Monday, February 16, 2009

"Murder in Four Parts"

Bill Crider's first book in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series won an Anthony Award for Best First Novel. His short story "Cranked," which appeared in Damn Near Dead, was nominated for an Edgar Award.

He applied the Page 69 Test to the new Dan Rhodes mystery, Murder in Four Parts, and reported the following:
As I understand it, the purpose of the Page 69 Test is to look at the page and see if it’s representative of the whole book and to decide if a reader skimming that page be likely to read on. Well, let’s take a look and see what we have on page 69 of Murder in Four Parts. Here’s an exchange that caught my eye:

Rhodes didn’t see any point in arguing, so he changed the subject.

“Did Cecil ever say anything to you about an alligator?”

“An alligator?” Faye Lynn was incredulous. “What are you talking about?”

“We got a call about an alligator today. It was in a ditch right across from that property you own out on the county road.”

“Who called you? It must have been that Royce Weeks. He’s always got something to complain about.”

“Royce doesn’t have anything to do with this,” Rhodes said, hoping he was telling the truth. They still hadn’t established the identity of the random chicken.

Anyone who’s read my blog can tell you about my interest (some might say “obsession”) with alligators. So page 69 is representative in some ways not just of the book but of my career. The random chicken is something new, but to my surprise, chickens turn out not only to be a minor plot device in this book but a major one in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes book coming out next year. A new obsession? No, just something that developed in the course of the writing. Someone might be saying, “But what about the feral hogs?” Don’t worry. They make a cameo appearance, but not on page 69.

As for whether people would read farther into the book after seeing this particular page, maybe that depends on whether they want to find out about that random chicken. And, of course, the alligator.
Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder, Murder Among the OWLS, and Of All Sad Words, as well as an excellent write-up about Dan Rhodes on the big screen at "My Book, The Movie."

Check out Bill Crider's website and blog.

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

--Marshal Zeringue