Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Prisoner of Memory"

Denise Hamilton writes the nationally best-selling Eve Diamond crime novels featuring a reporter who solves murders in contemporary multicultural Los Angeles.

In her latest book Prisoner of Memory, Hamilton plumbs her own family's Russian heritage to combine Cold War espionage and suspense.

She applied the Page 69 Test to the novel and reported the following:
Page 69:

as though it were the most natural thing in the world. “She was very beautiful.”

“No,” I said honestly. “My parents never spoke of her.”

Mischa was looking around with appreciation at my living room, especially the deep comfy couch.

“Don’t get too excited,” I said. “You are going to sleep on my back porch. Don’t worry, it’s enclosed. You can take a shower first if you want, and I’ll bring out a bunch of blankets. You won’t be cold or wet. But tomorrow I’m driving you to West Hollywood and you’ve got to fend for yourself.”

“No problem,” he hastily assured me. “Spaciba, Eve. Our great grandmothers would be pleased.”

“Oh stop.”

I felt rather ridiculous as I hauled extra blankets, quilts, and pillows and an old down sleeping bag out of my closet and dumped everything on the back porch. If he meant to do me harm, he didn’t have to wait until I was asleep.

But Mischa bustled around happily, arranging his winter’s lodging on my chaise longue with the diligence of an overgrown badger making a nest. Then he crawled inside the sleeping bag and began pulling blankets over himself.

It occurred to me now that that this odd cousin wasn’t the only one I had to worry about.

“Mischa, you said earlier that these Mafia people might have my phone number. They could easily find out where I live. Don’t you think they’ll come looking for you here eventually?”

Mischa’s head popped out of the down comforter.

“If that is happening, I am running away. I am not making problems for you, Eve Diamond.”

Your very existence is a problem for me.

“Well let me show you a back way out of this property. If anything happens, God forbid, you use it.”

This time, we donned slickers with hoods. He wriggled out of his casing and followed me down the back stairs into the double lot that my landlady cultivated like a wild and savage garden. The grass was knee high in spots and brushed against my bare shins in a clammy embrace. We....

I love the idea of a page 69 test and what you’ve done with it. In the case of Prisoner of Memory, I do think page 69 gives readers a good flavor of the book. Much of this page is in dialogue, some of it humorous, which is always fun to write and read. On this page, my reporter sleuth Eve Diamond is talking to a mysterious and dubious Russian “cousin” who has landed on her doorstep, claiming kinship and asking for help and a place to spend the night. The excerpt also includes a reference to the Russia Mafia, whose henchmen may be trying to track Eve down -- never a good thing. And page 69 of Prisoner of Memory also brings up something out of Eve’s past -- a Russian relative that Eve’s now-deceased parents never spoke about but who may end up being a clue to solving the book’s central mystery. “Your very existence is a problem for me,” Eve tells Mischa on page 69. How does all this come together in the novel? How do the strands play out? Is Mischa a bona-fide Russian cousin of Eve’s, a con-man trying to gain her confidence and financial help, an emissary from the Russian mob or something even more sinister and twisted? You’ll just have to read the book to find out!
Read an excerpt from Prisoner of Memory and learn more about Denise Hamilton and her books at her website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue