Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Law & Disorder"

Mary Jane Maffini is the author of three mystery series and a number of short stories.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Law & Disorder, the latest Camilla MacPhee mystery, and reported the following:
People die in mysteries. That’s the attraction of the genre and one that helps the authors through the rougher patches of life, fictional and otherwise. Cut us off in traffic and you’ll find yourself dead on a page before you know it. Trust me. So I would have been disappointed if all was sweetness and light on page 69 of Law & Disorder, the sixth book in the Camilla MacPhee series. But no danger of that: Camilla, Ottawa lawyer, victims’ advocate and occasional pain in the butt, is having a cozy chat with a reporter friend about the recently deceased defense hack, Rollie Thorsten. By the end of the first paragraph it’s obvious that she’s not heartbroken and no one else is. When the chief suspect is introduced, along with his seemingly unshakeable alibi, really, I felt a little thrill.

After my initial worry that the page would fizzle like a damp firecracker, I cheered up when I hit the second paragraph. It gives a sense of Camilla’s personality and the relationships she has with people, a bit of banter and a glimpse of Alvin Ferguson, the world’s worst – or at least most challenging – office assistant, currently converting Camilla’s upstairs office into a guest room. Ray Deveau is the man in Camilla’s life and his daughters are arriving to participate in the Dragon Boat Races. Of course, it had been agreed that Alvin would not paint anything else – some residual annoyance over the Italian frescos in the previous book, The Dead Don’t Get Out Much. But veterans of the series will not be taken in by that.

Alvin isn’t much for beige. His argument is: “It needed brightening.”

I was proud of Camilla for her measured response: “Well, it’s certainly bright now. You know, I never would have considered Chinese Red myself.”

How calm is that? You’d hardly guess she was in the middle of investigating a gruesome murder while trying not to think of the arrival of two teenage girls who keep trying to sabotage her relationship.

Over all, I’m pleased, although I wish there could have been a lawyer joke like the one that Camilla received the day Rollie Thorsten landed in the Rideau River aerated by a pair of bullets:

How do you keep a lawyer from drowning?

Shoot him before he hits the water.

There’s not a joke in sight. But then, you can’t have everything.
Watch the video trailer for Law & Disorder, and learn more about the author and her work at Mary Jane Maffini's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Mary Jane Maffini & Daisy and Lily.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue