Monday, October 27, 2008

"The Body in the Record Room"

Joe Barone was raised on the grounds of a state mental hospital in the 1950's. He is a retired ordained minister who lives in Missouri.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new mystery novel The Body in the Record Room, and reported the following:
Can a state hospital mental patient who thinks he is the cowboy hero Roy Rogers resolve a decades-old murder in the town of Sunrise? Set in the 1950's, The Body in the Record Room is the story of Roy Rogers, his friend Harry, and Harry's dog Bullet. Roy finds a body in the hospital record room, and that leads him to investigate a murder that happened in the town of Sunrise 20 years ago.

Page 69 reflects something of the humor and humanity in the book. That page opens a chapter. The hospital superintendent, the little man, is coming across the ward. The chapter opening is told, as is the whole book, in Roy's voice:

I wasn't surprised when I saw the little man coming across the ward. I even braced myself for what he would probably have to say. But it didn't happen that way.

"You and Harry cause a lot of trouble," he said with a smile.

I just stood there.

"You don't have to tell me where you all were keeping the little dog. Dr. Jane has said she'll take it now. That way, she'll have a pet. She can get its shots and all, and after a while Harry can go down and visit Bullet–That's his name, right?– any time he wants to."

"She's a nice lady," I said.

"Of course she's a nice lady. She even disinfected the little emergency room herself. Do you know how hard it is to disinfect a place like that?"

The book contrasts a terrible crime (life-changing child abuse) with the humanity of people such as the book's Roy Rogers, Harry, Dr. Jane and the little man. It shows how an initial evil can lead to several murders. It also shows how the examples of great heroes (the real Roy Rogers and Dale Evans) change people's lives.
Learn more about the book and author at Joe Barone's website and blog.

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

--Marshal Zeringue