Thoft applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Brutality, and reported the following:
From page 69:Visit Ingrid Thoft's website.“You act like you don’t approve of my methods, but secretly, you think I’m a stellar investigator.”My protagonist, private investigator Fina Ludlow, is independent, brave and doesn’t like to rely on others, but Page 69 in Brutality, the third Fina Ludlow book, illustrates that no man (or woman) is an island. At the top of the page, the reader catches the tail end of a conversation between Fina and Detective Cristian Menendez, her sometimes “friend with benefits.” Fina and Cristian often find themselves at cross purposes when working a case, but there is a deep affection and respect between them that weathers their professional clashes.
“Whatever you need to tell yourself,” he said. “See ya.”
He waddled over to the edge of the rink and stepped onto the ice. Fina hightailed it to her car and sat for a moment letting the hot air blow over her, reassessing her earlier conclusion: Even a little bit of Cristian was worth freezing her ass off.
Fina decided to make a stop before heading home and pointed her car toward Newton. The MetroWest suburb was one of the wealthiest in the region, but it also had its share of ranch houses and Cape Cods. Fifty-six Wellspring Street was one of those ranch houses, with a tidy yard and flagpole by the door that always held a season-appropriate flag. Fina pulled over in front of the house and swore at the sight that greeted her.
Once she was out of her car, she hollered at the man in the driveway. “What are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing?” Frank Gillis responded.
“It looks like you’re trying to have a heart attack!” Fina went over and took the shovel out of his hand. “First of all, you’re not supposed to be shoveling. Second of all, I don’t even understand what you’re shoveling. This is all going to melt in a day or two.”
“There was a little patch of ice, and I didn’t want the mail carrier to slip.”
“Stop worrying about everyone else.” Fina gently nudged him toward the front door, where she leaned the shovel against the house. “If Peg sees you doing this, she’ll kill you.”
Frank Gillis was the former Ludlow and Associates investigator who’d taught Fina everything she knew—except for the illegal stuff, which she’d learned on her own. Frank was her professional mentor, and he and his wife, Peg, were her second family. They filled the hole in her life created by Carl and Elaine’s lack of parenting skills.
After leaving the municipal ice rink where Fina tries to pry information from Cristian, she heads to the home of Frank Gillis, the private investigator who serves as both professional mentor and father figure. Fina’s exasperation with Frank is indicative of her love for him. She prides herself on her resiliency, but knows that if anything were to happen to Frank, her world would be shattered. At the heart of the Fina Ludlow series is a woman in command of her own life, but who has intense connections with a chosen few, including Cristian and Frank. Fina often wrestles with her desire to blaze her own path and her need for meaningful human connections. It’s this juggling act that makes her cases fraught with all kinds of hazards.