Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Lost River"

David Fulmer is the author of, among other works, the acclaimed Storyville mysteries featuring Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr. The first volume of the series, Chasing the Devil's Tail, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Mystery/Thriller Book Prize and the winner of the Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Lost River, the new Storyville mystery, and reported the following:
Page 69 opens Chapter Six and takes us deeper into the mind of William Brown, who was introduced in Chapter Three. He is a key figure in the bloody drama that's beginning to play out. I'm not giving anything away by revealing that he's the murderer of several of the victims. But it's also clear that he's not acting on his own volition, but is a puppet. The mystery is which party is pulling the strings and then why.

I've been flattered by several readers' comments on how I'm able to get into the heads of seriously crazy people. I appreciate that. And Brown isn't the only one in this book. In fact, three people with serious mental problems are connected, though none of them ever meets the other two.

All of them exhibit habits of people disconnected from reality. Mr. Brown takes it to the most extreme end and commits his crimes in an almost ritualistic fashion. He is beset by demons, inside and outside his head, and he can't identify any of them. He is an actor who is working out scenes in a vicious play, directed by an unseen hand. Since the homicides he commits are what set the entire narrative in motion, this is as good a page as any to drop in.

Chapter Six

William Brown paced the floor of his room, left and right, up and
down, at severe but exact angles, a hundred times over. He wanted to go but couldn't leave, not until he received his orders. So he walked until he swore he could look down and see where his soles had worn a ditch in the hard wood.

Then he found himself at the washstand, staring into a mirror so
cracked and tinted that he could barely make out his features, barely beholding a pale, smallish man with an oval head shaved clean. His eyes were too large, his nose too long, and his lips jutted like a Mississippi carp's. He knew if he kept staring into the dirty glass, all these features would grow larger and larger still, until he one of the grotesque ogre in the carnival parade.

Some moments passed before he realized that he was holding his
straight razor in his right hand. He opened it long enough to gaze upon the glinting edge of the blade, so delicate and hideous and that it made his gut twist. The razor clattered to the floor at the sound of a cream-white envelope being pushed under the door. William hadn't heard anyone approach and he didn't move a muscle until he was sure no one was lurking outside.

He edged to the door and bent down to pick up the envelope. Sliding
a yellowed fingernail along the fold, he opened it to find a single sheet of paper and a gold coin, which he rubbed as he read through the half-dozen words written in a tight hand: a name, an address, a time.

He laid envelope and paper aside. Kneeling to the floor, he lifted a
short board and retrieved from between the joists a Liberty .22 seven-shot that was small enough to fit within the span of his hand. Once he had replaced the board, he stood up and dropped the pistol into a coat pocket. He donned his derby hat and stepped to the door.

Downstairs, exited the back door of the hotel into the alley and
began his journey beneath the earth to the bright lights of Basin Street.
Read an excerpt from Lost River, and learn more about the author and his work at David Fulmer's website.

My Book, The Movie: David Fulmer's "Storyville" books.

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

--Marshal Zeringue