Thursday, February 22, 2007

"Homicide 69"

Sam Reaves is the author of nine novels, five as Sam Reaves and three as Dominic Martell. Homicide 69 is the most recent.

Sam applied the "page 69 test" to Homicide 69 and reported the following:
This is too good to be true, I thought. The “page 69 test” for a novel called Homicide 69? Perfect. Coincidence, of course, but a happy one.

The next thing I thought was that this puts a hell of a lot of pressure on a single page. In a 500-page novel it’s hard to make every one a polished gem. So I turned to page 69 of Homicide 69 to see how I did.

The reader will have to judge that. But I was pleased to see that at least one of the themes of the novel is on display here.

Background: The book takes place in the summer of 1969, whence the title. It is at least superficially a police procedural, though I hope readers will see that it’s more than that. The crime is an apparent sex killing, which upon further examination appears to be connected to intrigue at the heart of the Outfit, the crime syndicate which was still deeply rooted in Chicago politics in the late sixties. The man doing the further examining is a homicide detective named Michael Dooley.

Dooley is that allegedly rare species in the old, notoriously corrupt Chicago PD: an honest cop. The tension between Dooley’s awareness of his department’s failings and his dedication to catching killers is a major dramatic element in the novel.

On page 69, Dooley is questioning an associate of a gambler who has fled the country to escape Outfit debt collectors; he believes the gambler may be connected to the murder. The associate is being obtuse, and Dooley needs to focus the man’s attention:

Dooley could see he had a slow learner on his hands. “Look, Nick. You weren’t paying attention when I introduced myself, were you? I’m not a vice cop. I don’t give a damn about your gambling.”

The butcher looked at Dooley. “What are you then?”

“I’m a homicide cop. You know what that means?”

Starting to sound shocked, the butcher said, “Who got killed?”

Dooley has little use for the corruption-ridden Vice squad; for him the true mission of the police, the only one that justifies the toll the job takes on a man, is protecting people from predators, and the worst predator of all is the one who kills. That sense of mission makes him a lonely man sometimes, but it will sustain him through the tumultuous summer of 1969 with all its threats to him, his family and his integrity.
Read an excerpt from Homicide 69.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Series.