Saturday, January 17, 2009

"The Levee"

Malcolm Shuman is the author of over a dozen mystery novels.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his latest book, The Levee: A Novel of Baton Rouge, and reported the following:
The Levee is a story of Louisiana boys coming of age in 1959, one of the last years of America's innocence. It is about friendship, betrayal and how something that happened over forty years before still haunts the protagonist.

Colin Douglas, a successful writer of true crime books, is having bad dreams, which started when he watched a condemned killer die. Now Colin finds his sleep shattered by memories of a murder that occurred when he was in high school and used to camp on the levee with his friends. The story unfolds largely through Colin’s memories as he returns to his hometown to discover the truth.

The victim of the 1959 crime was the sensual young Spanish teacher at the boys’ school. Colin and his friends Toby, Blaize and Stan are convinced from the first that Rufus Sikes, the overseer of ruined Windsong Plantation, is the murderer but as information leaks out about the investigation it appears that the police have someone else in mind--Stan’s father, the doctor, who was having an affair with the victim. Soon the police actually arrest Stan’s father and the boys now set about to prove the doctor is innocent. But, with Toby constantly adding fuel to the fire, suspicions begin to cloud Colin’s relationship with Stan. Doubt augments suspicion and soon Colin doesn’t know what to believe. In the end, the boys sneak onto Windsong to find the truth.

Page 69, oddly enough, is pivotal in unraveling the entire plot. As Blanche St. Martin talks to Colin about her “sensitive” son, Blaize, she establishes that Blaize is special and that Colin’s friendship with Blaize is particularly valued. It would give away too much to go further, but it would not be too much to say that the entire story orbits this theme.
Read more about The Levee at the publisher's website and visit Malcolm Shuman's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue