Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Dead Write"

Like her Forensic Handwriting Mysteries series (Penguin/Obsidian) character, Claudia Rose, Sheila Lowe is a real-life court-qualified handwriting expert who testifies in handwriting-related cases. She's a frequent guest in the media when there are interesting handwritings to comment on, such as a recent Dateline NBC, discussing the Clark Rockefeller case. She is also the author of the bestselling Complete Idiot's Guide to Handwriting Analysis, and Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous, as well as the award-winning Sheila Lowe's Handwriting Analyzer software.

She applied the “Page 69 Test” to Dead Write, the new Claudia Rose mystery, and reported the following:
I'd never heard of the Page 69 test, but turning to page 69 of Dead Write was an eye-opening exercise. There, revealed, was the truth about handwriting expert Claudia Rose's assignment in New York. It's an unsettling revelation that makes Claudia want to turn around and head back to the West Coast on the next flight out.

Her new client, Baroness Grusha Olinetsky, a high-priced matchmaker, has brought Claudia to the Big Apple, claiming that her previous handwriting expert made some serious mistakes. What Olinetsky failed to reveal was that those mistakes had led to the unfortunate deaths of several of her clients. On page 69, Claudia begins to uncover information that reveals the far more serious implications of those deaths. It suddenly becomes clear to her that there's a darker motive behind her client's urgent desire to get her on a plane.

Struggling with her own demons, which include dealing with the recent violent death of a friend (in Written in Blood), Claudia isn't interested in getting involved in another sinister situation. But then her personal life intrudes and changes her outlook.

Dead Write, page 69:

As she skimmed through photos that had been shot at a charity fund-raiser the year before, her gaze caught on another familiar figure at the black tie event: Grusha Olinetsky, recognizable, despite platinum blonde hair, rather than her current jet black, but twisted into the same French roll she still favored.

Pear-shaped diamonds dangled from her ears and glittered across her throat. A clingy gold lamé strapless gown showed off pale shoulders. Grusha's gloved arm was tucked possessively through Bernard's and his hand covered hers.

Claudia clicked the back button and paged through some of the other links without finding anything of interest. What she had discovered about Ryan Turner and Shellee Jones left her with the almost certain knowledge that she had been duped into coming here. She went and poured herself a glass of tap water from the bathroom faucet and downed a vitamin.

What game is Grusha playing with me?

It was a question Claudia intended to ask her client. But first, she would keep the appointments that Sonya had made for her with the club's doctors. She would glean whatever information she could arm herself with before the inevitable confrontation with Grusha Olinetsky.

Returning to the laptop, she tried one last search, this time on John Shaw, whose file was the last in the pile. But even with the additional demographics she entered, the name was too common to bring up anything useful.

Maybe no news is good news for him, she thought, contemplating the array of perplexing information she had accumulated so far:

Ten fancy leather file folders, three dead clients.
Read an excerpt from Dead Write, and learn more about the book and author at the Claudia Rose Forensic Handwriting Mysteries series website.

My Book, The Movie: Sheila Lowe's Written in Blood and Poison Pen.

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

--Marshal Zeringue