Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Unknown Means"

Elizabeth Becka's novel, Trace Evidence, is the first in a series featuring Forensic Scientist Evelyn James. James deals with a set of bizarre deaths in the Cuyahoga River, a rookie homicide detective, the mayor of Cleveland, a local mobster, and her own teenage daughter.

Becka applied the Page 69 Test to the second novel in the series, the recently-released Unknown Means, and reported the following:
The only problem with page 69 as representative of the book is that my main character, Evelyn James, is not in this scene. The point of view has switched to her homicide detective boyfriend, David Milaski, as he and his partner cross a construction site to interview a murder victim’s husband. So the page doesn’t tell us anything about Evelyn; on the other hand it tells us just about everything you need to know about David and his partner Riley. Riley is a smoker and David is deeply tired after a series of late night calls related to this murder case. Riley was friends with Evelyn for years before David came along and probably spent a number of those years hoping for more than a professional relationship, hopes dashed by this young upstart with a checkered past. David is in love with Evelyn but they differ on where to go from here. As a recent transplant to Cleveland, he’s got no one to talk to but Riley, even as he suspects he will receive no sympathy from that quarter.

Being tough cops, of course, they discuss none of this, only the case. David notes that the murder occurred directly across the river.

Riley responds:

“So William could have easily snuck out of the site, gone home, killed his wife, and been back before anyone realized he was gone?”


“Good thinking, son. I really like to see you taking initiative, theorizing about our potential murderer using the facts at hand.”

“All right.” David took advantage of a dropped wooden plank to step out of the sucking mud for five feet. “What’s wrong with it?”

“William Markham wasn’t here the day Grace died…”

I hope this page would make readers want to read the rest of the book. I hope they would decide that they want to know how this series of crimes relate to each other, whether David sorts out his uneasy relationships with the two people closest to him, and if the victim’s husband’s alibi is as airtight as it sounds.
Learn more about Unknown Means and its author at Elizabeth Becka's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue