Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"The Black Tower"

Louis Bayard is the author of the national bestseller The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy, a New York Times Notable book. A staff writer for, Bayard has written articles and reviews for the New York Times, the Washington Post,, and Preservation, among others.

Last year, he applied the Page 69 Test to The Pale Blue Eye; now he has tried out the test on his new novel, The Black Tower, and reported the following:
This time around, page 69 turns out to be decently representative. The detective character -- Vidocq -- is not present (though he's waiting in the wings), but the narrator -- an earnest, fumbling medical student named Hector Carpentier -- is present and accounted for. We establish that he's 26 and that he's edging into dangerous territory. In only the second line, someone asks him, "Were you followed?"

The speaker, we soon find, is a baroness, elderly but once beautiful, with a dazzling smile "whetted against a million drawing rooms and antechambers." She lives in isolation, her only companion a cat. Uncharacteristically, she suggests a walk in the nearby Luxembourg Gardens, which are shrouded with fog -- always apt meteorology for a mystery. As we reach the end of the page, the baroness is about to explain her connection to a Monsieur Leblanc, a connection that goes back a quarter century and has a distinct bearing on current events.

Yes, all in all, a decent introduction to The Black Tower. I found myself actually turning the page, even though I know what happens.
Read an excerpt from The Black Tower, and learn more about the book and author at Louis Bayard's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue