He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Fall of Moscow Station, and reported the following:
From page 69:Visit Mark Henshaw's website.He curled up on the ground in a twitching heap, groaning and gasping for air.I was very happy to find this scene fell on page 69. Here, Kyra (the hero of our tale) is confronting Alden Maines, a CIA defector on the rooftop of the Russian Embassy in Berlin. Maines has already given up one high-value CIA asset to the Russians to prove his bona fides, which resulted in a murder that set the entire story in motion. The twist is that Maines saved Kyra’s life a few years before and she’s taking his betrayal personally. She doesn’t like the idea that she owes her life to a traitor.
Kyra stepped back, far enough that he couldn’t grasp or kick her. “I’d tell the Bureau to add assault to your indictment, but it’s already a long list.” She squatted down so he could see her face. “I’ll tell Barron about your offer, but you’re not going to get your deal. And even if you do get to Moscow, CIA defectors have a bad habit of falling down long staircases after they’re not useful to their Russian friends anymore. So I wouldn’t plan on a peaceful retirement, back home or in Moscow.”
“Uh-uh,” Maines grunted. “Full . . . full pardon . . . and fifty . . . million.” He sucked in some air, then pushed himself up onto his hands and knees. Kyra didn’t move, ready to defend herself again. “I get that,” he wheezed, “I keep my mouth shut. I don’t . . . and I tell the Russians everything . . . take my chances.”
“If you want the president or anyone else to take your offer seriously, you need to give something up first.”
“The name of your handler,” Kyra told him.
“I don’t think . . . he’d like that,” Maines said, his chest rising and falling rapidly. The pain between his legs was fading enough to manage. He pushed himself back onto one knee. “If Barron gets me the deal, you stand out front of the embassy tomorrow at noon . . . wear a red jacket. If you’re there, I come out. If you’re not, I take care of myself.” He was catching his breath now, but his legs were still too shaky for him to stand.
“Either way, I’ll be seeing you pretty soon.” Kyra turned around and walked toward the door.
“I should’ve left you in that safe house,” Maines said, his voice still weak from the abuse she’d dealt to his crotch. “I see you again and I’ll kill you.”
Kyra made an obscene gesture without looking back.
The moment is pivotal for them both. It’s Maines’s last chance to show remorse and some shred of loyalty to the United States and he rejects it out-of-hand. Kyra decides that his mercenary attitude proves that her former friend is beyond redemption or deserves no mercy; she’d love to do more than just knee him in the groin, but the Russians are watching and will protect their prize. But Maines’s blackmail attempt forces the Russians’ hand in a way that both Maines and Kyra very quickly and painfully come to regret.