Monday, June 25, 2007

"The Darkness Inside"

John Rickards is the author of the acclaimed psychological thrillers Winter's End, The Touch of Ghosts, and The Darkness Inside.

He applied the "page 69 test" to The Darkness Inside and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Darkness Inside is actually pretty dull when taken out of context. Sure, the guy being questioned by the two Feds is … odd, but without knowing who he is it doesn’t add up to much. In context, we know this guy’s a genuinely disgusting multiple child murderer and that this is part if a flashback to his first meeting with the main character and the investigation which caught him. Important stuff, right? Well, without reading the rest you can’t answer that, I suppose. Maybe it’s not important. Maybe the rest of the book’s about the decline of the herring industry and this whole scene’s superfluous.

Anyway, on its own, p69 is probably one of the dullest pages in the book. It’s just a cop talking to a bad guy. In fairness, the first section of the book does feature conversations between the two of them pretty regularly (back in the present, years after the p69 scene, when they’re trying to find out where Cody Williams’ last few victims are buried before he shuffles off this mortal coil), but the conversations are rather different in tone and point. This is just one of those, “Where were you on the night of X?” opening police salvos we’ve all seen and heard a million times.

Then the whole thing switches to a discussion of the herring industry and state catch quotas and the plot really kicks off, of course.

Cue the quote:

His home is a narrow two-storey house with a square patch of slightly ragged greenery that passes for a front yard. A few shrubs, some flowers, starting to grow rampant. An unmarked white van sits on the driveway. When Williams – a wiry guy with long curly hair tied back in a ponytail, fit physique beneath a grey T-shirt, but pale to look at – opens the door, a wash of warm stale air, moist and acrid, floods past him. Slick skin reeking of old sweat. More ancient scents embedded in the fabric of the house itself. My nostrils recoil, but I try not to show it.

“Mr Williams, I’m Special Agent Alex Rourke and this is Agent Jeff Agostini.” We hold up our badges. “We need to ask you a handful of routine questions, if you have a few minutes.”

One side of Williams mouth twitches into a smile. “This is about that kiddie thing, right?” His choice of words jars. “I’ve seen it on the news. Then someone from the cops called about the van, asked where I was.”

“That’s right, Mr Williams. All we’re doing is asking people a few standard questions, just to eliminate them from our lists.”

“You guys the only two they got working on that? I’d kinda figured there’d be more of you. I mean, where’re we at now, four of them girls gone? Five?”

“There’s a lot of cops working on this too, Mr Williams.”

“A lot, huh?”


“And all they’ve got for you two to do is ask ‘routine questions’, Agent Rourke? With all them pretty young things still missing?”
Learn more about The Darkness Inside -- and read an excerpt -- at the official John Rickards website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue