Last year Black introduced a new series featuring Maggie Gardiner, a forensic expert who studies the dead, and Jack Renner, a homicide cop who stalks the living. Black applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Unpunished, the second book in the series, and reported the following:
In Unpunished, Cleveland forensic specialist Maggie Gardiner investigates a series of murders at the city’s newspaper, beginning with a copyeditor hung from the printing press’ roller tower. Maggie functions uncomfortably beside erstwhile serial killer Jack Renner. Jack kills to make the world a safer place, and Maggie can’t expose him without exposing herself. Provided they both focus on the same goal of protecting Herald employees from further homicides, they can continue their awkward truce without bloodshed.Learn more about the book and author at Lisa Black's website.
Page 69 opens Chapter 11, in which Jack and his partner Riley (who is unaware of Jack’s extracurricular activities…so far) are questioning a reporter from the paper who had argued vociferously and often with the dead copyeditor. The reporter, Roger Correa, has a passion for his job destined to exasperate co-workers, bosses and the two cops alike. He seems to feel that he, himself, functions as the last bastion of democracy and the First Amendment left in the country. His feelings, as he has explained, are not entirely unreasonable. Newspapers are indeed threatened by declining readership and lowered profits, as well as greedy shareholders and a society with an overwhelming amount of available distractions. But did he kill the copyeditor? He says no. There wouldn’t be much of a point--the paper would still go out, his stories would still be subject to someone trying to shorten them or burying them on page twelve, writing captions he doesn’t care for underneath his photos and announcing them with headlines that he wouldn’t have chosen. That’s what any copyeditor does. That’s their job, and it can be a pretty thankless one.
So while page 69 doesn’t tell us anything about Maggie, it does show us how Jack and Riley work well together. Riley has the patience to let a witness/suspect/informant drone on and on. He may look like a fireplug of a guy, but he knows that listening is the first and most important step to good police work. Jack does his best to keep it to himself, but he doesn’t have his partner’s patience.
Which is why he tends to provide his own, more violent solution to certain problems of law and order.
The Page 69 Test: That Darkness.
Writers Read: Lisa Black.
My Book, The Movie: Unpunished.