from the University of Texas, Austin. Afterward, she spent four years doing intensive monastic practice at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the oldest Soto Zen monastery in the United States, and at Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center in Mill Valley, California. She received lay ordination in the Soto Zen lineage in 2007. She left the monastery for the Iowa Writers Workshop, where she graduated in 2012. She currently lives in Wichita with her son.

Parker applied the Page 69 Test to her debut story collection, Beasts and Children, and reported the following:
Oy… by sheer coincidence the most sexually explicit scene occurs on page 69. I’m a little bashful about quoting it here. It’s at the midpoint of the story “Rainy Season”, where we first meet two of the book’s protagonists, a pair of sisters, Maizie and Jill. The sisters are diplomatic brats, bored tweens caged up on their compound in Chiang Mai, Thailand, at a loss for activity, and totally unsupervised.

By page 69, Jill has swept off in the company of a prostitute and two very drunk tourists, to a karaoke bar in the Night Market in Chiang Mai. Her younger sister Maizie comes along, hoping to protect her. Instead, both girls get drunk on Long Island Ice Teas and things go from bad to worse. Jill has been flirting with the younger of the two tourists—he’s 20 to her 13, and she’s desperate for experience. In this moment his expectations and hers clash violently, to put it somewhat mildly. There’s an equally handsy gibbon encroaching toward the bottom of the page who is going to give her sister problems. It’s ridiculous and uncomfortable and humiliating—the whole scene is a nightmare.

Kyung slides his hand up past the elastic of her underpants and plunges a finger into her. Jill gasps. She is all slippery but it hurts. His finger works deeper. She tries to pull away but Kyung’s other hand squeezes her breast and she can’t move. Inside her is a wave she suspected when touching herself all alone, but this is different because it hurts and she can’t get away. Then Kyung leans in to kiss her, and his tongue, thick with liquor and cold, wraps her tongue and she can’t breathe. She doesn’t know how to kiss back, and she can’t breathe, so she, too panicked to care that they’re in public, she bites him.

Is it representative of the collection? In a way, yes, because many of the stories are about na├»ve or foolish people endangering themselves and others by taking action without thought to consequences—but it’s also somewhat misleading because “Rainy Season” is such a headlong, breakneck piece. Other parts of the book are more wry, or funny, and somewhat less manic. But this is a big moment in the collection because it’s when Jill realizes that her imagination is a source of danger. Her misguided excursion brings about more than the first kiss she’d hoped for, and her realization that unexamined fantasy and impulsive action have far-reaching, possibly irreparable consequences is one of the big epiphanies of the book. A thrust of a finger literally thrusts her into an extremely painful adult understanding of her own agency.
Visit Amy Parker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"The House on Primrose Pond"

Yona Zeldis McDonough is the author of novels such as A Wedding in Great Neck and You Were Meant for Me as well as dozens of books for children. She is the editor of and a contributor to The Barbie Chronicles: A Living Doll Turns Forty, as well as All the Available Light: A Marilyn Monroe Reader.

McDonough applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The House on Primrose Pond, and reported the following:
On page 69 of The House on Primrose Pond, Susannah Gilmore makes an important discovery. Ever since she moved into the New Hampshire house her parents left her and discovered a love letter to her mother that was clearly not written by her father, she’s been on quest. Talking to friends and neighbors of her parents, and combing the house for clues, Susannah is determined to learn the identity of her mother’s secret lover. And on page 69, she goes out to the woodshed, a place she has not yet explored. There, nearly buried by a stack of logs, is a small, flowered cosmetic bag which contains a tube of Revlon’s Fire and Ice lipstick—her mother’s signature shade—and a bottle of nail polish whose “contents had solidified to a dark, mottled mass.” And she also finds a bunch of yellowed clippings—poems from a now-folded local newspaper. One is a love poem entitled "Say Yes." Though it is signed with a nom de plume, this poem turns out to be instrumental in Susannah’s search, and the person to whom it leads her is the last person on Earth she would have suspected.
Learn more about the author and her work at Yona Zeldis McDonough's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Yona Zeldis McDonough & Willa and Holden.

The Page 69 Test: You Were Meant For Me.

My Book, The Movie: You Were Meant for Me.

Writers Read: Yona Zeldis McDonough.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 1, 2016

"Good on Paper"

Rachel Cantor is the author of the novels Good on Paper (Melville House 2016) and A Highly Unlikely Scenario (Melville House 2014). Two dozen of her short stories have appeared in venues like The Paris Review, One Story, Ninth Letter, Fence, and Kenyon Review, and she has received fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Millay Colony, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn, where she is always at work on another book.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Good on Paper and reported the following:
Page 69 opens Chapter 14, “Second Coming.” My narrator, Shira Greene, is at a turning point. She’s an underachieving translator who’s very unexpectedly taken on a job translating a Nobel Prize-winning poet. She’s terrified! For encouragement she visits her old friend Benny, proprietor of her neighborhood indie bookstore, People of the Book. Only to get to him, she has to go through his hostile gatekeeper Marie, bookstore sales clerk and occasional billboard artist:
It had been two and a half decades since I was lyricist for the proto-punk band Gory Days (What’s behind Door Number Two? It had better not be you, you, you!). In our Den of Propinquity, we listened to qawwali and Raffi, but sometimes when I was alone I played the band’s one cassette—the relentlessly pornographic Second and Third Coming—tapping my tambourine ironically against my thigh. When I entered People of the Book, and heard that Benny’s raga had been replaced by a grunge band I didn’t recognize, I felt old. I also felt like pulling my ear drums out with my fingernails.

And there she was, our sleepy connoisseur of noise, head resting on a pile of lit mags. Snoring, her hair no longer green but red, white, and blue. Dreaming up her next billboard, I was sure.

Hello! I shouted in her ear. When she didn’t respond, I went behind the counter and switched CDs: out with the Bloody Monkeys, in with Nikhil Banerjee.

Hey! Marie said, lifting her head. Who said you could do that?
Visit Rachel Cantor's website.

See Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books.

The Page 69 Test: A Highly Unlikely Scenario.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 31, 2016

"The Ex"

Alafair Burke is the New York Times bestselling author of The Ex, Long Gone, If You Were Here, and the Ellie Hatcher and Samantha Kincaid crime series.

She applied the Page 69 Test to The Ex and reported the following:
Page 69:
This is what makes the Page 69 project so fun: a bunch of words removed from their surrounding context. OK, so what's going on here?

The beginning of the page is an email from widower Jack Harris to his best friend, Charlotte. He's telling her about a woman he saw at the crack of dawn, barefoot in last night's party dress, drinking champagne from a bottle while reading a book in the grass. Maybe, he says, he's open to meeting someone new.

Why do we care about the email? Because busybody Charlotte responded by placing a "missed moment" ad online, searching for the mystery woman. When the mystery woman responds by inviting Jack to the waterfront for a second encounter, really bad things happen. Three people are shot, and one of them just happens to be connected to the death of Jack's wife three years earlier. Jack is arrested for a triple homicide.

Who else is on page 69? Buckley. She's Jack's teenaged daughter, the one who calls a lawyer for her dad after he's arrested. And the first-person narrator? That's Olivia Randall, the defense lawyer. But she's not just any defense lawyer. She's also Jack's ex-fiance, the one who ruined his life twenty years earlier. The one who hurt him so bad that even his daughter knows Olivia will be willing to fight for him now at any cost.

For Olivia, saving Jack is a way to make up for past regrets--to absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. In the process, she might also save herself.
Learn more about the book and author at Alafair Burke's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 30, 2016

"The Good Liar"

Nicholas Searle grew up in the southwest of England and studied languages at the University of Bath. He spent more years than he cares to remember in public service before deciding in 2011 to leave and begin writing fiction. He lives in the north of England.

Searle applied the Page 69 Test to The Good Liar, his first novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
But no: after a lunch of a greasy bratwurst smeared in garish mustard, bought from a street seller—a surprise, this, for Roy, given Betty’s dainty elegance—they are off again. They take the S-Bahn train and the bus to Charlottenburg to look at the palace and walk awhile in the Tiergarten district under budding chestnut trees, taking peeks at the large, silent villas protected by sophisticated security systems that line the genteel wide streets.

“I wonder what it must have been like to live here, in the nineteenth century,” she says, “or the early twentieth. Or the ’30s. The decadence, the forced fun, the glittering soirees. All that wealth, that confidence. Little did they know what was to become of them.”

“Oh yes,” he says, bored and sardonic at the same time. He is surprised by her energy and that light in her eyes. He thinks of himself as fit for his age but finds his limbs are weary, and craves the privacy of his hotel room and a quiet nap. He can do without this too, all this enthusiasm. He has lived a life long and eventful enough to know exactly how it was and needs no visual cues. He begins to wish he had never agreed to this trip.

“Oh dear,” says Betty, and his attention returns to the present.

“You look bored. And tired. Have we overdone it?”

“A little, maybe,” he replies with a tolerant smile.

“Let’s get you back to the hotel, then, shall we?”

She locates a cab, and he dozes as their voluble driver, against the backdrop of talk radio, rails against the fools on the roads as he accelerates and brakes erratically. It is all the fault of reunification and Europe, he says, these people flooding here from the East. Roy feels fragile and hears his heart beating. He can almost imagine himself in another age.

He gets his nap, but there is no time for a leisurely dinner as Betty has fluttered her eyelashes at the concierge and obtained tickets for the Berlin Philharmonic that evening.
It’s difficult to believe Page 69 has been chosen at random. It’s in Berlin, a place to which we return several times and contains some of the heart of the book, as well as – without giving the game away too much – smattering of hints and clues as to what lies at the book’s core.

Octogenarians Roy and Betty are in Berlin on a weekend break, having relatively recently found each other and moved in together. Betty’s paying and Roy would have preferred to go elsewhere. So he goes along grudgingly with her delight at being there and her immersion in the city’s culture and history. At heart though he’s seeking to edge his private agenda along and can’t see how this visit plays any material helpful role in that. The final straw is the classical music concert in the evening but Roy can’t afford to show too much distaste for the bourgeois proceedings. Instead, he hides his feelings and later that night goes out for an experience of Berlin’s seedier underbelly, ending up in peril.

On page 69 we can see the cogs of Roy and Betty’s relationship in motion and if we look carefully we may gain a glimpse at what’s really going on. But I hope you can’t; what I want you to sense is that all is not as it seems. Because it isn’t.

What a great page to pick!
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--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 29, 2016

"Up to This Pointe"

Jennifer Longo was a ballerina from ages eight to eighteen, until she eventually (reluctantly) admitted her talent for writing exceeded her talent for dance. The author of Six Feet Over It, she holds an MFA in Writing for Theater from Humboldt State University, where her obsessive love of Antarctica produced her thesis play about Antarctica’s Age of Exploration.

Longo applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Up to This Pointe, and reported the following:
Holy Moly! On page 69, Harper’s ballet teacher offers Harper, for the hundredth time, an opportunity to travel and live in England to become a certified Royal Academy Ballet instructor – then Harper, for the hundredth time, turns the opportunity down. This page, this moment, encompasses the entire crux of the conflict of Harper’s story. I’m having a real Freaky Friday moment here, this Page 69 thing is real, People! It’s the Ouija Board of book themes!
Learn more about the book and author at Jennifer Longo's website.

The Page 69 Test: Six Feet Over It.

My Book, The Movie: Six Feet Over It.

--Marshal Zeringue