Saturday, April 4, 2009

"Skin and Bones"

Tom Bale's debut novel, Sins of the Father, was published in April 2006.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his latest novel, Skin and Bones, and reported the following:
Skin and Bones tells the story of a young woman, Julia Trent, who gets caught up in a killing spree in the tiny Sussex village of Chilton. A gunman goes on the rampage, shooting everyone in his path, before taking his own life.

At least, that’s what everyone thinks.

By page 69, Julia has been shot and left for dead. In the grim aftermath of the massacre, journalist Craig Walker tries unsuccessfully to reach the village, which is now sealed off by police. He is desperate to learn the fate of his father, who lived in Chilton, but at this stage the authorities won’t confirm any details about the number or identity of the victims. Reluctantly, Craig decides there isn’t much point remaining at the scene:

He had his press card and no doubt could have talked his way into the media tent, but it was bound to lead to trouble. He knew exactly the kind of morbid humour that journalists employed at times like this, and he’d just end up picking a fight with someone. He had no desire to mix with people for whom this was little more than a thrilling carnival.

Craig returns home, knowing he is set for a difficult conversation with his wife, Nina, whom he suspects of having an affair. She’d supposedly gone into work that Saturday morning, but when news of the massacre broke and Craig called her office, no one could find her.

She stepped forward as if to embrace him, but perhaps sensing it wouldn’t be welcome, settled for lightly caressing his arm. “Is he all right?”

“No news yet. They said they’ll let me know.” Again she reached out, but he brushed her off and made for the living room. He felt her freeze, slightly incredulous that she had been shunned. “What are they saying on TV?”

“Mostly speculation,” she said, “recycled over and over. Reporters interviewing each other because no one will speak to them.”

Craig grunted. He threw himself on to a sofa. Sky News was showing what appeared to be the same aerial footage from earlier. The voiceover said, “…now confirmed to be one of the worst spree killings in recent years.”

Page 69 isn’t particularly representative of the book, in that it features a secondary character, but hopefully it conveys some of the fear and confusion felt by those caught up in the tragedy. Soon Craig will learn that his father gave his life to save Julia, and then, when he eventually manages to speak to her, he makes an even more shocking discovery. There were two gunmen, not one. And the second killer is still out there…
Read an excerpt from Skin and Bones and watch the video trailer.

Learn more about the author and his work at Tom Bale's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue