Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Liars Anonymous"

Louise Ure is the Shamus Award-winning author of Forcing Amaryllis and The Fault Tree.

She applied “Page 69 Test” to her new novel, Liars Anonymous, and reported the following:
I wondered how little Katie was doing. Her mother, Catherine, had been dead more than three years now, washed away in an unusual October rainstorm that swept her car into the flooded arroyo like it was a twig, and then turned it upside down in the riverbed silt. There was no question of culpability; there had been other people there as witnesses. The driver behind her who had managed to brake before plunging into the torrent had done everything he could to reach Catherine, but hadn’t made it in time.

If she hadn’t died before going to the cops … if she’d lived long enough to testify against her uncle Walter … if I hadn’t seen the danger for myself. Shit. All the ‘ifs’ in the world wouldn’t change anything. In the end, I’d had to do it alone. Accuser, witness, judge, jury and executioner all rolled into one.

Damn. The Page 69 Test worked again. In two simple paragraphs, it lays out my protagonist’s core character flaw and sets the stage for the novel’s darkest confrontation.

Liars Anonymous is the tale of Jessie Dancing, a roadside-assistance operator in Arizona who hears a murder occur during a late night call. She’s no Jessica Fletcher, blithely stepping in to solve a crime she stumbles across. Jessie is more complicated than that, as this excerpt from page 69 suggests. She’s a woman who has already taken a life once before and now – thrust back into a world of violence and danger – is forced to face that decision again.

The idea for Liars Anonymous came to me when I saw a TV commercial for the OnStar service. In the TV spot, the operator is connected to a driver whose airbag has gone off. “I wonder how many dead people they talk to,” I asked my husband, imagining that those airbag deployments were often the result of fatal accidents. And then I imagined that the operator actually heard a murder take place.

An interesting idea, sure. But the book didn’t come to life for me until I crawled into the persona of Jessie Dancing, a damaged and vulnerable young woman whose razor-thin hold on self-respect and sanity could snap at any moment.

A Kirkus review in January paid me a lovely compliment by saying “Ure provides a meaty, twisty puzzle. But the real prize here is Jessie, a tough, conflicted heroine you won’t soon forget.”

I hope that readers agree.
Read the first chapter from Liars Anonymous, and learn more about the author and her work at Louise Ure's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Fault Tree.

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

--Marshal Zeringue