Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Almost Graceland"

Steve Carlson has been a working actor and screenwriter for more than thirty years. In his varied career, he has been a series regular on General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, and Showtime’s A New Day in Eden. He has also guest-starred in hundreds of hours of television and starred or costarred in ten feature films. He has written feature films, television episodes, and books on working in acting.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his debut novel Almost Graceland, and reported the following:
Well, how can any author, when hearing about the page 69 test, not, at least, take a look and see what page 69 reveals in their novel? Mine actually made me laugh when I turned to it.

Elvis Presley was born a twin, but his twin was still-born. My book looks at what could have happened had he lived. My main character, Ray Johnston, was having a pretty rough go at life. The only unique thing about him was that hardly a day would go by without someone saying how much he looked like Elvis. He got pretty tired of it.

About this time in the book, the possibility that there may be a very plausible reason for those Elvis ‘look-alike’ looks are just starting to come to light. His life at the moment, however, was still in the toilet.

The name of my book is Almost Graceland and the first moment in the book that spawned the name … is on page 69. Here it is:

Early afternoon that same day, Ray was straightening up his trailer when he saw Sheree drive up in front. He went out to meet her. “Hey, babe. What’s up?” he asked, not used to seeing her there in the middle of the day.

“Just have a little surprise.” She kissed him ‘hello’ and led him to
the trunk of her car. “I got excited and couldn’t wait.”

She opened her trunk and motioned for Ray to look in. He did … then
looked back to Sheree questioningly.

“I got them at a garage sale yesterday,” she said proudly lifting out
one of a pair of two foot tall porcelain lions with one paw raised. “Aren’t they neat?”

“Well, yeah … but why?” Ray wondered.

“Why? For many reasons,” Sheree began, admiring the lions. “The
lion is the king of beasts and since you are my very own personal king, you should have them. Also, as you’ve told me many times, this is your castle. Your very own personal Graceland… almost. “And this…” she said, indicating the dirt road leading to the trailer, “This is the very fashionable drive over your ‘grounds’ to your castle. Elvis has lions at his Graceland, you should have them for yours. Actually, they should be on top of the pillars by your gates, but since they haven’t quite gotten built yet, I’ll just put them by the turn-off.”

“Aren’t they going to look a little strange out there?”

“They might look a little silly which is exactly what you need, my friend, a little whimsy.”


“Yeah, every time you look at them you’ll think of having fun.

… and it goes on from there. The two men do meet and the uneasy relationship that grows from that is interesting, many highs, many lows. Dealing with the most famous man on the planet did present its challenges.
Learn more about the novel and author at Steve Carlson's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Katherine Howell's first book, Frantic, was released by Pan Macmillan in May 2007 in Australia, and will be published in 2008/09 in France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the UK. Her second book, The Darkest Hour, is scheduled for release in Australia in 2008.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Frantic and reported the following:
Paramedic Sophie Phillips has had a tough time lately. The struggle to juggle fulltime work with home life as mother to ten-month-old Lachlan and wife to police officer Chris is difficult enough, but Chris has become moody and argumentative since being assaulted two months ago. Add in the events of the other day when Sophie lost a mother and baby in an emergency delivery gone horribly wrong, and was then stalked and threatened by the bereaved husband and father, and it’s no wonder she’s stressed.

Now she and colleague Mick are on nightshift, at a drug overdose death in a park in central Sydney, expecting a long wait before police arrive to take over the case. She’s tired and unhappy and just wants the night to be over.

‘Wow. This is what I call service,’ Mick said.

Sophie turned to see two police cars crossing the dark lawns, their beacons going. ‘Why two? And why the lights?’

Mick’s mobile rang. ‘Mick Schultz,’ he answered. ‘Yes ... God, really? Are you sure? ... Of course. Yes, they’re here now. Okay, yes.’ He hung up.

Sophie’s stomach lurched at the look on his face. ‘What is it?’

Mick took a moment to clip his phone on his belt. The police cars drew closer. Their lights threw alternating red and blue beams across Mick’s pale face.

‘Mick?’ Sophie said.

‘You should prepare yourself.’

Sophie thought she’d never heard such a stupid statement from him. ‘What are you—’

‘It’s Chris. He’s been shot.’

‘That’s not funny.’

‘Sophie, I wish I was joking.’

The police cars pulled up beside them. The whole world was now blue and red. Sophie stared at Mick then heard the car doors open. ‘Mrs Phillips?’

She turned to face them. The looks on their faces told her it was true. Her mind teemed with questions – where, how, why – but two stood out. ‘Is Chris alive? Is Lachlan okay?’

A sergeant came closer. It was Hugh Green from Wynyard. He took her hand. His palm was clammy. ‘Chris is alive. He’s in Royal North Shore.’

She waited but he didn’t say any more. ‘Is he okay? Is he conscious?’

Hugh’s gaze was steady but he hesitated before lowering and softening his voice. ‘He was shot in the head.’

Sophie couldn’t breathe. ‘Is — is Lachlan hurt?’

Hugh’s hand tightened on hers. ‘We can’t find him.’

This scene really is the turning point in the book, as it both kicks off Sophie’s desperate search for her child and signals the delivery of the longed-for big case to Detective Ella Marconi. Of course, there’s that old saying about being careful what you wish for....
Read an excerpt from Frantic and learn more about Katherine Howell and her writing at her website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Recovery Man"

Kristine Kathryn Rusch is an award-winning mystery, romance, science fiction, and fantasy writer. She has written many novels under various names, including Kristine Grayson for romance, and Kris Nelscott for mystery. Her novels have made the bestseller lists and have been published in 14 countries and 13 different languages.

applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel Recovery Man, the sixth volume in the "The Retrieval Artist" series, and reported the following:
I think the p. 69 test works. It is representative of the novel with a big however. It’s in the middle of an already convoluted plot, so it does sort of float out there without references.

The point of view character in this section is 13-year-old Talia Shindo. Her mother, Rhonda, has just been kidnapped. Talia was left behind, unwanted, by the kidnapper. Talia’s mother had told her if there was ever any problem, to contact an attorney named Martin Oberholst in Armstrong, on Earth’s moon — which is a strange request, considering Rhonda & Talia live on Callisto, one of the moons of Jupiter.

This section shows the beginning of the conversation.

The Retrieval Artist, Miles Flint, doesn’t show up in this section. But it is his book as well and there are even hints of that in here.

Why the section is representative is that it brings in several plot threads, as well as Talia who is my favorite character in this book. Her voice is pretty strong here. She’s in a terrible crisis which she’s trying to solve herself, without knowing why everything is happening to her. It’s one of the threads of the book — the importance and drawbacks of secrets — and it’s on display here.

Page 69:

Besides, how could Mom have killed people in that wind-swept field? She never went anywhere. Until she came to Callisto, she’d never even been off Earth’s moon.

Unless that was a lie too.

Finally, a voice reached her. It was distant and thin, and it came after some text that warned her someone was going to contact her.

The voice said, “This is Celestine Gonzalez.”

By now, Talia was so annoyed, she almost said, Good for you. But she didn’t. Mom wouldn’t have liked it, and right now, she was doing what Mom told her.

“I wanted Martin Oberholst.” Talia knew she sounded petulant, but she didn’t care. This was an emergency. She’d told them that, and they hadn’t listened.

“Yes, I know, Miss Flint,” Celestine Gonzalez said after a slight delay. “But Mr. Oberholst no longer handles cases.”

“This isn’t a case,” Talia said. “This is my life. My mother’s been kidnapped.”

And my name isn’t Flint, but she didn’t say that either. No sense in confusing the matters any more than they already were.

“That’s what it says here,” Gonzalez said. “When did this happen?”

“I don’t know,” Talia said. “An hour or two ago. Mom told me to contact Mr. Oberholst if anything happened.”

“Our records show that you are contacting me from Callisto. Can’t you contact an attorney there?”

“Can I talk to someone who knows what’s going on?” Talia didn’t scream, but she came close. “Mom told me to call you people if anything happened to her. She said you’d take care of me.”

“Even though we’re on Armstrong?”

Visit Kristine Kathryn Rusch's website to learn more about Recovery Man and her other books and stories.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Kenneth Burke on Shakespeare"

Scott Newstok is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Rhodes College and editor of Kenneth Burke on Shakespeare, an annotated volume of "all of the Shakespeare criticism, including previously unpublished lectures and notes, by the maverick American intellectual Kenneth Burke."

Newstok applied the Page 69 Test to the book and reported the following:
Kenneth Burke (1897–1993) meditated at length on the need for selecting a “representative anecdote” when creating any kind of critical vocabulary. Per the guidelines of the page 69 test, is the following passage ‘representative’ of his criticism? I’m the editor, rather than the author, of this book by a brilliant, idiosyncratic American thinker — one whose writings influenced later Shakespeare critics such as Northrop Frye, Harold Bloom, and Stephen Greenblatt. So I’m understandably reluctant to speak for him — although Burke himself made some ingenious ventriloquisms of characters in his Shakespeare criticism. In fact, page 69 of Kenneth Burke on Shakespeare derives from his landmark 1951 essay on Othello, a piece that was first drafted in the voice of Iago (fascinating 1930s versions are to be found at the Burke Papers at Penn State University). While he subsequently abandoned this approach, there are traces of it still present on this page. (Kenneth Gross, no stranger to such projective voicing himself, suggests that Auden’s “Caliban to the Audience” was perhaps inspired in part by Burke’s earlier example of speaking through Marc Antony in “Antony in Behalf of the Play.”) We find Burke here attempting to read roles in the play not as novelistic characters (contra A. C. Bradley — perhaps unfairly identified with this supposed Victorian impulse), but rather as positions, strained against one another; or as clusters, or even as functions. We also see Burke’s ‘socio-anagogic’ impulse, a desire to read Shakespeare as ingeniously absorbing contemporary social tensions and translating them, by analogy, into dramatic tensions. Finally, there is an emphasis on scapegoating, which René Girard would later admire (and borrow) from Burke.

So, yes, there is much that is characteristically Burkean here — an anticipatory “whispering,” perhaps. Just take care not to term this a “psychoanalytic approach,” a later critic's reductive evaluation that purportedly made Burke weep.

From Page 69:

In sum, Desdemona, Othello, and Iago are all partners of a single conspiracy. There were the Enclosure Acts, whereby the common lands were made private; here is the analogue, in the realm of human affinity, an act of spiritual enclosure. And might the final choking be also the ritually displaced effort to close a thoroughfare, as our hero fears lest this virgin soil that he had opened up become a settlement? Love, universal love, having been made private, must henceforth be shared vicariously, as all weep for Othello’s loss, which is, roundabout, their own. And Iago is a function of the following embarrassment: Once such privacy has been made the norm, its denial can be but promiscuity. Hence, his ruttish imagery, in which he signalizes one aspect of a total fascination.

So there is a whispering. There is something vaguely feared and hated. In itself it is hard to locate, being woven into the very nature of “consciousness”; but by the artifice of Iago it is made local. The tinge of malice vaguely diffused through the texture of events and relationships can here be condensed into a single principle, a devil, giving the audience as it were flesh to sink their claw-thoughts in. Where there is a gloom hanging over, a destiny, each man would conceive of the obstacle in terms of the instruments he already has for removing obstacles, so that a soldier would shoot the danger, a butcher thinks it could be chopped, and a merchant hopes to get rid of it by trading. But in Iago the menace is generalized. (As were you to see man-made law as destiny, and see destiny as a hag, cackling over a brew, causing you by a spell to wither.)

In sum, we have noted two major cathartic functions in Iago: (1) as regards the tension centering particularly in sexual love as property and ennoblement (monogamistic love), since in reviling Iago the audience can forget that his transgressions are theirs; (2) as regards the need of finding a viable localization for uneasiness (Angst) in general, whether shaped by superhuman forces or by human forces interpreted as super-human (the scapegoat here being but a highly generalized form of the overinvestment that men may make in specialization). Ideally, in child- hood, hating and tearing-at are one; in a directness and simplicity of hatred there may be a ritual cure for the bewilderments of complexity; and Iago may thus serve to give a feeling of integrity.

These functions merge into another, purely technical. For had Iago been one bit less rotten and unsleeping in his proddings, how could this play have been kept going, and at such a pitch? Until very near the end, when things can seem to move “of themselves” as the author need but actualize the potentialities already massed, Iago has goaded (tortured) the plot forward step by step, for the audience’s villainous entertainment and filthy purgation.
Learn more about Kenneth Burke on Shakespeare at the publisher's website, and visit editor Scott Newstok's faculty webpage.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"The Snake Stone"

Jason Goodwin is the author of Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire, among other award-winning nonfiction. The Janissary Tree, his first novel and the first in a series featuring Yashim, was published in May 2006 to international acclaim.

He applied the Page 69 Test to the second Yashim novel, The Snake Stone, and reported the following:
Set in 1830s Istanbul, The Snake Stone is the second outing for my Ottoman investigator, Yashim, following The Janissary Tree, which won the Edgar Award for Best Mystery 2007.

My own fascination with Istanbul began when I walked 2000 miles across Eastern Europe to reach it in 1990. Later, inspired by that experience and driven by my own ignorance, I sat down and wrote a book called Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire. The Yashim mysteries naturally draw on my research, but they aren't history books with a mystery twist: they're thrillers through and through. The 1830s happens to be an era of tension, between those who would drag the Ottoman empire into the modern world, and traditionalists who look to the glory days of the past. It's a fertile time for murder and suspense.

Presiding over the narrow waters of the Bosphorus which link the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, Istanbul stands at the turnstile of the continents, with Asia on one side, Europe on the other. Not surprisingly, it has a fabulous heritage of good cooking – so, among his other attributes, Yashim is great cook.

He's also a eunuch.

Page 69? It's quiet time, a conversation with the French ambassador. A page earlier, and we're with Maximilien Lefèvre, a French archaeologist who has called on Yashim to help him get out of the city. As Yashim explains to the ambassador: 'I saw him off on a caique from Fener the night before last. I assumed he had left Istanbul.'

Only Lefèvre is now a corpse.

A page later, we realise that Yashim himself is the chief suspect.

The Snake Stone delves into the city's Byzantine past to reveal a shocking secret and a murderous betrayal.

You can find out more about the books – and Istanbul – at my website.
Read an excerpt from The Snake Stone.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Precious Blood"

Jonathan Hayes is an English freelance writer living in New York City, a career forensic pathologist, a Senior Medical Examiner in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manhattan, and a clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his debut novel Precious Blood, and reported the following:
Page 69, Precious Blood:

scale were illegible. Jenner suspected the Pittsburgh team had better images.

He skipped through the opening sequence of front door (no force marks), unremarkable living room perspective, unremarkable stairway perspective, unremarkable dining room perspective, tabbing quickly through the images until he reached the kitchen door.

With the door shut, there was little hint of the carnage within – no wonder that responding officer had almost called it in as nothing. There was a small spot of blood at knee level on the kitchen door, but there was no blood on the frame, nor on the paneling on the side of the stairway nor on the wall or the big plate cabinet on either side of the hallway. He flicked back to the shot of the inside of the front door, also clean. Then forward into the kitchen.

Her body was naked, belly down, arms splayed, legs half-crossed. There was an arc of blood spatter low on the counter cabinet near the trunk, and the upper torso lay in a large puddle of maroon to brown blood that spread across the floor. There were thinner smears around the floor, ugly little skids in dry brown clot.

In the closer shots, the backs of her legs were clean, with some smeared blood on the posterior torso, probably from when he’d undressed her. It was likely that he’d killed her in that position, been on her back as he cut her throat from behind, like sacrificing an animal, arterial blood spurting sideways from the left carotid, bleeding out forward onto the floor underneath her.

He would have stayed behind her to sever the head, lifting her up and back with his palm under her chin as he worked on separating it.

Jenner could see no ligature marks on legs or arms.

He moved forward in the sequence. There was a surprising amount of blood on the walls, not large droplets but fine spatter, almost mist. Dowling had said he’d cut her up: there must be injuries on the front of the body. A ceiling shot showed some more of the blood mist on the low pendant lampshade, actually inside the shade.

And then the head, on the island in a coagulating lake of yellow/cream milk,

So, yeah, well… yikes! I don't think Precious Blood is particularly gory, but I'd agree that page 69 is pretty hardcore. In this scene, Jenner is examining a CD-ROM of crime scene photographs from a murder in rural Pennsylvania that he suspects is connected to the serial killer he's hunting in New York City.

Like me, Jenner is a forensic pathologist, and here he's doing something I've done many times. When you look at crime scene photos, you build a model of the death scene in your head, furnish it with bullet impact marks, decorate it with blood spatter, then figure out how the bodies must have moved to create this mark and that stain. At first, it's hard to know what you're really looking at; you start with an overview, then gradually refine it, noting the relative position of the body and the blood spatter, the color and thickness of the blood clot, etcetera – you try to get a sense of the forest before focusing on how they cut down the tree. Page 69 is a solid description of the way a forensic scientist thinks as he examines a death scene.

In Precious Blood, I've tried to show what it's like to do the work I do. One thing I wanted to express was something I see frequently: the unexpected, explosive punctuation of everyday life by intense violence. One night, back in the early 80's when I was a medical student in London, I was coming home from a Buzzcocks concert on one of the last trains of the night, filled with the usual riot of beery post-show types. There was a female punk holding a half-full beer mug, slouching against the partition by the doors. She looked up, saw a young student-y fellow looking at her, and said, "What you lookin' at?" Flustered, he started to stammer something. The train was pulling into the station; as the doors began to open, she smashed her mug against the partition, slashed his face, then ran. He reeled backward, hands pressed to his face as the blood poured between his fingers. I think of that moment often – him, her, how everything went wrong in under five seconds. In Precious Blood, violence suddenly slams into people, just like in real life.
Read an excerpt from Precious Blood -- or listen to an excerpt -- and learn more about Jonathan Hayes and his work at his website and the Precious Blog.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 19, 2007

"The Story of French"

Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow's work has appeared in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the International Herald Tribune and the French Canadian public affairs magazine L’actualité. Their books include Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong and The Story of French.

They applied the Page 69 Test to the latter title and reported the following:
The Story of French is a popular history of the French language told from the perspective of the entire French-speaking world, and not just France. In it, we tried to explore – and debunk – the many myths about French. The thing we discovered when we were doing our research was that everybody has an opinion about French – they either think it’s a beautiful language and are dedicated to it, or they think it’s a dying language and feel it should give up its pretense of grandeur. In the book, we explain where both these perceptions come from, while we cover the history and evolution of the language “from Charlemagne to the Cirque du Soleil.”

Curiously, the first thing that comes to mind when people think of French is often the French Academy, that crazy, archaic, some would say obsolete group of old men (actually, there have been a few women members) who have been trying to “control” French for centuries. Well, I was a little surprised to see that page 69 is the beginning of our discussion of the French Academy.

This is pretty representative of the rest of the book. The Story of French is more about geopolitics than about linguistics, and here we give the little-known, behind-the-scenes story of the Academy’s formation, which had more to do with political power than language.

“The Academy started out as one of dozens of informal literary clubs in Paris in the early seventeenth century…”

In 1634, France’s prime minister, the infamous Cardinal Richelieu, decided to take it over and give it a sort of monopoly in the hopes of wiping out the other clubs, which were posing a threat to the King’s power. Hence it became “the” Academy. As you can read in the pages preceding page 69, the whole idea of making French “pure” came before the French Academy. The King just sort of cashed in on the movement to consolidate his power.
Read an excerpt from The Story of French and learn more about the authors and their writing at their official website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Dead of the Day"

Annie Seymour, a crime reporter in New Haven, Connecticut, is the protagonist of three novels by Karen E. Olson: Sacred Cows, Secondhand Smoke, and the recently published Dead of the Day.

Olson applied the Page 69 Test to the new novel and reported the following:
On Page 69 of Dead of the Day, Annie Seymour is in her childhood bedroom at her mother’s house with her former beau, Detective Tom Behr. They are there because the house has been broken into and her mother is out of the country on vacation.

Tom bit his lip, trying not to laugh, as his eyes scanned the room, falling next on my bookshelves that housed In Cold Blood, Helter Skelter and — God help me — Love Story and Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

A pile of record albums was stacked in a milk crate, and Tom glanced at the one on top. John Denver’s Greatest Hits. He raised his eyebrows at me.

“Shit, Tom, I got that when I was 12.”

“So your mother has been away how long?” I was grateful he changed the subject, but he didn’t leave the room. I was feeling some pretty bad karma in here, and I wanted to get out before my ghost of teenage past decided to come back and offer me a bong hit.

I took a step backward, toward the door. “They’ve been gone a week. They’re back tomorrow.”


“She’s with Bill Bennett.” I sighed, wishing it weren’t so but not able to do anything about it. “She called me this morning, asked me to come by and check for a fax, it was here, I saw her cleaning lady and then the cleaning lady got in a car with a creepy guy and took off.” I didn’t want to tell him that Rocco was here, too, and that we’d followed Lourdes. That might make it a little too complicated and it didn’t seem altogether relevant. I took another step toward the hall.

This page gives the reader a glimpse back into the past to the teenage Annie, her current relationship with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend (who is her boss), and a snapshot of the action that’s occurred in previous chapters. While it doesn’t move the story forward per se, it takes a short pause to let the reader take a breath in a book that is full of plot twists and action.
Read an excerpt from Dead of the Day and visit Karen E. Olson's website to learn more about her and her books.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"The Sound of Butterflies"

Rachael King's debut novel The Sound of Butterflies, which was among the top three bestselling New Zealand fiction titles in her native country for 12 weeks when it was published in July 2006, was recently released in the U.S. by William Morrow.

King applied the Page 69 Test to her novel and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Sound of Butterflies is the last page of chapter three, so it has only a little over half a page of text. In it, we eavesdrop on a conversation between Captain Samuel Fale and Charles Winterstone, the father of the main female protagonist, Sophie Edgar. It isn’t an accurate slice of the whole novel, as it is a scene between two minor characters, although they both play their part as antagonists, so are important to the story. We are in Fale’s point of view, and he has chanced upon Sophie’s father in a restaurant while waiting for a friend. It is clear by now that Fale is in love with Sophie, a married woman, and meeting Winterstone has made him want Sophie all the more, although he is careful not to let on to Winterstone his feelings as he doesn’t want to compromise Sophie and her reputation.

This is a sub-plot in the novel really, which is about what happened to butterfly collector Thomas Edgar in the Amazon to render him mute, and Sophie’s effort to communicate with him. Captain Fale is only a hindrance in that there is a chance he will spill the secret to Sophie’s father and give him reason to disapprove of the marriage.

“But here is chance to do some good, perhaps. Surely if her father only knew about his son-in-law’s muteness, he would be able to help her. Perhaps he could arrange for some top quality care in some hospital, somewhere far away.”

Just far away enough for Fale to get his mitts into Sophie, perhaps. The chapter finishes with the thought that reveals to the reader what his intentions will become: “He should have liked this man as a father-in-law.”
Read an excerpt from The Sound of Butterflies, and learn more about the novel and its author at Rachael King's website and her blog.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Hartsburg, USA"

David Mizner is the author of two novels, Political Animal and the recently released Hartsburg, USA.

He applied the Page 69 Test to the new novel and reported the following:
Asked to do this post, I hoped that Page 69 of my book contained some writerly writing, one of those going-for-it, poetic passages that writers craft with block quotes in mind. (Oh, is that just me? Never mind.) Alas, my 69 has none of that; it’s a understated section. It’s important, though, in that it depicts the domestic life that Bevy both loves and tries to transcend by running for school board.

Hartsburg USA is told from the alternating perspectives of the two candidates: Bevy, a conservative Christian, and Wally, a secular liberal. While the campaign provides the book’s structure and much of it tension, most page-time is spent tracking the candidates’ nonpolitical lives. Wally is absent on 69. It’s all Bevy, taking care of her twins and their friend, searching for a Band-Aid for the friend's bleeding finger, calling her mother-in-law to ask her to bring over a Band Aid, facing the judgment of the friend's mother when she comes to pick him up.

Bevy’s insecurity about her mothering and housekeeping is on display, her fear of judgment by both her mother-in-law and Marybeth, the mother of her sons’ friend. But when Marybeth shows up, the judgment goes both ways. Though devout and committed to church life, Bevy isn't entirely at home among her fellow churchgoers. She'd come to God after a life of rebellion and a trace of the rebel remains. 69, I think, hints at her loneliness, a product of the lack of intimacy in his life and also her need to stand apart.
Read an excerpt from the novel, and learn more about the book and author at David Mizner's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Signed, Mata Hari"

Yannick Murphy is the author of the novels Here They Come and The Sea of Trees. Her story collections include Stories in Another Language and In a Bear's Eye (forthcoming in February).

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel Signed, Mata Hari, and reported the following:
Page 69 is an erotic name for a blog. The land of erotica is the land I walked in while I wrote Signed, Mata Hari. P. 69 of the text, however, is not so erotic. Not unless you consider Mata Hari in prison and a nun who used to be a cleaning lady having a conversation in Mata Hari’s cell erotic. Although it’s not a steamy scene, p. 69 of the text does reveal one significant aspect of Mata Hari’s nature, other than her seductiveness, that is constant throughout the book. She believes that she once cheated death as a child and therefore she still believes that she is immune to death now, even though there is every indication that her trial for espionage will result in the death sentence. Sister Leonide, the nun, describes for Mata Hari how when she was a cleaning lady she had a window into people’s domesticity, the state of their rooms told her what the person was feeling, what his fears and hopes and dreams were. Mata Hari asks what Sister Leonide can “read” from the condition of her cell and Sister Leonide answers, in effect, that she can tell Mata Hari is not at peace with herself. Mata Hari is quite used to not being at peace with herself and to learn that Sister Leonide has discovered it only makes her summon her strength and repeat to Sister Leonide that she believes she is invincible. Prior to her imprisonment Mata Hari didn’t find peace either. She found turmoil in her loveless marriage. She found heartbreak in motherhood. And it wasn’t until her marriage dissolved that she was able to express herself and become a world famous provocative dancer, but her success ultimately and inadvertently led to her involvement in espionage. It was this constant tension at play in Mata Hari’s life, this arduous balancing act of wifely duties, motherhood, her never before seen erotic artistic expression and her unflagging belief that she could cheat death which made me want to write a novel about her.

P69 of Signed, Mata Hari:

table where a glass had been picked up and been set down again so many times that she knew the drinker must have been frantic with worry or overcome by anger. She noticed where the pile of the carpet had been pressed down in a spot by the window, where the person’s feet had stood for hours at a time, looking outside, waiting for someone to come or to leave or for something to happen.

It was cleaning rooms that made her realize she wanted to help people. She knew the only way she could help people was if she had something to give them. She didn’t have anything, at the time. So she went and married God. After she had God, she knew she now had something to give. It was very easy, she said. Cleaning rooms was harder, she said.

Mata Hari asked Sister Leonide what she noticed about her cell. Did it cry out that she was a traitorous spy?

I can tell by the way your pillow is pressed down all over when you wake in the morning that you have had head-tossing dreams, because in your sleep you thought turning over would make the bad dreams end, and let a good dream in, Sister Leonide said.

Mata Hari knelt down in front of her, Sister Leonide’s silver cross was cold at her cheek. She looked into the blackness of her habit.

I have walked across the sea, she whispered.

I know you are brave, she said, because you do not finish the food on your plate and you think you will go on living and that you do not need the food because you think you will be freed someday and there will be better food to eat. Then she stroked her head. You should finish your food, she whispered.

I have walked across the sea, Mata Hari told her, and she did not finish her food. The velvet horn tangled in my feet wet blad-…
Read an excerpt from Signed, Mata Hari and learn more about the novel and its author at Yannick Murphy's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 11, 2007

"On the Fireline"

Matthew Desmond worked four seasons as a wildland firefighter in Arizona and is the author of On the Fireline: Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters, recently published by the University of Chicago Press.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new book and reported the following:
From On the Fireline, p. 69:

“But not everyone wants to put their life on the line just for a paycheck,” Diego tells me.

Economic incentives help to draw Diego (and many others) to the profession of wildland firefighting; but economic incentives are not the only motivation, nor are they the strongest.

Diego’s economic interests would be better served if he remained in a permanent position in the labor market, where he could take advantage of the benefits that come with full-time employment. Crewmembers who are temporarily employed receive no benefits and no health insurance. And since they are seasonal workers in the summer, they are also seasonal workers in the winter, which means they lose out on benefits from their off-season jobs as well. Because wildland firefighters consistently return to the Forest Service each summer, they forfeit opportunities offered by other employers such as pay increases, promotions, and benefit packages. In addition, they have no guarantee as to how long their position will last. They could be let go after two months, for instance, if the monsoons come early and the forest does not ignite. If firefighters were only in it for the money, they would secure permanent positions in the labor market that offer better chances of long-term economic advancement. And since firefighting is one of the most popular blue-collar professions in America, often garnering hundreds of applications for a handful of open positions, it is safe to assume that a job as a clerk, a mechanic, or a salesperson would be significantly easier to attain than a sought-after spot on a firecrew.

Although wildland firefighting does not provide my crewmembers with the most profitable means of earning a living, Elk River [Fire Station] does give them something they regard as very precious. It offers them a place of their own, a place where they can carve their names into the sidewalk, an isolated piece of the world where they feel they belong. In their eyes, Elk River is their cleft in the rock, their refuge — from supervision and laws, and from women and city boys and their suffocating civilization.

The page 69 test works! Indeed, I would be hard pressed to select a better passage from On the Fireline: Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters. Here, the reader finds me wrapping up a conversation with Diego, a quick-witted twenty-year-old wildland firefighter, who drives home the point that, by and large, the promise of a big paycheck is not the reason why firefighters sign up for a job that could kill them. Nor, I go on to argue, are firefighters primarily enticed summer after summer by thrill lust, adventure, or a quest for masculine honor, as is often thought. Rather, they gravitate toward the profession because it offers them an outlet for the reaffirmation and reconstitution of their most deep-seated dispositions, dispositions cultivated within the contexts of their working-class rural upbringing. The process of becoming a firefighter begins long before young people join firecrews; it begins during their childhoods with thousands of experiences specific to their upbringing. In this way, firefighters acquire many of the skills and attitudes needed to chase smoke long before they step onto the fireline. Their supporting organizations — including the United States Forest Service, the organization featured in this book — know this. In fact, they depend on it when sculpting the ready and willing firefighter, who charges headlong into the clutches of danger when the alarm sounds.

On the Fireline, an immersion into a Northern Arizona firecrew on which I served for four seasons, is my attempt to understand how organizations that demand much from their workers — indeed, sometimes their very lives — tap into and rely upon America’s economic inequalities, how individuals’ classed lifestyles and backgrounds influence their decision to volunteer for hazardous jobs, and how individuals’ social positions, personal histories, and specific paths through life predispose them to the rigors of risky work. While writing this book, I discovered that, when we ask ourselves, “Why do firefighters seek out such a dangerous occupation?,” we find that the answer reveals just as much about us — and the social order we uphold — as it does about them.
Read an excerpt from On the Fireline and learn more about the book at the University of Chicago Press website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 9, 2007

"Try Dying"

James Scott Bell is the award winning author of several novels of suspense and historical intrigue.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his latest book Try Dying, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Try Dying is calm before storm.

First the set-up.

Ty Buchanan is a hot lawyer at a respected L.A. firm. His fiance, Jacqueline Dwyer, died in what appears to be a freak accident. A guy shot himself on a freeway overpass, fell 100 feet to the freeway below, hitting the car Jacqueline was driving. A few days later Ty gets a mysterious bit of information that Jacqueline may not have died when the body hit, but at the scene, when someone killed her. Now he has to find out why.

When he tries, he is almost killed himself. That's not supposed to happen to hot lawyers at respected firms in L.A.

On page 69 Ty, healing, is invited to play some basketball by another associate at the firm, Al Bradshaw. He wants to get Ty back to normal. Ty shouldn't play, but there's a gnawing in him that needs outlet. So down to the club they go and get in a game with some other guys, including a bruiser named Bruce. Ty and Bruce get into it two pages later, with some very bad results.

What is happening is that Ty Buchanan is beginning to realize he is not the same man he was after Jacqueline died. That his search for the truth is becoming an obsession that overshadows everything he does. Because of this obsession, he's going to lose some things. Big things. Maybe his own life.

This is the kind of suspense fiction I like best, going all the way back to Chandler and through John D. MacDonald. In fact, it was MacDonald who said, "I want the people that I read about to be in difficulties -- emotional, moral, spiritual, whatever, and I want to live with them while they're finding their way out of these difficulties."

That's what I'm trying to do in this book.
Read an excerpt from Try Dying, and learn more about the author and his books at James Scott Bell's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 8, 2007

"Snake Oil Science"

R. Barker Bausell, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore, was Research Director of a National Institutes of Health-funded Complementary and Alternative Medicine Specialized Research Center where he was in charge of conducting and analyzing randomized clinical trials involving acupuncture's effectiveness for pain relief. He has also served as a consultant to Prevention and Discover magazines.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new book Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Snake Oil Science (inset, below right; click to enlarge) happens to mark a chapter beginning and contains only 15 lines of text. In some ways the chapter itself (“Impediments that Prevent Poorly Trained Scientists from Making Valid Inferences”) marks a transition to the book’s main business, which is to answer the following question: “Is there any credible or plausible evidence to suggest that complementary and alternative (CAM) medical therapies are anything more than placebos?”

After giving a little background about CAM therapies and the placebo effect, the book’s first four chapters discuss how so many millions of intelligent people could be wrong about the effectiveness of these bizarre practices that we various term alternative, CAM, new age, integrative, and snake oil therapies. Chapter Five begins the task of actually looking at the scientific evidence, some of which is produced by credible scientists, some by poorly trained ones as suggested in the page 69 chapter heading, and some by the disingenuous intellectual ancestors of the original snake oil salesmen.

The bulk of the book’s remaining 226 pages, however, are given over to contrasting (1) the plausibility of the biological explanations for how placebos vs. the various CAM therapies work and (2) the credibility of the evidence that CAM therapies do have therapeutic effects over and above those attributed to the placebo effect. This presentation also provides the medium by which I have attempted to achieve my second purpose in writing this book: to educate the reader regarding how high quality scientific evidence is generated and can be evaluated in a completely non-technical manner.

I believe that anyone with even a passing interest in science will be fascinated by both the reviewed evidence and the logical process involved in determining if there is anything to acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, energy healing, and the hundreds of other CAM therapies presently on the market. For ultimately it is the poorly trained, disingenuous scientists alluded to on page 69, along with the media’s uncritical acceptance of these “scientists” interpretations of their research, which constitutes one of the primary reasons that so many intelligent people are wrong about the effectiveness of CAM therapies.
Learn more about Snake Oil Science at the Oxford University Press website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"Service Included"

While Phoebe Damrosch was figuring out what to do with her life, she supported herself by working as a waiter. Before long she was a captain at the New York City four-star restaurant Per Se, the culinary creation of master chef Thomas Keller. The experience spawned her behind-the-scenes memoir, Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her debut book and reported the following:
Service Included tells the story of how I fell in love with my day job: waiting tables at one of the world’s best restaurants. Prior to waiting tables, I was a writer -- but before that, I was a classical violist and it is to classical music that I now turn in order to unpack page 69.

Let’s say you’ve just flipped on your local public radio station. You’re a little wary because you’ve just suffered through a fund drive, so it’s with relief that you find yourself in the middle of a symphonic interlude. The piece sounds vaguely familiar, but you can’t place it. This is because you’ve tuned into what is known as the “development,” in which the composer leads you from the main theme (the “exposition”) to the return of that theme (the “recapitulation”) through a series of thematically-related key and tempo changes. Page 69 is my development.

We have just survived an electrical fire in the wall of the kitchen, which occurred one week after our big opening (exposition). We trained for the opening by taking dance lessons and written exams, tasting sixteen kinds of chocolate, and learning the names of six butter-producing cows in Vermont. Little do I know that within weeks my most regular guest will be Frank Bruni, the New York Times food critic, and everything I learned in my training will be reviewed, judged, and immortalized (recapitulation).

From Page 69:

Within days of our second opening, guests had posted reviews of their experiences on blogs and foodie websites. Comments on the food were, on the whole, complimentary. Impressions of the room were less so. Early critics found the browns and grays drab, the lines stark and sterile, the marble and glass cold. At best, they described the room as “cosmopolitan.” The room was certainly not quaintly modeled after a farmhouse, as was the fashion in many of the “produce-driven” restaurants around the city; it did not have rococo scrolls and ornate flowers, the crushed velvet/bordello look, or the tarnished mirrors of a faux-bistro. But to find fault with this would be to miss the point. The well-spaced tables, muted colors, and clean lines remained understated on purpose. To further the calming effect, the room was quiet (except for the occasional deafening fire alarm). Even the traffic in Columbus Circle swarmed in silence…
Read an excerpt from Service Included and visit Phoebe Damrosch's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"The Tale of Hawthorn House"

Susan Wittig Albert is the best-selling author of many books for young people and mysteries for adults.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new book The Tale of Hawthorn House, and reported the following:
The Tale of Hawthorn House is the fourth book in an eight-book mystery series (The Cottage Tales) featuring Beatrix Potter and residents of the Lake District village of Near Sawrey. Each book provides a village mystery, solved, of course, by the intrepid and astute Miss Potter, with the creaturely assistance of a crew of domestic and woodland animals — all of whom talk. Well, you’d expect that, wouldn’t you, from Beatrix Potter, whose bunny books were the publishing phenomenon of the early 1900s? The series is aimed at readers of all ages. It is especially enjoyed by young readers (the books are being used by homeschool moms and dads), adult readers who fondly remember Beatrix Potter’s “little books,” and families looking for family read-alouds.

The page 69 test, applied to The Tale of Hawthorn House, turns up three of the creatures who live in Beatrix Potter’s barnyard at Hill Top Farm, the Lake District farm that Miss Potter purchased in 1905. Aunt Susan and Dorcas, black Berkshire pigs, are “real”: that is, they were real pigs who really enjoyed Hill Top’s kitchen scraps, as described by Beatrix Potter in her letters.

Indeed, Aunt Susan was Beatrix’s pet pig, who, as a piglet, ate in the kitchen and slept in a basket beside Beatrix’s bed. (For me, a big part of the fun of this series is weaving odd bits from Beatrix’s real life into my made-up fictions.)

Jackboy is a fictional Cockney magpie who has recently flown up from London. Jackboy likes to carry tales, although his rhyming slang renders him rather enigmatic. In this case, he’s tattling about Jemima Puddleduck’s secret stash of eggs. His riddling rhymes contain the clue to the barnyard mystery (only one of the mysteries of this multi-layered novel), if the pigs were smart enough to decipher it. Here is the whole of page 69:

Now fully pig-size (and then some), Aunt Susan still enjoyed kitchen privileges: biscuits and brown bread and beans and rice pudding from the Hill Top table, all stirred together in a bucket and moistened with warm, fresh milk from Kitchen the cow, and one or two eggs added to the mix. Which is why Aunt Susan was the fattest, laziest pig in the Hill Top barnyard, and why she was always thinking ahead to the next meal.

“Eggsie-peggsie in a nestie-pestie,” Jackboy remarked informatively, stretching his black wings.

“I think,”
hazarded Dorcas, “the fellow is babbling about eggs.” Dorcas was a clever, enterprising pig, slimmer, speedier, and not nearly so docile as Aunt Susan. Whenever she could, Dorcas pushed her way under the fence and darted into the woods (if you have ever seen a pig run, you will know that “dart” is exactly the right word). When she was safely out of sight in the woods, she always trotted straight to her favorite oak tree to root for acorns until someone fetched her home to tea.

Aunt Susan murmured. She rolled over onto her right side, setting in motion a muddy tidal wave. “I am very fond of eggs. I have been known to eat them raw, but I prefer fried or scrambled.” She closed her eyes, grunting dreamily. “Poached eggs are very good, too. And shirred eggs, and soft-boiled and baked. And creamed with chipped beef on toast, and deviled, and smothered and—”

remarked Jackboy in a confidential tone.

“Quacksie-hatchie-missie-blissie.” And with that, he flew away.

Dorcas scratched her piggy ear with one hind hoof.
“I always imagine that there is some great significance in Jackboy’s tales, but they are probably just nonsense. It sounds as if he is talking about ducks and eggs.”

“There is no nonsense about eggs,”
said Aunt Susan firmly. “They are extremely significant. Chicken eggs, duck eggs, goose eggs, guinea eggs, partridge eggs — delightfully tasty, each and every one of them.” She shuddered. “Except, of course, when they are served with pork sausages or bacon. Then they are incredibly inedible.”

This page is more fun if you read it out loud. I love to play with language, and Jackboy’s rhymes and Aunt Susan’s piggy lists absolutely delight me. But I’m sorry that Miss Potter and Jemima Puddleduck, the book’s two protagonists, don’t appear on page 69. To meet them, you’ll just have to read the rest of the book, won’t you?
Read an excerpt from The Tale of Hawthorn House, and learn more about Susan Wittig Albert and her books at her website.

Enter the drawing for a first-edition copy of The Tale of Hawthorn House by visiting the book's special book drawing page. There is a deadline, so don't dawdle.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 4, 2007

"Stone Cold"

David Baldacci is the author of over one dozen New York Times best-sellers: Absolute Power, Total Control, The Winner, The Simple Truth, Saving Faith, Wish You Well, Last Man Standing, The Christmas Train, Split Second, Hour Game, The Camel Club, The Collectors and Simple Genius as well as his Freddy and the French Fries children's series.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel Stone Cold, and reported the following:
Con artist Annabelle Conroy, along with Oliver Stone and the members of the “Camel Club,” are running for their lives and trying to stay one step ahead in the game. And, how far will casino king Jerry Bagger go to literally get his hands around the neck of Conroy, a woman who tricked him out of millions? It appears from page 69 of my latest thriller, Stone Cold, that Bagger would do anything to get his revenge on Conroy.

This novel is clearly a cat-and-mouse game but what stands out in the end is the depth of characters. In some cases, you become very intimate with a character and with others, I have left them in the shadows where you want to know so much more.

So, in “my book,” the Page 69 test is right on the money.
Read an excerpt from Stone Cold, and learn more about David Baldacci and his books at his website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 3, 2007

"The Toothpick"

Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his latest book, The Toothpick: Technology and Culture, and reported the following:
As its subtitle suggests, The Toothpick is not only about the development of the machinery that could mass-produce wooden toothpicks by the millions daily but also about the many ways in which the “splendid splinters” have been both embraced and scorned throughout the world.

Since page 69 occurs relatively early in the story, it is about the many interests of the inventor Benjamin Franklin Sturtevant, who in 1863 received the first patent relating to the manufacture of toothpicks — an idea he derived from his method for making wooden pegs by which the uppers were fastened to the soles of shoes in the mid-nineteenth century! The rights to Sturtevant’s patent were acquired by Charles Forster, who went on to accumulate a fortune making and selling nothing but wooden toothpicks.

Before page 69, the reader will learn of the fossil evidence that enables archaeologists to call toothpicking the “oldest human habit”; of the many different things that have been used for toothpicks (goose quills, bird beaks, walrus whiskers, etc.); of the five-century-old Portuguese tradition of making excellent toothpicks by hand; of Charles Forster’s discovery of these toothpicks in Brazil and his vision of making such good toothpicks by machine that he would be able to export them to South America and around the world.

After page 69, the reader will find out how Forster accomplished his dream and how his marketing genius made wooden toothpicks all the rage in America by the 1880s. But not everyone approved of men and women walking around with a toothpick in their mouth, and so the debates about manners and etiquette that continue to this day are recounted in The Toothpick. The varying customs associated with toothpick use in different cultures are described, as are the different kinds of toothpicks that can be found around the world.

There are also chapters on the many different unintended uses of toothpicks; the dangers of swallowing a toothpick; the various means that have been devised for dispensing sanitary toothpicks in public places; the ways in which inventors have claimed to have improved upon the common toothpick; the final disposition of Charles Forster’s toothpick empire; the secrecy associated with the manufacture wooden toothpicks; and the fate of toothpick making in America today as a result of inferior imports from China.
Read an excerpt from The Toothpick and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Mark Coggins, who lives in San Francisco, writes the August Riordan mystery series, including the novels Immortal Game, Vulture Capital, and Candy from Strangers.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Runoff, the latest August Riordan mystery, and reported the following:
Runoff is about a mayoral election in San Francisco where it appears as if the results have been altered by someone hacking the city’s newly installed touch-screen voting machines. Jazz bass-playing PI August Riordan is hired by Leonora Lee, the most powerful woman in Chinatown, to find out why her hand-picked candidate failed to carry even the predominantly Chinese districts in the city — and to prevent further election tampering in the upcoming runoff between the two remaining candidates.

Page 69 falls on the last page of a chapter called “How Now?,” which is the name of a bar Riordan visits to decompress after being questioned by police for the second time in two days. This time the questioning comes as a result of his shooting and killing the chief engineer of the city’s voting machine vendor after the engineer went “postal” and attempted to kill the president of the firm with a shotgun.

Riordan’s communion with a bourbon bottle is interrupted when he receives a call on his cell phone from Leonora Lee. Riordan explains what happened at the voting machine company, and as they are wrapping up their conversation on page 69, Lee puts in:

“Very good. My daughter has a question for you.”

“She does?”

“She asks if you’re still planning to perform at Shanghai 1930 this evening?”

“Yes — yes I am.”

“I never understood my late husband’s fascination with jazz — and I understand Lisa’s even less. But it seems to have worked in your favor, Mr. Riordan. I’ve asked Lisa to give you something. Remind her if she forgets.”

“Sure,” I said, but she’d already hung up.

I pushed the rest of the bourbon aside and stood. The bartender looked up from his racing form and mumbled something about “freaking cell phones.” I put what I owed him on the bar and then snapped an extra ten under his nose. “Let me see you smile,” I said. He obliged me. He had beautiful teeth, but they weren’t indigenous to his mouth — which put him in company with me. I dropped the bill on top of the racing form and sauntered out of there. My world seemed a much better place now that Lisa had confirmed a return visit.

I think the selection on page 69 gives the reader a hint of Riordan’s interest in jazz, his interest in Lee’s beautiful daughter and, with the comment about the bartender’s and his own teeth, insight into Riordan’s wiseacre personality and the fact that he’s rough and tumble enough to have lost a few of his own pearly whites.
Read an excerpt from Runoff and learn more about the novel at Coggins' website and his blog, Riordan's Desk.

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

--Marshal Zeringue