Monday, July 9, 2007


Thomas Perry is the author of the Jane Whitefield series as well as the bestselling novels Nightlife, Death Benefits, and Pursuit, the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for Best Novel. He won an Edgar Award for The Butcher’s Boy, and Metzger’s Dog was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

He applied the "page 69 test" to his new novel Silence and reported the following:
The page 69 test is a fair one, because it's arbitrary. Understanding page 69 of Silence requires some background. Jack Till, a former Los Angeles cop turned P.I. helped a restaurant owner named Wendy Harper to vanish after she was almost-fatally attacked by an unknown assailant.

Now, six years later, Till has learned that Wendy's former fiance and business partner, Eric Fuller, has been charged with her murder. Evidence found in and around Eric's house indicates he's guilty. But Till knows that the people who were after Wendy must have planted the evidence to lure her out of hiding. Till must find Wendy and get her to make one appearance to prove she's alive. Then he has to keep her that way.

On p. 69, Till is in Santa Barbara, the city where he left her on an August day six years ago. He's used a connection in the local police department to obtain airline passenger lists for that day. He knows she flew out under a false name, but not what the name was. He taught her to use low-tech i.d. -- birth and marriage certificates -- as a foundation for her identity, starting by changing her surname in a marriage, then erasing her first name, keeping her middle name. What we see on page 69 is Till as he eliminates the last few women passengers from that day. He realizes that Wendy flew to Las Vegas as Ann Delatorre, and still has a phone registered in that name. The final line on the page: "He felt pride in Wendy Harper. She had done well."

The scene isn't like many other scenes in the book, which are full of action or conversation, but it is representative of Till's way of thinking as he traces her movements. It also presents a hint of the ambiguous relationship he had -- and will have -- with Wendy.

As for whether a reader who opened the book to this page would decide to read the book, I'm not sure. I would hope it's good enough to make him want to read a few more pages.
Read more about Silence, including an excerpt, at the publisher's webpage.

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

--Marshal Zeringue