She applied the Page 69 Test to her new Tess Monaghan novel, Another Thing to Fall, and reported the following:
As it happens, I have two versions: The regular hardcover and the large print, which just arrived today. In the regular hardcover, page 69 centers on a lunch among Tess Monaghan, a television producer and the young actress he thinks needs Tess as a bodyguard. It is set in Martick's, a one-of-a-kind Baltimore restaurant and begins:Read more about Another Thing to Fall and the author at Laura Lippman's website.
The waiter brought them more rolls, but Selene had already lost interest. For all her talk about her famous appetite and penchant for head sucking, Selene simply sniffed at the bread, leaving a whitish smear of flour beneath her nose. It looked rather natural to Tess. How strange Selene's world must be, where spoons were used for mirrors and mirrors were used --
But in the large print edition, page 69 falls toward the end of a scene in which Tess has interrupted a screening of Once Upon a Time in the West, and her boyfriend, Crow, begins lecturing his young protege, Lloyd, on the career of Charles Bronson.
Just out of Crow's eye line, Tess pretended to slump in catatonia at this pedantic discussion of Death Wish, and Lloyd began giggling, a high-pitched bubble of sound that reminded Tess he was at once a very young and very old seventeen.
Both go to the heart of the novel, but in such different ways. The first one is essentially the set-up: Actress needs protection. Problems, inevitably, ensue. And Tess's assumption that the actress uses cocaine is meant to be an example of bigotry. But the second page 69 is closer to the book's heart, which is concerned with how our culture's insane passion for film and television. Plus, there's just not enough discussion of Charles Bronson in contemporary fiction.
Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.