Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Kings of Midnight"

Wallace Stroby is an award-winning journalist and the author of the novels Cold Shot to the Heart, Gone 'Til November, The Heartbreak Lounge, and The Barbed-Wire Kiss.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Kings of Midnight, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Kings of Midnight comes at a fairly quiet part in the narrative. Benny Roth, an old-school wiseguy, has come back to New York after many years in the Witness Protection Program, living in the Midwest under an assumed name. Benny found his life in danger in the aftermath of the (real-life) 1978 Lufthansa heist, in which six armed men walked out of the Lufthansa cargo terminal at JFK Airport with some $8 million in untraceable cash. In the months that followed the robbery – the largest ever on American soil at that time - most of those responsible were murdered, killed at the behest of their own gangland bosses, who reasoned it cheaper to kill them then pay them their shares.

When the last of those bosses dies, Benny returns to his old Brooklyn haunts, with a young girlfriend in tow and an idea where some of that long-gone money might be stashed. But another old-time mobster is after it as well, and Benny’s long-celebrated luck might finally be running out. Few of his old friends are around anymore. And those who are might just be gunning for him.

For Benny, Brooklyn is also a city of ghosts and painful memories. His bouts with alcohol and drug addiction cost him his family. His wife, Rachel, left him years before, and later died of cancer. His now-adult children have disowned him.

On page 69, Benny pays his first visit to the Queens cemetery where Rachel is buried. He brings yellow roses, her favorite, and, kneeling at her grave, he recalls the night when, still in the Program, he came home – drunk and stoned – to find his house empty and his family gone.
He’d come home late to a silent house, a note on the kitchen table. In a haze, he’d walked the empty rooms, looking for signs of them. Then he’d gone out and sat on the front steps in the cold, looked up at the starry sky over the cornfields, too numb to feel much of anything.
He leaves a stone on her grave, tucks the roses alongside the headstone, then heads back to his car.
Finally got the chance to say good-bye, honey, he thought. Sorry it took so long.
Benny drives off into an uncertain future, just as his own past is rounding on him with a vengeance.
Learn more about the book and author at Wallace Stroby's website and The Heartbreak Blog.

--Marshal Zeringue