Monday, March 16, 2009

"The Lost Witness"

Robert Ellis is a former filmmaker and political media consultant from Los Angeles. He is the author of three previous bestselling crime novels, Access to Power, The Dead Room, and the critically acclaimed City of Fire.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Lost Witness, his second novel featuring Detective Lena Gamble, and reported the following:
It was a very tough call choosing between page 69 and page 99. But the first gives you a real feel for what Detective Lena Gamble is up against in The Lost Witness. This is the second book in the series (following the critically acclaimed City of Fire), with Lena Gamble working a gruesome murder case and trying to do the impossible. The victim was dumped in the trash one block west of Hollywood and Vine. A young woman with no identification. Not even a hint of a clue. But by page 69, a witness who remains in hiding has sent Lena a message. She knows the name of the victim now, Jennifer McBride. And with Rhodes’s help, Lena has turned up a possible suspect in a mysterious doctor from Beverly Hills. Joseph Fontaine is nervous and seems unusually attached to his assistant, Greta Dietrich. On page 69 Lena and Rhodes have just concluded their interview with Fontaine and know that everything the doctor told them was a lie!

Here's page 69 as Lena and Rhodes return to their car in the dark of night …

“He’s doing her,” Rhodes said.

Lena nodded. It had been obvious the moment Dietrich followed Fontaine around his desk. Obvious the moment she spotted the matching tans. Dietrich wasn’t supporting her boss. She was standing beside her man. Even after hearing about McBride.

Rhodes held up his hand and Lena tossed him the keys. As she climbed into the passenger seat, she understood how difficult it would be to interpret Fontaine’s shaky behavior. She didn’t buy anything that he said. Fontaine knew the murder victim, looked them in the eye and lied. But he had a lot of reasons besides Dietrich to want to keep his relationship with a young prostitute hidden. He was a doctor who worked with children. McBride wasn’t much more than a girl. Even worse, she looked young for her age. Innocent.

The possibilities, the secrets, suddenly appeared more than grim.

Rhodes pulled out of the lot into a sea of cars inching their way down Wilshire Boulevard. She looked out the window at all the brake lights. The twelve mile trip downtown would probably take a couple of hours. When her cell phone vibrated, she checked the video screen, saw Lt. Barrera’s name and flipped it open.

“Where are you guys at?” he said.

The Lost Witness has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Library Journal is recommending the book for all popular collections. And I have to say that of any crime novel I’ve ever written, The Lost Witness is my absolute favorite. The story works like a roller coaster. Together we make the big climb up to the top of the first hill with Lena Gamble and Stan Rhodes in the front car. As the detectives put the murder case together, the reader gains confidence and thinks he or she has a handle on this story. And then something wonderful happens. We reach the top, see the track tumbling below, and take the shock that nothing in this book is what it appears to be. I like to think of The Lost Witness as a controlled crash, filled with thrills and chills and a big ending that will make everyone smile.
Read an excerpt from The Lost Witness, and learn more about the book and author at Robert Ellis's website.

The Page 69 Test: City of Fire.

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

--Marshal Zeringue