Monday, November 10, 2008

"The Victoria Vanishes"

Christopher Fowler is the acclaimed author of many novels, including the award-winning Full Dark House, and the Peculiar Crimes Unit mysteries, White Corridor, The Water Room, Seventy-Seven Clocks, and Ten Second Staircase.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new Peculiar Crimes Unit mystery, The Victoria Vanishes, and reported the following:
Weirdly, I think the p69 test is very representative of the book - my detectives are so argumentative that their personalities create the story, and this little extract seems to perfectly catch Mr Bryant's impossible attitude toward his boss.

From page 69:

‘There’s no room here,’ Land snapped. ‘Look how much space you take up, boxes of musty old books you never read – ‘

‘They’re for reference.’

‘Smelly old suitcases full of outmoded laboratory instruments, endless unlabelled bottles of chemicals and I only have your word that they’re safe – ‘

‘I think you’ll find I never promised that.’

‘Half the stuff in the evidence room isn’t ours, and I’ve no idea where you got it from – ‘

‘I can’t remember why I borrowed safecracking equipment, if that’s what you mean, or what I used it on, but I promise to return it when I do. There’s plenty of room for us all here. So that’s settled.’ Bryant gave what he hoped was a pleasing grin, revealing his patently false teeth to an alarming degree, then exited.

Land dug in his drawer for the miniature bottles of Glenfiddich he kept there and was about to down one when the door flew open again. ‘Forgot to mention we’ve a suspicious death coming in, woman in her forties found in Bloomsbury last night. I say it’s our case, what I mean is I want us to handle it because I saw her alive. We’ve nothing urgent pending at the moment, have we?’

‘You can’t just decide to take the case anymore, Bryant, you need to talk to Renfield about it. What do you mean, you saw her alive?’

‘Haven’t bumped into Renfield yet, running late on his first day, not a very impressive start is it, John and I will get off to the morgue then, you can tell him for us, can’t you? And if you’re going to start drinking that stuff first thing in the morning, I reserve the right to start smoking my Old Sailor’s Full Strength Rough Cut Navy Shag in the office, just so you know. Pip pip.’

The slam of the door was Land’s cue to snap off the cap of his miniature and down it neat.
Read an excerpt from the novel, and learn more about the book and author at Christopher Fowler's website and blog.

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

--Marshal Zeringue