Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"The Axe Factor"

Born in London, Colin Cotterill has worked as teacher in Israel, Australia, the U.S. and Japan before he started training teachers in Thailand. Cotterill and his wife live in a small fishing village on the Gulf of Siam in Southern Thailand. He’s won the Dilys and a CWA Dagger, and has been a finalist for several other awards.

Cotterill applied the Page 69 Test to The Axe Factor, the third novel in the Jimm Juree series, and reported the following:
As always, my page 69 gives away most of the plot and leaves the reader with a question. The Axe Factor has a number of parallel threads one of which sees our Jimm hunting for a missing doctor who was last seen at a conference at the deserted Novotel. It highlights one of Jimm’s favourite methods of extracting information; the out-and-out lie - as she claims to be the doctor’s daughter. We also get a hint of how Jimm imagines herself to look, ever envious of those sweet, slim Thai beauties around her.

The Axe Factor is perhaps the grittiest Jimm Juree mystery and it boasts one very suspicious character who writes novels set in Laos, keeps dogs, lives on the beach, has a recently disappeared wife and a fine six-pack of abs. (That last part was added to divert the readers’ attention from his true identity.)

From page 69:
I’d passed the Novotel before on my way to the Ko Tao ferry. It was a vast place with its own nine-hole golf course, behind an ugly fence. Noisy road between it and the sea. No public transport into town. I’d always wondered why anyone would stay there. I parked in the car park and sought out administration. There was one person at the front desk, who told me the manager was away. It was mid-week. There were no guests. The words ‘money laundering’ passed through my mind. But the receptionist, Doy, was perfectly sweet. She was pretty and delicate as a hibiscus – the way I’d always appeared in my own dreams. When she found out I was enquiring about conference facilities, she wai’d me respectfully and asked how she could help. I suppose I could have told her I was an unemployed journalist looking for an old doctor I wasn’t particularly interested to find, but that wouldn’t have got me anywhere, would it now? So I leaned across the marble counter, took hold of her arm, and said,

‘Doy, I’m at my wit’s end. You’re my last hope.’

‘Me? Why?’ she said. ‘I mean, what can I do to help?’

‘My mother,’ I said. ‘She suffers from dementia. We can’t find her.’

‘Oh, my word.’

‘The last time anyone saw her was here at your hotel at a conference.’


‘It’s just … it would be really bad publicity for the hotel if she’s lying dead in a flower bed somewhere.’

‘Well, yes. Certainly. Do you know what conference it was?’

‘Child care.’

‘That was just this weekend.’


‘I … I should tell somebody.’

‘Thank you. And perhaps they’ll suggest you find the hotel reservations for a Dr Somluk Shinabut and the list of conference attendees.’

‘Yes. Yes. Good idea.’

She started to rifle through a drawer.

‘And perhaps you could put me in touch with someone from the hotel who attended the conference.’

She looked up.

‘We … we don’t.’

‘Don’t what?’
Learn more about the book and author at Colin Cotterill's website.

The Page 69 Test: Killed at the Whim of a Hat.

My Book, The Movie: Killed at the Whim of a Hat.

Writers Read: Colin Cotterill (August 2011).

--Marshal Zeringue