Sunday, June 17, 2007

"The 50/50 Killer"

Steve Mosby is the author of three novels -- The Third Person, The Cutting Crew,and The 50/50 Killer -- and is now working full-time on a fourth.

He applied the "page 69 test" to The 50/50 Killer and reported the following:
The first thing I notice about page 69 of The 50/50 Killer is the structure of the book. Because the story takes place over twenty-four hours, I made a last draft decision to present it as sections of time rather than chapters.

At the top, there's the end of a period narrated by the main character, Mark Nelson. Mark's a young detective, who's joined a new team and been plunged into the hunt for the murderer of the title, who abducts couples and kills one of them, allowing them to choose who it will be. Mark knows he has until dawn the next day to save the new victims, and he's busy reading up on the previous victims and the profile in the case file:

'He was the Devil," Daniel Roseneil had said.

And of course he wasn't. There was no such thing. But nevertheless, everything in the profile read as guesswork. Tentative ideas that circled a black hole, afraid to touch.

Mark has just read the testimony from one of the survivors, Daniel Roseneil, who’s traumatised by the choice he made, and remembers the killer as the Devil. Partly it’s because he wears a demon mask – but there are hints throughout that it’s true. He’s meant to be an anonymous killer in a way: I always thought of him as just an extreme embodiment of the bad things that can intervene and ruin a relationship. It’s certainly not a ‘whodunnit’.

This page would originally have been a chapter break, but instead we then learn there’s just under fifteen hours until dawn, and meet the killer’s next targets, Jodie and Scott, who are being marched through the woods to a place he’s prepared for them:

The ground either sucked at her or else slid beneath her feet, but she moved as quickly as possible, keeping just behind Scott, her hands out to catch him in case he should slip.

Jodie’s doing her best to keep strong for both of them, and, despite the fear, is looking out for her boyfriend Scott, who’s cuffed and has a bag over his head, walking in front:

The bag seemed to have taken away his resolve and strength. He was subdued: a man stumbling to his own execution.

Unfortunately, as Mark would be able to tell them both, it’s not going to be that simple…
Read more about The 50/50 Killer at Mosby's website, The Left Room, and at his MySpace and CrimeSpace pages.

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

--Marshal Zeringue