Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Where It Lies"

K.J. Egan is the author of five novels and numerous short stories. Writing as Conor Daly, he published a three-book golf mystery series, which also has been translated into German. Two of these novels, Local Knowledge and Buried Lies, received the 1997 Washington Irving Book Award for Fiction.

He applied the “Page 69 Test” to his new novel, Where It Lies, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Where It Lies is actually the first break in the action of the book. The narrator, Jenny Chase, digresses for approximately one and a half pages to place herself into context. The reader already knows, for example, that Jenny is a 40-ish single mother of a teenaged son, has an academic background, and now works as a golf pro at a suburban country club. On page 69, she gives a thumbnail explanation of how she arrived at this stage in her life.

Page 69 is not representative of the novel. Since Where It Lies is the start of a projected series, I needed a place for Jenny to explain herself to the reader. This explanation is deliberately short and deliberately vague because I didn’t want to break the narrative flow or tie myself into "character facts" that might not work in later installments.

Jenny tells the reader that she graduated from college with an English degree and third team all-American golf honors. She planned to play her way onto the women’s tour, but met a young lawyer named Roger Chase and got married. Sketched as the archetypal controlling spouse, Roger induced Jenny to get an advanced degree and to teach at a local college. Yet, as Jenny says: "Every couple of years, my dream kicked like a fetus in the womb. But Roger, bless his heart, cleverly stifled these stirrings."

At the start of the novel, the newly divorced Jenny is on the verge of fulfilling this dream. Unfortunately, her qualifying for the women’s U.S. Open coincides with her discovery of a dead body. Her subsequent investigation into a suicide she believes to have been a murder poses immediate choices. Does she help the dead man’s poor widow, or does she practice for the Open? And always in the back of her mind is this fear: How will Roger spin whatever choice she makes into recovering custody of their son?

Though not representative of the rest of the book, page 69 serves an important function. It not only introduces a complication into Jenny’s immediate situation but also foreshadows more serious confrontations in later installments.
Preview Where It Lies, and learn more about the book and author at K. J. Egan's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue