Sunday, July 6, 2008

"Exile Trust"

Vincent H. O’Neil's first novel, Murder in Exile, won the St. Martin’s Minotaur/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition.

He applied the Page 69 Test to the latest Frank Cole/Exile mystery, Exile Trust, and reported the following:
Oddly enough, my new novel Exile Trust passes the Page 69 Test. Page 69 is quite indicative of the rest of the book, and a reader glancing over it might just become intrigued enough to read more.

Prior to Page 69, the main character Frank Cole has been playing host to his old friend Mark Ruben, a New York lawyer visiting him in his new home of Exile, Florida. Cole works as a fact checker for local insurance outfits, and Ruben has come to Florida to coordinate a legal case with a firm in Tallahassee.

The Exile Chief of Police, Denny Dannon, had asked Frank to help the town bank locate some safe deposit box-holders who had moved away without leaving a forwarding address. While Frank is on the job, an impostor tricks the safe deposit manager, Susan Wilmington, into giving him access to his "wife's" security box. When Frank tries to contact the true owner, he finds that she has recently died of a household accident in nearby Preston—and that her "husband" has been dead for years.

Just then a sultry DA named Vera Cienfuegos throws Frank off of the safe deposit job because of his checkered past. Frank is about to call Chief Dannon to complain when Mark suggests that Dannon's reputation might be in jeopardy:

I had such a high opinion of Dannon that such a thought had never entered my mind. It should have.

"And now somebody has complained about you to the DA. Chief Dannon basically hired you for this job, so that second complaint has put him on the hot seat just a little. Now that I've learned a little more about Vera's relationship to this town, I'm not certain she was overreacting by pushing you out the door. If I were you, I'd give the Chief a little room for a while."

I wasn't sure what Mark was suggesting, so I asked.

"You think I should drop the whole thing?"

"Oh, not at all. Somebody needs to figure out who that impostor was if your friend Susan is going to keep her job. We can do that, and steer clear of the bank, by continuing to ask questions about this thing out in Preston. We're just going to have to be careful about who we talk to, that's all."

"I noticed you included yourself in this little project."

"That's right. The firm up in Tallahassee is tying up some loose ends, so they asked me to stick around for a few more days. Besides, how am I going to keep you from antagonizing every lawyer in the state if I'm not standing right next to you?"

Page 69 touches on Frank's growing attachment to his adopted town, his natural impulse to help people in trouble, and the loyalty he gets from people like Mark. It's not a bad indication of what the book (and the series) is about.
Read an excerpt from Exile Trust, and learn more about the book and author at Vincent O'Neil's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue