Monday, April 2, 2007

"Big Numbers"

A former reporter for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the Los Angeles Times, Jack Getze covered financial and economic issues for more than 15 years. Switching professions, Getze later sold stocks and bonds for a regional securities firm on the New Jersey Shore.

Big Numbers, his first published novel, is based on his experiences as a retail broker, sales manager, and financial executive. He applied the "page 69 test" to the novel and reported the following:
I'm disappointed my page 69 didn't have more humor on it, as I think Big Numbers makes most readers laugh a lot. But I have to admit the passage is representative of the suspense novel, even containing reference to my protagonist's symbol of desperation, the pick-up mounted camper he lives in. And this page clearly shows my sparse writing style. Page 69 begins with a one-liner that doesn't need a set-up, and I carried the scene a few graphs into page 70 because this is the end of Chapter Twenty.

I mean how can a guy compete with something that’s fourteen inches long and hums?

I open my eyes. The hospital room is filled with gray morning light.

A dark human shape comes into focus at the foot of the steel bed and my head snaps off the pillow. Pain shoots down my neck. My blood pumps with adrenaline. Who is that?

“Hiya, Carr. Detective Mallory of the Branchtown Police.”

I sigh, take a breath. My heart begins to slow down. I wonder if cops do these things on purpose. And I know this guy, too, thought we were sort of friends. Mallory is one of only six detectives on the Branchtown force, a tall Irishman with graying red hair and hard blue eyes. We coached T-ball together three years ago.

“Hey, Jim. This an official visit?”

“It’s official,” he says. “I need to ask you a few questions about the incident at Shore Securities yesterday. First, tell me in your own words exactly what happened when you encountered your client Samuel Attica?”

“Samson, actually.”

“Okay. Samson Attica.”

I go through the whole episode ninety-nine-percent truthfully, using enough detail to make myself comfortable with the story. But in the end, it’s a story. Of course I could see Mr. Vick had a gun. His famous Smith & Wesson. But I’m not ratting out the boss.

“You’re telling me you didn’t see a weapon in Vick Bonacelli’s hand?”

“He could have had a gun,” I say. “He could have had a box of candy, or flowers. I didn’t look.”

“You’re lying.”

“I am not.”

“Why? Scared you’ll lose your job? Vick already told us he was the shooter.”

A much younger Branchtown detective scurries into my hospital room. It’s Mallory’s partner, I guess. The kid looks like an eighteen-year-old Eagle Scout. “Jim. I need to talk to you,” he says.

Mallory and the Eagle Scout are only out of my sight and earshot maybe thirty seconds, but Detective Mallory’s hot-wired when he saunters back to my bed. Flushed around the neck. Eyes brighter. Like a new user and current beneficiary of stimulant drugs.

“You own a pickup truck with a camper?” Mallory says.


“A yellow 1993 Chevy with lots of rust?”

“Bought it three weeks ago.”

Mallory and his young partner exchange a glance. When my former T-ball coaching mate puts his gaze back on me, Detective James Mallory of the Branchtown Police Department thinks he’s holding a straight flush to my pair.

“Put your pants on, Carr. We’re going for a ride.”
Visit Jack Getze's website and read an excerpt from Big Numbers.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Series.

--Marshal Zeringue