Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"In the Shadow of Gotham"

Stefanie Pintoff is the winner of the first Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Best First Crime Novel Competition. A graduate of Columbia University Law School, she also has a Ph.D. in literature from New York University.

She applied “Page 69 Test” to her new novel, In the Shadow of Gotham, and reported the following:
It is New York, 1905. A young woman has been brutally murdered north of the city. And as Detective Simon Ziele investigates, the case immediately takes an unorthodox turn: he is approached by Alistair Sinclair, a noted criminologist who is convinced of the killer’s identity.

In the excerpt below from page 69 of In the Shadow of Gotham, Alistair explains why he believes the killer is the same young man who has been the subject of his experimental research into the criminal mind.

“. . . the crime scene in Dobson almost perfectly embodies one of Fromley’s recurring fantasies. That makes Fromley the most likely suspect in the detective’s case.”

Horace raised an eyebrow. “Does this mean you’ve given up on the idea of rehabilitating him, Professor?”

“One never gives up when something is important,” Alistair replied firmly, his tone admonishing, “but we have larger responsibilities now that will take precedence. It’s our duty to help find and apprehend Fromley. Because of our work these past three years, no one else knows as much about his habits and behavior as we do.”

. . . “It’s a worthwhile avenue to explore,” I said noncommittally. I wanted to learn more about Fromley and their work with him here at the research center before I made up my mind.

Is what we see on page 69 representative of the novel as a whole? Most definitely, yes.

It captures the beginning of the uneasy partnership between Ziele and Alistair, which is at the center of the book. They are different men with distinct personalities, methods, and goals: Ziele is a practical-minded investigator with Lower East Side roots and a remarkable affinity for each victim he encounters, while Alistair is a high-brow academic with a consuming passion for understanding criminal violence. But they need each other if they are to catch a killer even more dangerous than they first imagine.

Through Alistair’s comments about “duty” and “larger responsibilities,” this page also touches on the ethical and moral questions that pervade the novel -- many of which surround Alistair himself. And before the final chapter, major characters including Ziele must decide: to what lengths will they go when the stakes are at their highest?

Readers drawn to my book will be those who want to understand not only who committed the murder and how – but also why. Page 69 suggests the "why" is important, and I’d like to think they’d want to read on.
Read an excerpt from In the Shadow of Gotham, and learn more about the book and author at Stefanie Pintoff's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue