Sunday, January 31, 2010

"City of Dragons"

Kelli Stanley is the author of the critically acclaimed Nox Dormienda, which won the Bruce Alexander Award for best historical mystery and was nominated for a Macavity Award. She lives in San Francisco, California.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, City of Dragons, and reported the following:
Miranda took two steps at a time, holding her hand against the wood shutting her out. “I think you do.”

The woman looked at her again. “Who are you?”

“I’m the woman who found Eddie. I was with him when he died.”

The woman met her eyes. This time she nodded. She opened the door, and Miranda stepped over the threshold into another small, dark foyer. It was as clean as the Braeburn but claustrophobic, with cherry-wood furniture and altar incense burning behind a lacquered screen.

“I get them.”

She walked up the narrow stairway, her small feet soundless. Miranda heard a knock, and then several voices, raised in discussion, speaking Japanese.

Time to meet the Takahashis.
So concludes page 69 and Chapter 7 of City of Dragons, at least in my advanced readers copy. This slice represents a couple of motifs that are central to the novel … PI Miranda Corbie’s tenacity in pursuing justice for the dead numbers runner, Eddie Takahashi, and her odyssey through 1940 San Francisco, from a Chinatown soda fountain called Fong Fong to Laurel Heights Cemetery to a high class bordello on Grant Avenue—where Miranda once worked as an escort.

There are other issues, too, of course—the tensions between Chinese-Americans and Japanese-Americans during the Sino-Japanese War and the aftermath of the Rape of Nanking … the casual racism and taken-for-granted brutality of the era. The ugliness that existed side by side with Benny Goodman jazz and Art Deco architecture and that breathtaking urban siren known as San Francisco.

I’ve tried to make City of Dragons a fresh take on classic noir … 1940 without the censorship of the era, and with a femme fatale as the hero rather than the villain. It’s both an homage and, I hope, an original … as is Miranda, former Spanish Civil War nurse, ex-escort, and now private eye.

She’s also a native San Franciscan. And on page 69, she’s entering a city she’s never known.
Read an excerpt from City of Dragons, and learn more about the novel and author at Kelli Stanley's website and blog.

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

--Marshal Zeringue