Sunday, July 20, 2008

"Mad About The Boy?"

Dolores Gordon-Smith is the author of A Fete Worse than Death, the first in the Jack Haldean mystery series.

She applied the Page 69 Test to the sequel, Mad About The Boy?, and reported the following:
Page 69? That’s an interesting one. Does it say, “The murderer was arrghhhh!!! And the telephone went dead or…” Well, no, it doesn’t, actually.

Page 69 of Mad About The Boy? sees us well into the action. At the Silver Wedding Ball on what should have been an idyllic evening in Sussex in 1923, one of the guests apparently commits suicide, which made the party go a bit flat. It’s the afternoon after and Jack Haldean, the hero, is feeling a bit chewed-up. He heads for a bit of peace and quiet to one of his special places, the willow by river, where the willow leaves form a leafy tent where he can be alone and have a chance to put his thoughts in order.

A flash of blue in the spotted, rippling shade brought a stab of unexpected delight as he realised it was a kingfisher. Halcyon days. That’s what the Greeks called the time when the kingfisher flew. Halcyon? He smiled cynically and yawned. Being so damn tired didn’t help. He hadn’t been able to sleep last night.

The kingfisher flew unheeded, the languid drone of insects washed over his senses and the well-behaved river flowed placidly on. The pipe fell from his hand and he slumped, fast asleep.

When Jack wakes up, he hears voices on the other side of the willow leaves. One of the guests, a complete slimeball called Lord Lyvenden, is dallying with his mistress, Mrs Strachan.

Haldean drew back against the ridged bark of the tree. Bloody hell! If Lord Lyvenden absolutely had to carry out a senile intrigue, why on earth did he have to do it here? The worst of it was, he was completely stuck until Lyvenden decided to move.

“Now, now, Victor,” giggled Mrs Strachan with ghastly coquettishness, slapping Lyvenden playfully. “Don’t be greedy.”

Haldean dug his hands into the soft earth in frustration. Their voices on the other side of the curtain of willow were only too clear. If he tried to escape up the bank they’d be bound to see him.

“I’m always greedy for you, little woman,” said Lord Lyvenden with elephantine playfulness.

What Jack hears next sends his thoughts in the right direction – or so it at first appears.
Learn more about the book and author at Dolores Gordon-Smith's website and her blog.

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

--Marshal Zeringue