Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Cold Shot to the Heart"

Wallace Stroby is an award-winning journalist and a former editor at The Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey. His novels include the acclaimed Gone ’til November and the Barry Award finalist The Barbed-Wire Kiss.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Cold Shot to the Heart, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Cold Shot to the Heart actually turns out to be a key moment in the book. Crissa Stone, a career criminal and professional thief, is mulling over an upcoming job she’s been recruited for, the robbery of an illegal high-stakes poker game in a Fort Lauderdale hotel. She’s having a post-meeting huddle with another of the recruits, a fellow professional named Chance. Crissa is skeptical about the job, but needs money to grease the wheels of a parole board hearing for Wayne Boudreaux, her lover and mentor, imprisoned in Texas. Chance just needs money.

The two are sitting at a table in a dark corner of a hotel bar, drinks in front of them:
“You could bail on this if you wanted to,” Chance said. “I might not have that luxury.”

“What do you mean?”

“I need it.”

“That’s a bad way to go into something.”

“I know. But you don’t always get to choose.”

“You’re wrong,” she said. “You do.”

“It’s not like I’m desperate. It’s just that the last couple things fell apart before they happened. One goddamn thing or another. Bad luck. The kitty’s getting hungry.”


They sat in silence for a moment.

“Here’s what I think,” she said. “We go down there, take a look.”


“We get a feel for it. Check out the layout. If it looks good, we stay and do it. If not, we walk away.”

“That sounds right. When?”

“Soon,” she said. “There’s something else I need to do first.”
What she needs to do is visit Boudreaux in prison, outline the plan and get his blessing – or not. Either way, in this scene she’s moved from thought to action. She’s willing to take that next step, risk the exposure of traveling to Florida to case the job, look over the layout. She’ll carefully weigh the risk-to-reward factors. But it isn’t hard to guess that, cautious as she might be by nature, things aren’t going to work out the way she planned.
Learn more about the author and his novels at the official Wallace Stroby website and The Heartbreak Blog.

The Page 69 Test: Gone 'til November.

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

--Marshal Zeringue