Saturday, December 1, 2007

"Broken Heartland"

J.M. Hayes is the author of The Grey Pilgrim (2000), Mad Dog & Englishman (2000), Prairie Gothic (2003), Plains Crazy (2004), and Broken Heartland (2007).

He applied the Page 69 Test to Broken Heartland and reported the following:
Broken Heartland is the fourth in my seasonal Kansas Mystery Quartet. My theory for this series is that nothing ever happens in small towns. But when it does, everything that can go wrong, will, and all at once. Call it Murphy's Law, squared. That's why each of the books takes place in twenty-four hours or less. The peace and quiet of Buffalo Springs is interrupted by some monstrous crime. Sheriff English, under-staffed and under-funded, sets out to bring the criminals to justice while his half-brother, the town oddball and a born-again Cheyenne, tends to get in the way and seem a likely suspect. Mad Dog also likes to bring his talents as a would-be shaman to unraveling the crime, or further complicating it.

Given the break-neck pace and sense of humor of the average Mad Dog & Englishman novel, one might expect a bit of wacky wildness on page 69. Instead, we find three characters on a farm. At least there's a hint of suspense. Someone is missing and two people are questioning the third. That results in a gun being drawn and confirmation that all is not well here, but it's hardly the high drama I'd like would-be readers to find. At least the man who pulls the gun reveals himself as someone other than your normal, run-of-the-mill bad guy when he curses his accusers with, "Dang! Now see what you've gone and made me do." If only this were a page 82 test we'd find a bit of humorous erotica, or, with a page 94 test, a building body count. Perhaps, next time, I'll have to ask my publisher for an early printout and an opportunity to revise with page 69 in mind. This time, I'll be satisfied with not finding any typos.
Learn more about the author and his books at the official website of J.M. Hayes.

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

--Marshal Zeringue