Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Double Black"

Wendy Clinch is the founder of, the premier internet community for women skiers.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Double Black: A Ski Diva Mystery, and reported the following:
As you’d expect, Double Black contains a fair amount of skiing. And that’s what you see, when you open to Page 69.

But there’s a lot more to the book than just sliding down the slopes. Double Black features Stacey Curtis, a young woman who ditches her cheating fiance and heads for a Vermont ski town to live the life of a ski bum. Instead, she stumbles upon bitter family warfare, financial intrigue, a hunky ski patroller, and yes, a dead body. More specifically, a dead body in a bed, strangled with the oily chain from a chainsaw.

The victim is David Paxton, son of Andy Paxton, patriarch of the family who owns the local ski area. Andy’s been considering selling the mountain to a large conglomerate who wants to turn it from a small family operation into a real estate venture. And though David was set against the deal, Andy’s other son, Richie, is more than a little interested. Did he kill his brother and if so, was this the motivation? Or did someone else do it for a different reason entirely? Double Black follows Stacey Curtis through a ski slalom’s worth of plot twists as she tries to figure it out.

Page 69 marks the beginning of Chapter 11. Andy is heading out for a little night skiing with Chip Walsh, friend and Spruce Peak ski patroller. Here, he discusses his feelings about selling the mountain and the changes he’s seen over the years. The chapter alternates between Andy’s reflections and Stacey’s frantic search for a ring she may have lost at the crime scene, which could mark her as a suspect in David’s murder.

Page 69:
Andy Paxton and Chip Walsh, on top of the world.

Even in the late evening and under a black sky as clear as glass, there was a steady wind up there. There always was. It bit their cheeks raw as they stood stripping the skins from their skis and folding them into their backpacks. The two of them worked in silence and by moonlight, in a bright open patch of snow near the top of the main lift. Once the skis were ready they took off their headlamps and put on goggles with clear lenses and put on the headlamps again. Thirty yards downhill the Peak Lodge stood empty and dark, just an angular blot against the whiteness of the moonlit snow.

Andy sighed. “I guess the day’s going to come when I won’t be doing this anymore.”

Thirsty from the long climb, Chip took a bottle of water from his pack and drank off half of it. “It’ll be a while, I think.” He supposed that Andy was lamenting his advancing age. “And if I can keep at it even half as long as you have, I’ll think I’ve done all right.”

“I’m talking about trespassing on my own mountain, sonny. One day I’ll be trespassing on somebody else’s.”
Read an excerpt from Double Black, and learn more about the book and author at Wendy Clinch's website and blog.

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

--Marshal Zeringue