She applied the Page 69 Test to Shroud of Evil, the eleventh in the Horton series, and reported the following:
From page 69:For more information about Pauline Rowson and her books, visit her website, Twitter perch, and the DI Andy Horton Marine Mystery Facebook page.‘That’s the tricky one. Actual time of death is probably as I said some time late Friday afternoon, early Saturday morning, but it could be earlier than that. The rate of internal haemorrhaging can depend on the age of the person and if there were any pre-existing medical problems. Very young and very old people would be at greater risk of dying quickly and as your victim was at neither end of the age spectrum and he was in very good health, it would have taken him longer to die. He could have been shot up to eighteen or twenty hours before he actually died.’The first I heard of the page 69 test was when a member of the public approached me in a bookshop where I was doing a book signing and said she always applied it when deciding which crime novel to purchase. She didn’t buy one of my novels so I’d obviously failed to reach her exacting standards, whatever they were. I thrust it from my mind, only to be reminded of it recently when asked to contribute to this blog. So I browsed the Internet to find out who was responsible for this particular form of literary torture. The answer was the writer Marshall McLuhan championed more recently by John Sutherland in How to Read a Novel: A User’s Guide. Do we really need instructions on how to read a novel?
And that put it back to late Thursday night or the early hours of Friday morning, matching more closely with the last sighting of Kenton by Eunice Swallows at the office.
They postponed talking shop as the taxi driver made for the Hovercraft terminal at Ryde. Horton let his mind roam across the facts of the case that he’d gathered so far but his thoughts kept getting hijacked by the proximity of the woman beside him and the way his body had reacted when she had come so close to him. He’d always found her attractive but not in a sexual way, or so he’d thought. The strength and method of his reaction had surprised him though. Perhaps it was his need for female company and not specifically Gaye Clayton that had made him respond so strongly. Had she been teasing him or had there really been something that had passed between them? If so she showed no signs of it as she sat beside him on the Hovercraft. He wondered what she was thinking.
They didn’t speak during the ten-minute crossing. The noise of the Hovercraft made it difficult for them to converse anyway and impossible to talk about the case as they’d have to raise their voices and the other passengers would hear them. Through the windows of the Hovercraft he caught the glimpse of the security lights of Fort Monckton as they sped past. His suspicion that Lord Eames was connected with MI5 made him again wonder if Jennifer had been meeting him there. Had she got too close to the truth about something he was connected with; something that was too dangerous to be revealed? And perhaps that was why Jasper Kenton was dead – because he, like Jennifer, had got too close to the truth about something highly damaging to His Lordship. But what? And why leave evidence on your own doorstep? No, if it was connected with Eames he’d have got rid of the body. There would have been no trail.
Anyway, as requested, I turned to Page 69 in the latest DI Andy Horton (no. 11), Shroud of Evil and duly applied the test. This is the scene between DI Andy Horton, my rugged and flawed detective, and the pathologist, the petite, auburn haired and feisty Dr Gaye Clayton when she is informing Horton that the victim was killed with a … no, hang on, that will spoil it for those who want to read the novel (if I’ve passed the test).
Horton is re-examining the time of death of Jasper Kenton, a private investigator, whose body has turned up on a beach belonging to Lord Richard Eames on the Isle of Wight wrapped in an old sail cloth, used as a shroud. Horton, estranged from his wife, is also examining his feelings for the pathologist, whom he’d never considered before as a possible lover. But he has more pressing concerns than that on his mind. He’s withheld vital information that could help crack the case because it is connected with the disappearance of his mother, Jennifer, just over thirty years ago, when he was ten. He fears that it is only a matter of time before his part in hindering a major investigation is exposed and that when it is it is certain to end his career.
Writers Read: Pauline Rowson.
My Book, The Movie: Shroud of Evil.