He applied the Page 69 Test to his new thriller, Painted Skins, and reported the following:
In Painted Skins we find Tess Grey, now working as a private investigator in Portland, Maine, hired to find Jasmine “Jazz” Reed, who has gone missing. In her troubled youth, while living with various foster families, Jazz was guilty of frequently absconding, and most people have written off her disappearance as another case in point. But Tess and her partner, Nicolas “Po” Villere soon come to realise that there’s a troubling reason for Jazz’s disappearance, made obvious when it becomes apparent that other—dangerous—men are also hunting the girl, and sometimes coming into conflict with each other. Page 69 picks up after such a scene, where it has began to dawn on Po that extra help is needed to find Jazz before it’s too late.Visit Matt Hilton's website.With a Marlboro hanging out the corner of his mouth, Po had rested his hips against his Mustang a few minutes earlier, and took out his cellphone to ring Pinky Leclerc.It pleased me when I turned to page 69 of Painted Skins and found that instead of an action scene it was in fact an interaction between Nicolas ‘Po’ Villere and his old cellmate and best friend Pinky Leclerc, and is an ideal introduction to the characters, highlighting their differences but also their deep friendship for each other. It is a brief character study, and a good reintroduction to Pinky whom we first met in Blood Tracks, the previous book in the series. Pinky is a larger than life figure, he is both flamboyant and humorous, and also has a unique speech pattern he is sometimes guilty of playing up for effect. He is also loyal to Po to a fault, and by association to Tess too, and the first person Po would turn to in a pinch.
The recent incident with the mystery man burning the stolen car and his subsequent assault on John Trojak had got Po worried. He wasn’t normally a man to fret, but that was when he only had his own ass to worry about. Things were different now that he and Tess were a couple. She wouldn’t thank him for his overly protective thoughts, because she wasn’t one to require handholding and would remind him with a stiff reprimand if he ever treated her as the weaker sex. She was tough and brave, both qualities that had attracted him in the first place, but he wasn’t stupid. Strength and bravery didn’t amount to much when you were up against a stronger and more reckless enemy. He wished his earlier notion that he was the target of a hit was true, but the subsequent events had changed his mind, though he should check. The man had been seeking Tess, no doubt about it, and when she’d spotted him he’d reacted in an unexpected fashion. He’d fled, but at no point was he acting like a prey animal running for its life: he had responded more like an apex predator leading its quarry into a trap. Trojak was lucky to be alive. Another more pinpointed hit of the tyre iron and that would have been it.
‘Hey, Pinky,’ he said as his call was picked up.
‘Nicolas!’ Pinky Leclerc’s voice was high with emotion. ‘So you finally got round to calling me back, you!’
‘Been meaning to say hi,’ Po reassured his friend.
‘At least you didn’t wait a dozen years this time.’
‘It’s only been a coupla months!’ While recuperating from his encounter with the deranged knifeman Hector Suarez, Po and Tess had returned to Baton Rouge for a brief stopover on their trip to New Orleans, and had enjoyed Pinky’s hospitality. But since then, Po had been remiss in making contact. Thing was, unless he’d anything specific to say, Po wasn’t one for making small talk.
‘I hope pretty Tess has been an attentive nurse to you? I told you, you want me to come up there and play Florence Nightingale, I’ll be on the next flight, me.’
‘I’m good, Pinky. Tess too.’ Po flicked his cigarette in a drain.
The Page 69 Test: Judgment and Wrath.
My Book, The Movie: Judgment and Wrath.