Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Too Many Clients"

David J. Walker's books include the Wild Onion series.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Too Many Clients, the latest mystery in the series, and reported the following:
I was a Catholic priest once, and somehow priests turn up in my novels now and then, whether I’ve invited them in or not. Take my new book, Too Many Clients. My tenth mystery, it stars private eye Kirsten and her lawyer husband Dugan. Things seem simple enough. A cop named O’Hern is murdered, the police view Dugan as the prime suspect, and it’s up to Kirsten to find the real killer. Before long, though, she has not one, but three, clients. Definitely too many. She finds lots of suspects, too: crooked real estate developers, mob guys, bad cops, even the victim’s family members.

But turn to page 69 of the book and you find Kirsten in a huge church during evening choir practice, interviewing…of all people…a priest. Don’t blame me. I just write the stuff down. The priest is the one who poked his nose in, offering to help, wanting to do the right thing. Now, though, he’s not so sure. Here’s how page 69 starts:
‘Two murders,’ she said. ‘A police officer and a priest. A year apart. And they’re connected?’

Several long seconds passed, filled only with the choir’s repetitive practice, and then the priest held his hands out in front of him... He clenched them into fists, then opened them again, several times…as if doing exercises. ‘I ought to have given it more thought,’ he said…‘Making that call was a mistake.’
Having her own husband for a client might be a mistake, too, but Kirsten won’t trust Dugan’s freedom, or his life, to anyone else. She presses the priest to tell what he knows.
‘What I mean is I don’t know very much, and the little I do know I can’t talk about. People could be hurt…I mean lots of people.’

‘Still, you called. And you left that message.’
The cops are clearly under pressure from somewhere…is it the feds? get the O’Hern case closed. And Dugan’s so handy. Should Kirsten waste time on a year-old murder?
‘No, you did the right thing. And anyway, there’s no going back. So what’s the connection between Johnny O’Hern’s murder and the murder of Father Landrew?’

‘I said I think there might be a connection. I don’t know for sure. Dear God, I don’t know what I know for sure.’ He rested one arm on the back of the pew and leaned toward her. ‘OK, here’s why I called you. …I had this sudden idea that maybe I could help, by steering you in a certain direction.’ He stopped. ‘I suppose I’m not making much sense.’

‘You’ll get there, though. Keep going.’ She smiled encouragingly. As a cop she’d learned that it took time for frightened people to spill things they’d held in for a long time. ‘I’m a fast learner.’
Yes, everything has to be looked at. And yes, there might be some connection between the cop’s murder and the priest’s murder, and between the priest’s murder and a possible CIA agent, and between the possible agent and the dead cop’s family, and between the dead cop’s family and whoever shot the cop dead. But then again…maybe not so much.

So what’s on page 69? Only a dogged, fast-learning, ex-cop, female private eye, faced with the archetypal private eye problem…a witness who won’t talk about what he knows.
Read an excerpt from Too Many Clients, and learn more about the book and author at David J. Walker's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue