Sunday, October 4, 2009

"The Test"

Patricia Gussin is a physician who grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and practiced in Philadelphia. She is also the author of Shadow of Death, Thriller Award nominee for “Best First Novel,” and Twisted Justice.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new thriller, The Test, and reported the following:
The Test is about moral values and greed and good and evil.

Here’s what happens. The late Paul Parnell, a billionaire philanthropist, stipulates in his Will that his children – we thought there were five, but a sixth emerges on the scene – must pass a family values test to inherit a share of his huge estate. They are given one year to change their lives for the better. Among the six children are a U.S. senator, a tree grower, a mother of eight, a celebrity vocalist, a medical student, and a drug addict former model.

Which one of these is featured on Page 69? Tada! It the tree grower, Dan Parnell, the oldest of the six siblings.

Dan’s life is empty. He has not basked in the Parnell money. He’s avoided the family and lives in modest obscurity in Lantana, Florida, the hard working owner of a palm tree farm.

Dan dutifully attends his father’s funeral, but after the unorthodox will is read, he has no intention of adjusting his life in any way as he has no interest in the money. But Dan’s life is about to take a dramatic turn for the better when he is reunited with his former wife.

Dan’s siblings are not so lucky. Some will not live through the year of The Test when a psychopath inserts himself into the fabric of the family. Publishers Weekly compares The Test to TV’s Dynasty and to Sidney Sheldon novels and concludes with, “The plot takes a number of terrifying turns before Gussin reveals the answer”… to The Test.

Here’s The Test content on Page 69:

As Dan drove across Alligator Alley on Easter morning, he could still see it in his mind’s eye, their tiny two room apartment in Miami. How he and Gina had to rearrange the cheap living room furniture to allow for the two cribs. How the walls were so thin, and how worried they were that the babies would keep their neighbors awake. How it had all come to an end. The air conditioner in his Tundra was blasting, but Dan started to sweat. Would Gina give him a second chance? He reached up to loosen his tie. Maybe he shouldn’t have worn one, but he wanted to look respectful. He cranked the air conditioning up even more. He calculated carefully when to take his last smoke, so that Gina wouldn’t smell stale tobacco on him.

Dan had returned to Lantana in January after his father’s funeral, mortified by the scene he’d made. For days, he’d simply roamed his property, talking to no one. His foreman stepped in and took over all the decisions about the trees. His only company was Lucy, his yellow lab, and Lucky, his black one. In the end, he decided to write to Gina. In that first letter, he groped to find the right words to express all the pent-up guilt, all the years of loneliness. He apologized for his embarrassing tears in Pennsylvania. He wrote of his pride, totally undeserved, in the children. About what a magnificent job she had done. He’d never been much of a writer, but the words which he’d never been able to speak poured out.

He had not expected a reply, but within a week, a thank-you note arrived. That opened the door. He wrote to Gina again, and she wrote back. And now he was on his way to her house for Easter dinner.
Learn more about the book and author at Patricia Gussin's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue