He applied the Page 69 Test to The Ragged End of Nowhere, his debut novel, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Ragged End of Nowhere finds the protagonist, Bodo Hagen, sitting in a Las Vegas hotel room. It is morning. He picks up the phone and places a call. To Paris, France.Read an excerpt from The Ragged End of Nowhere, and learn more about the novel at the publisher's website.
Hagen has only recently returned to his hometown after an absence of ten years. He came back to bury his only brother, who was murdered out at Hoover Dam. It seems that his brother possessed a wooden artifact with a curious provenance that he called the Dead Man’s Hand. He was trying to sell it when he died.
Hagen sets out to find his brother’s killer. But first he has to learn what the Dead Man’s Hand is, where it is, and why certain people want it. Maybe badly enough to murder his brother for it.
The phone call to Paris is intended to establish the bona fides of a Frenchwoman who Hagen met the night before. She has only just arrived in Las Vegas herself. She claims to work for a firm based in Paris that buys and sells rare artifacts. She also claims have known his brother, and wonders if Hagen might know the whereabouts of the Dead Man’s Hand.
It is early evening in Paris.
A man answers the phone.
The man’s manner is gruff but his answers seem genuine. After a short conversation, Hagen decides that the story the Frenchwoman gave him might be less farfetched than it had sounded at first.
But that doesn’t mean Hagen can trust her.
Trust is in short supply in the Las Vegas that Hagen has come home to.
Although Page 69 of The Ragged End of Nowhere is a relatively quiet page, Hagen’s suspicions about the Frenchwoman describe exactly the problem that Hagen is faced with throughout the novel. Hagen is surrounded by a rogue’s gallery of people who all want the Dead Man’s Hand. And they want it on their terms. But no one is who they seem. And it is up to Hagen to unravel the complicated web of intrigues surrounding the mysterious relic, before his brother’s killer decides to get rid of Hagen too. It is this edgy give-and-take between the protagonist and a cast of lively and deadly characters that led Booklist to call The Ragged End of Nowhere “a wildly entertaining tale.”
The Ragged End of Nowhere won the the 2008 Tony Hillerman Prize for best debut mystery set in the American Southwest.
Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.