Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Cup of Blood"

Jeri Westerson's first six books featuring Crispin Guest are Veil of Lies, Serpent in the Thorns, The Demon's Parchment, Troubled Bones, Blood Lance, and Shadow of the Alchemist.

Westerson applied the Page 69 Test to Cup of Blood, a prequel to the series, and reported the following:
Here we are in the middle of the protagonist, Crispin Guest's, thoughts. He has just run into his former fiance seven years after his fall from grace and the end of that betrothal. Crispin has always been a man to wear his heart on his sleeve, and in this prequel to the acclaimed series, he is no different. Sour about life, about his situation (banished from court, and bereft of his title, lands, wealth--all that defined him) he goes on, finding a kind of penance in his new occupation of "Tracker," the medieval equivalent of a private detective. In Cup of Blood, Crispin finds a dead man in his favorite tavern who turns out to be a Knight Templar, guarding a most precious relic which has vanished. Hired by more Templar knights to find the object, he runs afoul of minions of the French anti-pope who also seek it. In the midst of his troubles, a good turn is done him by an unlikely source; an orphaned cutpurse by the name of Jack Tucker, who insists on being Crispin's servant.

From page 69:
She never even fought it. She never stood up to Stephen and came to me. I thought she might. But what woman would have done? Willingly become a pauper and the laughing stock of court, all for him? How could he blame her? Yet he did. A year earlier they had both signed the betrothal contracts and the families thought it a fine match. But something happened between the contracts and the courtship: Crispin fell in love.

How could I not? She was so beautiful. There were many days they would steal away, leaving her maidservants behind. They would kiss and touch and whisper those silly phrases only spoken in romances and love songs. And though he loved and desired her, often raining kisses along her throat, he would go no further. A proper courtier was he.

A proper fool!

Only a mere fortnight after his disgrace, another man conquered that virginity which should have been his. It was that pain that pierced him the most, that could not be undone.

He looked at Jack standing in the tinker’s doorway, waiting for orders. What was he to do with the boy? Jack was like a stray dog that would not leave, even when kicked. “Tucker, I appreciate your loyalty, but this has to end. Now. When I get back, I do not expect to find you here.”

“But Master…”

“I am not your master. You must leave.” He turned on his heel, uncertain where he was going. Did it matter? He needed to think, but it was difficult with a headache pounding between his temples.

He turned up the street to Gutter Lane—walking toward the Boar’s Tusk—when he saw it. A man in a long, dark robe, hood up over his head, standing under the eave of a shop across the way. He merely looked in Crispin’s direction, or at least his covered head and shadowed face was turned toward him.

A fleeting sense of recognition propelled Crispin toward the man, but the man abruptly turned and dashed up the lane.

Crispin paused before he leaped forward, sprinting after the man.
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.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Blade of the Samurai"

Susan Spann is a transactional attorney focusing on publishing law and a former law school professor. She has a deep interest in Asian culture and has studied Mandarin and Japanese. Her hobbies include Asian cooking, fencing, knife and shuriken throwing, traditional archery, martial arts, rock climbing, and horseback riding.

Spann applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Blade of the Samurai, and reported the following:
Page 69 drops into a conversation between my ninja detective, Hiro Hattori, his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo, and a Portuguese weapons merchant (Luis Alvares) whose sales finance Father Mateo’s missionary work in Japan.

The racist, self-important Luis alternates between a useful discussion and his usual litany of complaints about his samurai customers— in this case, the shogun’s ally Matsunaga Hisahide.

Hisahide needs the weapons to defend Kyoto against the approaching forces of a rival daimyo, Oda Nobunaga, who intends to seize the capital from the shogun. Hiro also believes Lord Oda’s men are behind the murder of the shogun’s cousin two days before, and the evidence suggests Hiro’s friend and fellow ninja, Ito Kazu, is involved in the plot.

Unbeknownst to Luis, Ito Kazu is hiding in Hiro’s clothing chest, hoping Hiro will help him prove his innocence … or at least escape the city before the shogun tracks him down.

The page contains the tension, verbal sparring, and hidden clues (here, literally, in the form of Kazu) which characterize the novel and the series. The page and chapter end (as many do) with a cliffhanger, which I hope keeps readers engaged and turning pages.
Visit Susan Spann's website.

My Book, The Movie: Blade of the Samurai.

Writers Read: Susan Spann.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 21, 2014

"The Girls from Corona del Mar"

Rufi Thorpe received her MFA from the University of Virginia in 2009. A native of California, she currently lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and son.

Thorpe applied the Page 69 Test to The Girls From Corona del Mar, her debut novel, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Girls from Corona del Mar plunks the reader down in the midst of a very long, winding story about Lorrie Ann's mother being attacked in her home, bludgeoned over the head with a ceramic gnome, and then hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury. It is a swarm of characters, tiny details, "and then's" and would not be at all how I would introduce the reader to the book.
And so it came to be that Bobby never returned to the hospital that night, but instead had his buddy Seth pretend to be the sheriff's office and call Lorrie Ann, cryptically telling her to go to the hospital, where her mother was in critical condition.
It's a lot of names to keep track of, a lot of long sentences with too many dependent clauses. I would rather, of course, that they start with the first sentence of the book, "You're going to have to break one of my toes," I explained.

And yet, this feverish run-on quality is something my work is always teetering on the edge of, flirting with. It seems to be a space I find again and again, even when I try not to. In my experience, life is never simple, and things happen because of a cascade as opposed to a single trigger, and so I try to create this in my work, sometimes obsessively. There is also a comedic quality to The Girls from Corona del Mar, even though it is also a very dark book, that I think can be a little baffling. Ultimately, it is a book about growing up and trying to love your best friend even when you can't understand her at all. It is about your life turning out nothing like you could have ever expected it would. It's about trying to be a good person, even when you are positively sure you are a bad person. As far as I can tell, life is thrilling and beautiful and scary and funny, and so I tried to write a book that was like that too.
Visit Rufi Thorpe's website.

Writers Read: Rufi Thorpe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"All I Love and Know"

Judith Frank is the author of Crybaby Butch, which was awarded a Lambda Literary Award in 2005. She received a BA from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a PhD in English literature and an MFA in creative writing from Cornell. She was the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts and has held residencies at Yaddo and MacDowell. A professor of English at Amherst College, she lives in Massachusetts with her partner and two children.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, All I Love and Know, and reported the following:
How lucky! – page 69 of All I Love and Know is a pivotal moment of the novel! It’s the end of a chapter, for one, so ideally, it rings out. Partners Daniel Rosen and Matt Greene are in Jerusalem; Daniel’s twin brother Joel and his wife Ilana have been killed in a café bombing, and the couple has come for the burial. They are devastated, and they are the only ones who know that in their will, the deceased parents designated Daniel the guardian of their children. In this scene, the Israeli lawyer (Assaf) discusses the will with Daniel, Daniel’s parents (Lydia and Sam), and Ilana’s parents (Malka and Yaakov) and reveals that in Israel, the decree in the will doesn’t necessarily hold – that the Israeli courts will decide who gets custody based on “the good of the child.” Malka and Yaakov, Holocaust survivors who have lost their only daughter, are horrified that the children might be taken out of Israel, not to mention raised by gay men. Daniel’s mother Lydia is stricken because she doesn’t like Matt; she thinks he’s vain and shallow. Daniel feels desperately undermined: the possibility of an Israeli court ruling in favor of a gay man seems unlikely to him, and the prospect of raising the children has been the only thing keeping him going after the loss of his brother. Everybody in the room is exhausted, grief-stricken, and stressed out.
“Daniel,” his father said.

“What are my chances?” Daniel demanded in Hebrew, ignoring his father, fixing Assaf with a cold look. He remembered something. “They’re American citizens; doesn’t that count for something?”
“Not necessarily, Daniel,” Assaf said. “You’ll still need a court order to take them out of the country.” He reached forward and clasped Daniel’s shoulder. “But don’t assume anything, either good or bad. There are many factors.”

His father gripped his elbow. “Don’t worry, son,” he said softly. “We’ll fight this.”
Daniel shook his arm free. “I don’t understand this,” he said. “The parents decided what was for the good of the children.” He felt he was about to cry, and mortified, covered his face with his hands. “Poor Joel and Ilana,” he moaned. “It’s what they wanted.”

“This is crazy,” Lydia was saying, looking to Sam for corroboration.

The lawyer crouched and tried to take them all in with his gaze. “Everybody, please be calm,” he said, first in English, then in Hebrew. “Look. We are shocked by these terrible deaths. When we recover a little bit, I know that we’ll all do our best to make sure that Gal and Noam have lives that are as safe and normal as possible.”

Normal? Daniel burst into tears.

Malka was clutching at Yaakov and asking him how Ilana could do this to them, and he was urging her, with increasing impatience, to calm down, to try to understand that the court would surely be on their side.
Visit Judith Frank's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Alecia Whitaker is the author of The Queen of Kentucky and Wildflower.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Wildflower and reported the following:
I think this page in Wildflower gives the reader a great glimpse at the rising star of the main character, Bird Barrett. She has just been discovered by a talent scout and is on the verge of getting a deal. This may not bode so well for the rest of the members in her family band, since the scout is only interested in Bird as a solo artist, but it's exciting for readers to get a behind-the-scenes look at life on Music Row. I think the last sentence of the chapter, which just happens to end on page 69, says it all:

"...I have eight hours to turn the stories on the pages of my journal into songs worthy of a record deal."
Learn more about the book and author at Alecia Whitaker's website.

Writers Read: Alecia Whitaker (February 2014). 

Writers Read: Alecia Whitaker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 18, 2014

"A Possibility of Violence"

D. A. Mishani is a literary scholar specializing in the history of detective literature. His first novel, The Missing File, was the first book in his literary crime series introducing the police inspector Avraham Avraham.

Mishani applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel featuring the inspector, A Possibility of Violence, and reported the following:
Page 69 in A Possibility of Violence, the second installment in my detective series featuring police Inspector Avraham Avraham, finds my protagonist in his station in Holon, again, moments before another team meeting in which he would present the case he is working on now. This case opened with an explosive device placed near a daycare and gradually becomes even more violent and complicated.

I emphasize the again and the another because this page and this scene represents one of difficulties and one of the pleasures of writing, and reading, a detective series: repetition.

In the first novel in the series, The Missing File, Avraham already was in this same room and in similar team-meetings. And there he is again, and me too, writing a similar scene but with the distance of time, his time as police investigator, and my time as a writer.

The time that has passed from the previous case (and novel) is omnipresent in this scene, at least when I read it now: Avraham remembers the last time he was in that room, exactly as I remembered it while writing. And he wants this staff-meeting to be different, just as I wanted it to be a different scene. He wants it to be different because in the previous case he made some crucial mistakes and he's eager to prove (to himself and others) that he has learned his lesson; I wanted it to be different because a writer can't write the same scene twice. But on the other hand, doesn't the pleasure we have upon reading a detective series also lie in this repetitious return to the same characters, same locations, sometimes even same scenes?

I think that while reading my page 69 I discover a true protagonist of every detective series: the time that passes; the need to change with time - but also the desire to freeze it.

Avraham, I believe, passed the second investigation test – he knew how to change and so his second case ends quite differently than the first one. This time he leads the investigation to a successful resolution. But did I manage to pass the second-novel-in-the-series test? Did I write a new novel while not forgetting the (reader's and writer's) desire to return to the first? I'll let you decide.
Learn more about the book and author at D. A. Mishani's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Missing File.

The Page 69 Test: The Missing File.

Writers Read: D. A. Mishani.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"The Stager"

Susan Coll is the author of the novels The Stager, Beach Week, Acceptance, Rockville Pike, and

Her work has appeared in the Washington Post,, and a variety of other publications including The Asian Wall Street Journal and the International Herald Tribune. Acceptance was made into a television movie starring the hilarious Joan Cusack.

Coll applied the Page 69 Test to The Stager and reported the following:
I love the page 69 test, and have taken it several times now. It always seems to work---or maybe it’s simply the case that every page of every book contains critical book DNA.

Lars Jorgenson is a former tennis star who has become obese, depressed, and addicted to a cocktail of prescription drugs. In the scene on page 69 he is lying in bed in his London hotel room, but he is, at the same time, inside his wife’s head. He knows her thoughts and he can hear the conversation in the room even though he is not actually there. He is devastated to learn he has not been invited to the dinner party.

“Why, for the love of God, am I privy to all this private chatter?” he asks at the top of the page.

This is an important question, and one that speaks to a key plot point in the novel. In fact this entire page contains three critical strands of the novel:

1. Lars is beginning to figure out that he has developed an omniscient point of view, which a few pages later he will discover is the side effect of mixing too many medications containing the letters X and Z.

2. Lars gets out of bed and draws the curtains to block out the light, even though it is already dark outside. Lars’s obsession with the light is an important theme throughout the novel.

3. Lars has become obsessed with Jorek, the Polish handyman who is helping to install a skylight in the new London home that does not have enough light.

The only thing missing on this page is the rabbit, but he is arguably there in spirit.
Learn more about the book and author at Susan Coll's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Susan Coll & Zoe.

The Page 69 Test: Acceptance.

The Page 69 Test: Beach Week.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Susan Slater's books include the Ben Pecos Indian series and the Dan Mahoney mysteries.

Slater applied the Page 69 Test to Rollover, the second Dan Mahoney novel, and reported the following:
I love the page 69 “test”. I once took a workshop with editor/agent Donald Maass who said that there “must be tension on every page that you write—no matter what you write!” I assume that even meant cookbooks! Maybe something like “will the soufflé fall?” Well, maybe not cookbooks but it’s great advice and absolutely needs to be taken to heart by mystery writers!

When I read this assignment, I couldn’t wait to turn to the sixty-ninth page of Rollover—and (thank God) I wasn’t disappointed. It’s the last page of Chapter Seven and ties up one of the first of several loose ends. Actually, it gives the name of a possible culprit who might have set up Dan Mahoney to be killed and fingers another. One of those “the plot thickens” sorts of events.

Dan who barely escaped with his life after a rollover accident (that wasn’t an accident) is trying to find out just who knew which route he was taking from Hobbs, NM to Wagon Mound, NM. He’s just called the insurance office in Hobbs where he wrapped up a case of insurance fraud for a United Life and Casualty satellite office. (See the first Dan Mahoney mystery, Flash Flood) And the secretary tells him someone called:
“Do you remember what she asked?”

“Well, they were planning a little welcoming get-together for that afternoon and it would make a difference which way you were coming. That is, the back way would get you there quicker but up through Albuquerque would be an easier drive—more four-lane.”

Lie number three. “And you told her I was taking the scenic route?”

“Yes, up through Roy. I remember you saying that you’d never seen the lesser prairie. And I mentioned that you’d gotten away early . . . She was so sweet and the party sounded so thoughtful.
The caller’s name was Amber and was a possible direct tie-in to the bank and one Lawrence Woods, its president. This page is loaded with foreshadowing and solves one aspect of who had him followed, cut his car’s hoses stalling him on the side of the road and then tries to kill him. In all modestly I’d move forward after this page and read on. Page 69 of Rollover passed the test!
Learn more about Rollover at the publisher's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Susan Slater & Toby and Tess.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"The Madonna and the Starship"

James Morrow is the author of the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Towing Jehovah, the Nebula Award-winning novella Shambling Towards Hiroshima, and the New York Times Notable Book Blameless in Abaddon. His recent novels include The Last Witchfinder, hailed by the Washington Post as “literary magic,” and The Philosopher’s Apprentice, which received a rave review from Entertainment Weekly.

Morrow applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Madonna and the Starship, and reported the following:
So I cracked the spine, turned to page 69, overlooked the fellationic connotations, and found what amounts to a summary of the plot. This pleased me. The Madonna and the Starship is a pretty complex machine, with lots of moving parts, and I’m glad I decided to periodically recapitulate the basic situation (while trying to avoid schematic exposition). You want to make the reader’s job as easy as possible.

Our hero, TV actor-writer Kurt Jastrow, and his almost-girlfriend, religious playwright Connie Osborne, are bent on “foiling the Qualimosans.” The hyper-rationalist extraterrestrials in question have appeared at the NBC Studios circa 1953, subsequently bestowing an award on Kurt for his role as an eccentric scientist on the live children’s program, Uncle Wonder’s Attic. It’s the aliens’ way of thanking Kurt for keeping the light of reason burning throughout the Milky Way Galaxy.

The plot heats up when the Qualimosans notice a rehearsal for an installment of Not By Bread Alone called “Sitting Shivah for Jesus.” Horrified by the program’s endorsement of the supernatural, the aliens lay plans for turning a death-ray on the entire viewership when the show is broadcast on the imminent Sunday morning. Kurt and Connie resolve to convince the invaders that Not By Bread Alone is actually satiric in intent, which means our heroes have a mere forty hours to write, cast, and produce an irreverent version of Connie’s script. Of course, the Qualimosans must be put out of commission for that interval—a task Kurt turns over to his Greenwich Village roommates, Lenny and Eliot.

My favorite line here is Lenny’s naïve remark, “I never imagined they’d be so antagonistic to God.” But I’m chagrined to recall that I never got around to researching whether there was a Rexall drugstore anywhere near Rockefeller Center in 1953.

Connie and I agreed that, as a first step in foiling the Qualimosans, I should secretly contact my roommates and prepare them for two guests whose resemblance to immense blue bipedal lobsters was best accorded an extraterrestrial interpretation. A Rexall drugstore on 54th Street supplied the necessary pay telephone. Connie contributed the nickel. Lenny answered on the first ring. Probably owing to his bohemian sensibility, he greeted my narrative of alien invasion with minimal skepticism, and he seemed to accept the logic of my argument: only a last-minute Not By Bread Alone rewrite could save two million innocent television viewers from an X-13 death-ray.

“I always knew the flying-saucer people were out there, and sooner or later they’d land on Earth,” said Lenny. “But I never imagined they’d be so antagonistic to God.”

“They’re logical positivists, or so Connie tells me.”

“Eliot’s going to have a lot of trouble with this,” said Lenny, “especially their plan to throw all those Christians to the lions.”
Visit James Morrow's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Philosopher’s Apprentice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 14, 2014

"The Dog Year"

Ann Garvin is a professor of health and nutrition at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater; she also teaches creative writing in the Masters of Fine Arts program at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Garvin applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Dog Year, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Lucy dropped her head. "I love denial, I don’t know how I’d get through a day without it.” Lucy swallowed and said, “After my husband died." She stopped, held her hand up to signal Tig to wait. She tried again. "Richard had a penchant for reading obituaries. He cut out the more memorable deaths or photographs and tacked them to the fridge." She shrugged. "Sometimes it was a story he liked. Other times there was something about the face. It sounds morbid, I know. He saw it as a reminder to stay in the present." Lucy stared at the swirl in the carpet, heard her husband's voice, Life is what you do, Lucy my sweet. And you do it until you die.

"He liked to quote Zorba the Greek when he was being philosophical about life. The last obits he saved were photographs of two men, printed next to each other in the newspaper. Bob Grabben and Stanley Stolen died on the same day in August." She stopped, looked at Tig. "I remember wondering if Mr. Stolen or Mr. Grabben had ever shoplifted, self-fulfilling prophecy and all. I guess I started after that."

"You think your husband was giving you some kind of coping strategy?"

"A message from beyond? God no." Lucy paused and looked around the room. "That's all I got. I don't know. I had to do something."

"Are you going to keep taking stuff, Lucy? Do you think you can stop?”

Lucy's eyes drifted off and floated to a corner in the room. "Women like me. We aren't just given things. There's no one standing in line to help us hang a light fixture, change a tire."

"Women like you?"

"You wouldn't understand. You couldn't, not with your long neck and perfect eyebrows." Tig sat back. "Women like me," Lucy said, "We have to ask. Stand in line. Take."

"So, that's what you tell yourself? That’s your justification?"

Lucy scoffed. Closed her face like the door of a safe in an old western. Spun the lock shut. "I want to go back to work. When can I go back to work?"
It’s interesting that page 69 is very representative of the book. It is a conversation between Lucy after she has lost her husband and gotten herself in trouble. It’s so interesting that this pages touches on so many of the themes in the book. The only thing it doesn’t really show is the humor in this story writing. There is some imbedded here, the obituaries on the fridge the two men, who have funny names but that is all.

I’m actually mad about page 69 and I think I will use it in the future for reading.
Visit Ann Garvin's website.

Writers Read: Ann Garvin.

My Book, The Movie: The Dog Year.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"The Hundred-Year House"

Rebecca Makkai is a Chicago-based writer whose first novel, The Borrower, is a Booklist Top Ten Debut, an Indie Next pick, an O Magazine selection, and one of Chicago Magazine's choices for best fiction of 2011. Her short fiction has been chosen for The Best American Short Stories for four consecutive years (2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008), and appears regularly in journals like Harper's, Tin House, Ploughshares, and New England Review.

Makkai applied the Page 69 Test to her second novel, The Hundred-Year House, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Zee went back and forth on the spelling of effect, but figured the three imaginary girls would be imaginary English majors, and would get it right. She left two copies in the printer trays where they could be found by students, then stuck one copy in Shaumber’s mailbox and one in Blum’s.
At some point, early in every novel, a character needs to cross a line, to do something she wouldn’t have done on page one. (Think of Bilbo Baggins finally leaving his hobbit hole with those dwarves.) For Zee, this is that point: she has just sabotaged a colleague. She wants Sid Cole out of the college English Department for several reasons, one of which is that her husband would be a prime candidate for his job. And she believes him to be guilty of a lifetime of sexual harassment – she’s just manufacturing a situation here to prove it. What she’s done is download hundreds of pornographic images (this is 1999, so it takes her a while) onto his office computer; then she’s written a letter from three anonymous students who feel violated by the images they’ve seen when they visit Cole’s office.

As for whether this page is representative of the novel – yes and no. As a plot point, it’s a tangent. The novel is much more about the house where Zee lives, and its history as an arts colony in the 1920s. Although the book starts in 1999, the narrative soon takes us back to the 50’s and the 20’s and then to 1900. Obviously (and unfortunately), those sections don’t have much computer porn in them. But thematically, there is something central going on here: the book questions the idea of fate, and whether we’re drawn toward prewritten destinies, or if we can will the future into being. In fact, Zee does manage to create the exact controversy she wished for – but by the time it comes about, it’s the last thing she wants.

On another note, I do find it entirely apt that my 69th page is about porn.
Learn more about the author and her work at Rebecca Makkai's website, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Rebecca Makkai (August 2009).

My Book, The Movie: The Borrower.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Dead Float"

Formerly a research scientist and international business executive, award-winning author Warren C. Easley lives in Oregon where he writes fiction and tutors GED students.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Dead Float, the second book in the Cal Claxton Oregon mystery series, and reported the following:
In Dead Float, one of the themes I explore is how my protagonist, Cal Claxton, reacts when thrown into an ever-deepening crisis that could cost him his freedom, if not his life. Cal’s a burned out ex-L.A. prosecutor who has retreated to rural Oregon in the aftermath of his wife’s suicide. For therapy and to please his daughter, Claire, he takes up fly fishing and winds up helping a good friend guide a party of high tech execs through the magnificent Deschutes River Canyon. Things turn ugly when one of the party member’s throat is slashed during the first night. Everyone in the party is a suspect, including Cal. He realizes the fishing knife he’d used to help prepare dinner the night before is now missing, but fails to mention it to the investigators. A gift from Claire, the knife had his initials on it.

On the page 69, we pick up the action when Cal is called back by the investigating officers for a second interview. “Needless to say, I wasn’t brimming with confidence when I presented myself at the front desk,” he tells us when he arrives. There’s another complication—one of the investigating detectives from rural Jefferson County, William “Bull” Dorn, had already taken an instant dislike to Cal in the first interview, an enmity Cal had reciprocated.

When Cal enters the interview room, Dorn speaks first: ‘“Well, well,” Dorn said as he looked up, stubbed out his cigarette, and showed a thin, reptilian smile. “If it isn’t the hotshot L.A. lawyer.”’

The second detective seems more reasonable. But, of course, Cal realizes this is probably a game of good-cop, bad-cop. When shown his knife, which had been recovered from a sandbar in the river, not far from the murder scene, the noose begins to tighten. In Cal’s words, “I realized now with sparkling clarity that I should have told them at the first interview that my knife might be missing. But it was too late now. The explanation I offered sounded lame, but at least it was the truth.”

The news isn’t good, but there’s something else that Cal left out of that first interview, something he needs to set straight—he had had an affair with the wife of the murder victim.

That piece of news was going to make Bull Dorn’s day!
Visit Warren C. Easley's Facebook page.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Warren C. Easley & Theo.

--Marshal Zeringue