Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Katherine Howell's first book, Frantic, was released by Pan Macmillan in May 2007 in Australia, and will be published in 2008/09 in France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the UK. Her second book, The Darkest Hour, is scheduled for release in Australia in 2008.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Frantic and reported the following:
Paramedic Sophie Phillips has had a tough time lately. The struggle to juggle fulltime work with home life as mother to ten-month-old Lachlan and wife to police officer Chris is difficult enough, but Chris has become moody and argumentative since being assaulted two months ago. Add in the events of the other day when Sophie lost a mother and baby in an emergency delivery gone horribly wrong, and was then stalked and threatened by the bereaved husband and father, and it’s no wonder she’s stressed.

Now she and colleague Mick are on nightshift, at a drug overdose death in a park in central Sydney, expecting a long wait before police arrive to take over the case. She’s tired and unhappy and just wants the night to be over.

‘Wow. This is what I call service,’ Mick said.

Sophie turned to see two police cars crossing the dark lawns, their beacons going. ‘Why two? And why the lights?’

Mick’s mobile rang. ‘Mick Schultz,’ he answered. ‘Yes ... God, really? Are you sure? ... Of course. Yes, they’re here now. Okay, yes.’ He hung up.

Sophie’s stomach lurched at the look on his face. ‘What is it?’

Mick took a moment to clip his phone on his belt. The police cars drew closer. Their lights threw alternating red and blue beams across Mick’s pale face.

‘Mick?’ Sophie said.

‘You should prepare yourself.’

Sophie thought she’d never heard such a stupid statement from him. ‘What are you—’

‘It’s Chris. He’s been shot.’

‘That’s not funny.’

‘Sophie, I wish I was joking.’

The police cars pulled up beside them. The whole world was now blue and red. Sophie stared at Mick then heard the car doors open. ‘Mrs Phillips?’

She turned to face them. The looks on their faces told her it was true. Her mind teemed with questions – where, how, why – but two stood out. ‘Is Chris alive? Is Lachlan okay?’

A sergeant came closer. It was Hugh Green from Wynyard. He took her hand. His palm was clammy. ‘Chris is alive. He’s in Royal North Shore.’

She waited but he didn’t say any more. ‘Is he okay? Is he conscious?’

Hugh’s gaze was steady but he hesitated before lowering and softening his voice. ‘He was shot in the head.’

Sophie couldn’t breathe. ‘Is — is Lachlan hurt?’

Hugh’s hand tightened on hers. ‘We can’t find him.’

This scene really is the turning point in the book, as it both kicks off Sophie’s desperate search for her child and signals the delivery of the longed-for big case to Detective Ella Marconi. Of course, there’s that old saying about being careful what you wish for....
Read an excerpt from Frantic and learn more about Katherine Howell and her writing at her website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue