Sunday, August 24, 2008


Lisa Black is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and has been certified by the American Board of Criminalistics.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Takeover, and reported the following:
I’m happy to report that page 69 of Takeover is, in my humble opinion, fairly representative of the rest of the book. The basic plot has been presented: forensic scientist Theresa MacLean starts out investigating the early-morning murder of a man who worked at the Federal Reserve in Cleveland (one of only 12 in the country). When her homicide detective fiancé goes to the Fed to find out more about the victim, two men break in to rob the place and take her fiancé hostage along with the other employees. Theresa sticks close to her fiance’s partner when the police set up a command center in the public library across the street and is dismayed to meet the crisis negotiator, a showy and possibly self-aggrandizing Chris Cavanaugh. Her fiancé’s life is depending on a man who just might care more about his own persona than the human lives he’s trying to save.

On page 69, we have all three of the major players in this book: Theresa, Chris, and the dominant criminal, Lucas. This is the first conversation between Chris and Lucas, with Theresa sitting nearby, biting her nails.

“It’s so nice to be talking with you today, Chris. My name is Lucas. I’m going to want some things, and I’ll need a yes or no from you. Can you do that, or should I be talking to someone else? I don’t intend to repeat myself.”

“I’m not trying to argue with you here, but all the conversation is going to go through me. That’s the way we do it. How’s everybody doing in there? Anyone hurt?”

“Let me tell you how I do it, Chris.” The man’s derision came over the speaker loud and clear, but with a slight wobble. He probably wasn’t as tough as he liked to sound, but Theresa knew enough about the psychology of criminals to know that that would not be a help. Any insecurities would only make him more desperate. “I talk to the guy in charge.”

“How are the people in there? Is anyone hurt?”

“They’re going to be if I don’t talk to the guy in charge.”

Theresa let her breath release from aching lungs. Sixty seconds in, and already they could not meet a demand, couldn’t produce the person in charge, and all because Chris Cavanaugh had acted prematurely in order to keep the limelight directly on himself.

Theresa is both right and wrong, it will turn out, in her assessment of Chris Cavanaugh. He definitely likes the limelight, yes, but he is also operating according to established protocols. In any hostage negotiation, the person responsible for making the ultimate decisions about the taker’s demands will not be the guy on the phone. There are a number of reasons—because the negotiator can’t afford to be distracted long enough to debate points with the other powers that be, or because, after hours of conversation, the negotiator might become sympathetic toward the taker and give in to their demands too easily. So every hostage negotiation team has a number of people—at a minimum, the negotiator, the decision-maker, the researcher (who runs around in the background checking out details and trying to get information, the scribe (who takes notes throughout the ordeal, especially of what the taker says or does), and the assault team leader.

I hope this page would make people want to keep reading, if only to find out who comes out on top of our three way heap—Lucas, Chris, or Theresa?
Learn more about Takeover and the author at Lisa Black's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue