Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Dying Gasp"

Leighton Gage has been a copywriter, an advertising creative director, a magazine editor, and a writer/producer/director of documentary films and industrial videos.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Dying Gasp, his third novel in the Chief Inspector Mario Silva series, and reported the following:
As regular readers to this site know, a book neither passes, nor fails, the Page 69 Test. The Test isn’t about scoring, it’s about matching readers with authors, and by golly, the instrument has just proved its efficacy once again. Five lines down, on page 69 of Dying Gasp, I find this:

“Someone who casually strangles a woman, then cuts her head off with an axe...”

Suppose you’re in a bookstore, browsing, and you read that fragment of a sentence. What are you likely to do? I’d wager you have three options:
1. You keep on reading.
2. You hustle Dying Gasp to the check-out.
3. You re-shelve the book - and go on looking for a cozy.
The line is plucked out of a conversation between Chief Inspector Mario Silva and his superior, Nelson Sampaio, the Director of the Brazilian Federal Police. Sampaio, a political appointee, knows little about law enforcement – and doesn’t care to learn. Line 14: “I don’t want an explanation. I just want to know how long.” (By which he means how long it’s going to take to find the perpetrator.)

There is, of course, no answer to that question. Asking questions for which there are no answers is somewhat a specialty of the director’s. He’s a very annoying man.

The victim, the true subject of their discussion, is not the woman who’s lost her head. It is, rather, a kidnapped girl, the granddaughter of an important politician. Sampaio wants her recovered so he can look good. Silva wants her recovered because he fears something horrible will happen if she isn’t. He senses they have little time. Line 22: “And time,” the director said, “is something we’re running out of.”

It is the sole instance in the book where Sampaio and Silva are in complete agreement.
Read an excerpt from Dying Gasp, and learn more about the author and his work at Leighton Gage's website and the Murder is Everywhere blog.

The Page 69 Test: Blood of the Wicked.

My Book, The Movie: Buried Strangers.

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

--Marshal Zeringue