Stein applied the Page 69 Test to Brooklyn Secrets, the third Erica Donato Mystery, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Brooklyn Secrets surprised even me. Though Erica, my protagonist, doesn’t know it, and the reader won’t know it, there is a moment when the plot starts to turn in a new direction. Erica, a historian-in-training, has been interviewing two very old, very sharp – and sharp-tongued!– women who can tell her all about growing up in Brownsville, then ( and now) one of Brooklyn’s poorest neighborhoods. They both traveled a long road away, and found each other again in old age. Though they were childhood friends, their memories are surprisingly different, and their relationship is often touchy and combative.Visit Triss Stein's website.
In this scene we, and Erica, learn that Lillian is not just frail, she is dying. Erica knows Lillian has a secret, and stops herself before spilling it to Ruby. It is a sad, yet realistic moment, but one that will haunt the last part of the story. I will let Ruby speak for herself:
“She’s dying, you know.” Ruby looked past me, toward the other side of the cafeteria, but I knew she was seeing something else.
“It’s been a joy to have her here with me. We were so close, back when. I only had my big brother, who was horrid to me, and she had one big brother and baby sisters. So we became like each other’s sister. Then we lost track. She went to Douglass College in New Jersey and I was in New York and...” She shrugged. “Things happen and you lose people along the way.” She blinked hard, rapidly, for a minute. “And now I will lose her again, and soon.”
It was on the tip of my tongue to ask her about Lillian’s brother, if she could add or expand that story, or even tell me it was true. The words were right there, but I stopped myself just in time. It was Lillian’s story and her choice to talk to Ruby about it. Or not.
Instead, I cautiously asked, “Did you never connect after you went to college?”
“Of course we did. Weddings, reunions, all that. But it was never the same, and then over the years, there are husbands and children and moves. My second husband was a professor at Yale and Lil never married at all. She liked men, though. And they really liked her. She had a very, very good time in those days.”