Friday, July 11, 2008

"The Dirty Secrets Club"

Meg Gardiner has practiced law and taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Originally from Southern California, she now lives with her family in London.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Dirty Secrets Club, and reported the following:
The Dirty Secrets Club is a thriller with a psychological bent. In the book, San Francisco is spooked by a series of high profile murder-suicides. Forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett is called in by the SFPD to perform a psychological autopsy on prosecutor Callie Harding. Callie has sailed her BMW off a bridge, killing herself and three others. Jo must determine whether Callie's death was accident, suicide, or murder. And she must do so before the next A-lister goes down and takes innocent bystanders along.

The novel is fast-paced, with plenty of action. And Page 69 (in the hardcover U.S. edition) drops readers into the book's most procedural scene. It's the major scene that shows Jo doing the nitty-gritty of her job -- interviewing Callie's ex-husband. Jo is digging into Callie's background to find out whether she was suicidal. But as she talks to the grief stricken, angry ex about Callie's fears and fantasies, the interview goes very wrong, very fast. Things turn nasty, and edge toward violence.

She heard an inarticulate cry. She looked up and saw Harding punch the bookshelf with the flat of his hand. He fought a sob, mouth open. He was staring at the framed photo.

He swung an arm at the bookshelf and swept a row of books to the floor. She put her hands flat on the desk. He spun and hurled the photo across the room.

Jo ducked. It flew straight past her head and thwacked the wall like an ax.

"Hey," she said.

Harding swooped across the room and pulled the keyboard away from her. "Get out."

"Mr. Harding--"

"Now." He was coming around the desk.

She jumped to her feet before he could grab the chair or touch her. "Close enough."

He brought himself up short, a foot from her. A vein was throbbing in his temple.

"Please step back," she said.

The page gives a sense of Jo's stubbornness, her instinct for self preservation, and her feistiness. She thinks: Get right back in their face, and fast. Her attitude is that you can talk your way out of things, but not if you're flat on the deck. Experience has taught her that catastrophe can happen in the blink of an eye. Reacting immediately to the threat puts you halfway toward getting out alive. In a city rattled by earthquakes, with a psychopathic killer stalking the shadows, Jo had better be ready.
Read an excerpt from The Dirty Secrets Club, and learn more about the author and her work at Meg Gardiner's website and blog.

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

--Marshal Zeringue