Monday, November 16, 2009


Eric Stone is the author of four Ray Sharp novels, including Living Room of the Dead, Grave Imports, and Flight of the Hornbill. Additionally, he wrote the non-fiction book Wrong Side of the Wall.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Shanghaied, the latest book in the Ray Sharp series, and reported the following:
On page 69, Ray Sharp is in a car with a Hong Kong cop who is a friend of his. The cop is about to quit the force and move to the Philippines. Ray’s just found the body of a Tibetan monk and is being taken in for questioning. The book takes place just after the handover of Hong Kong back to China in July 1997. The page doesn’t give much of an indication of the book as a whole, but it does give the reader something of a sense of how the setting of the book — geographic, social, cultural, economic and political — is woven into the story, as it is in all the Ray Sharp series.

Here’s the page. (It starts with Ray talking.)
“Practicing to drive in the Philippines? Does this thing have air con?”

“Maybe you’ll have better luck getting it to work than I have.”

“Okay, can we roll down the windows, open the vents, something?”

“You really want to let that air in here?” Cotterill motions out the window with his chin.

The air is foul. We’re on Nathan Road and I can hardly see the buildings by the harbor. It isn’t far. The prevailing winds whip right through the massive, mostly unregulated, industrial and agricultural hellhole that has become the Pearl River Delta to the north. They bring soot and smoke and toxic steam and pesticides and herbicides and even worse things that you can’t see, all of which hunker down over Hong Kong. It’s the fart of progress. And it’s a bad one.

“Do you mind if I put the fan on recirc?”

He shrugs. I fiddle with the controls. Nothing helps.

Cotterill rolls down the windows when we go through the cross harbor tunnel. There’s surprisingly little traffic and we can go fast enough to get some exhaust moving through the vehicle. Maybe it’s better for us than the other pollutants on the surface. Maybe.

Workers are scraping off all the “Royals” in front of “Hong Kong Police” on the headquarters building on Arsenal Street.

“They plan to replace it with “People’s,” something like that?”

“None a my concern, mate. I don’t give one wit for the wankers in Beijing, or Buckingham Palace, when it comes down to it. Why d’ya think I’m kiting off to the Philippines?”

“You Brits, no loyalty.”

“Loyal enough to my mates. Watch yourself in here. What with the new bosses and all, it could make someone’s career to bust a Yank for topping a Tibetan.”

“You think I did it?”
Read an excerpt from Shanghaied, and learn more about the book and author at Eric Stone's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue