Friday, August 17, 2012

"The Twenty-Year Death"

Ariel S. Winter is the author of the picture book One of a Kind (Aladdin) illustrated by David Hitch, the novel The Twenty-Year Death (Hard Case Crime), and the blog We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Twenty-Year Death, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Twenty-Year Death happens to contain a succinct synopsis of the book up until that point. The detective, Chief Inspector Pelleter, is reviewing his notebook. He reads aloud to the Verargent chief of police:
“This is what we know…Tuesday, April 4, just after eight pm: A man is found dead in the gutter by Monsieur BenoĆ®t outside of his house. At first it is believed that he drowned in rainwater while drunk, but it is later discovered that he had been stabbed several times and then had his clothing changed to hide the wounds.”
If you like murder mysteries, then reading page 69 is almost like reading the inside flap of the dust jacket, and you should be hooked. What you wouldn’t know, however, is that my novel is comprised of three interconnected novels, one set in 1931, one set in 1941, and one set in 1951, each with a different protagonist, and each written in the style of a different crime author: Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson. So page 69 is an intro to only the first novel.

Perhaps The Twenty-Year Death also calls for the Page 318 Test:
“‘I take it you can’t come to my office?’

‘I was hoping you would come here.’


‘They’ll expect you at the door,’ he said and he hung up.

Everyone wanted to keep me in this movie business. Everyone but the person who got me into it in the first place. I went through the routine with the lock and took the stairs so I wouldn’t have to wait for the automatic elevator.”
And the Page 532 Test:
“I took of my jacket, and I bent down to wipe up the spot of blood. I wouldn’t have even noticed it, it was so small. It had dried so I wet my finger with spit and then rubbed at the spot until it was gone and wiped my finger on my shirtsleeve near the cut.”
Now you’ve got two more intriguing mysteries. What movie business? And why is there blood on the floor? When you remember that this is in reference to Chandler and Thompson, you know that the answers to both of those questions are going to hardboiled action and a dark outlook.

Have I hooked you yet? All the pages are like this. Bodies, and dirt, and blood.
Learn more about the book and author at Ariel S. Winter's website.

--Marshal Zeringue