Monday, June 30, 2008

"A Poisoned Mind"

Natasha Cooper is author of nine Trish Maguire crime novels.

She applied the Page 69 Test to the latest title in the series, A Poisoned Mind, and reported the following:
Page 69:

Trish got slowly to her feet, testing her reactions. She'd expected to be nervous and was glad to notice nothing out of the ordinary. You needed some apprehension to get the adrenaline flowing and keep your mind sharp.

She stepped out beside Robert, feeling her ribs expand with every breath she took. He knew better than to talk or offer advice just before a court appearance, and she was grateful for that.

Angie waited by the security guards as Greg fed their bags of documents through the scanner. They rattled towards her over the narrow metal rollers and she hauled them off one by one. Her black suit felt odd: tight around the stomach and yet much less heavy than her usual clothes. She felt exposed, too, with her legs out of trousers for the first time in years... There were no embarrassing bleeps or hold-ups. He was waved through and they made their way to Court 14.

The building was intimidatingly churchy, with high gothic arches in the main hall and a floor of inlaid coloured marble. But the court itself was a plain room, not nearly as large as the exterior suggested, with a slightly shabby red carpet, cream-painted walls and mid-brown wooden furniture. In a way it was a bit like a meeting room for hire in a not-very-expensive hotel...

This scene is set in the Royal Courts of Justice in London, at the start of the case that lies at the heart of my novel A Poisoned Mind.

My continuing character, Trish Maguire, is now a senior barrister in London. Angie is a farmer, whose land has been polluted - perhaps for generations to come - by a terrible explosion in some chemical waste tanks belonging to a multinational company. Her husband was killed in the explosion, and she is burning still with such anger that she has to get justice for her dead husband.

Trish has always liked fighting to protect the vulnerable and so she wishes she were acting for Angie. But she's not. She's for the multinational company. And Angie is fighting for herself as a litigant-in-person, dependent for moral support on Greg, an earnest member of a small pressure group campaigning against the destruction of the environment.

Naturally nothing is as it seems.

So page 69 is representative of one major part of the novel, but there is also the story of Jay, a friend of Trish's teenage half-brother, David. Jay comes from a troubled background, with an alcoholic mother and a violent elder brother, and he has form. Trish knows he is almost as dangerous as the explosive chemical waste, ready to blow up the instant someone threatens him, but she cares too much to abandon him to his hellish family and so she lives on tenterhooks, waiting for the disaster she fears....
Read an excerpt from A Poisoned Mind, and learn more about the author and her work at Natasha Cooper's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue