Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Wake Up Dead"

Roger Smith was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and now lives in Cape Town, a city as violent as it is beautiful. Before turning to a life of crime, he was a screenwriter, producer and director. His debut thriller, Mixed Blood, is in development as a feature film starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Smith applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Wake Up Dead, and reported the following:
South Africa is a society still divided by race, and increasingly, wealth. Predatory crimes like home invasions and carjackings bridge that divide, with violent collisions between the privileged suburbs and the ghettoes, incidents so commonplace that they often don’t even make the local news. What fascinates me is to look beyond the statistics, to get into the people who are flung together by these violent events, and the impact on their lives.

When Roxy Palmer – Wake Up Dead’s blonde American anti-heroine – and her South African arms dealer husband, Joe, are gunpointed and carjacked one night on the slopes of Cape Town’s spectacular Table Mountain, the ex-model uses the opportunity to do a bad, bad thing.

As she stands over her husband’s body and watches Disco and Godwynn, the two mixed-race carjackers, speed off in Joe’s convertible toward the Cape Flats – the crime-ridden ghetto far from tourist-mecca Cape Town – she’s sure she’ll never see them again.

Wrong. The cops track them down and get Roxy into a line-up. She recognizes the men, but pretends not to, to keep the heat off herself. Beautiful Disco and ugly Godwynn, though, see an opportunity for blackmail and they grab Roxy when she’s out jogging and bring her home with a gun to her head. On Page 69 she is alone with them in her house, the air heavy with threats of rape and murder.
Mr Handsome looked around. “Nice place you got here.” Like he was an invited guest.

The short man was up in her face. “Where’s your room?”

Roxy pointed up the stairs. He shoved her forward, and she led them up past the pink room, to her bedroom.

The troll said, “You got a girl?”

At first she thought he was asking if she had a child. Then she realized he was talking about a domestic worker. She shook her head. “She’s on vacation.”

The beautiful man laughed. “I can see that.”

The bedroom was a mess, the bed unmade, clothes strewn across the room. She had never been much for housework.

The short man grabbed a couple of pairs of tights that hung from the back of a chair and chucked them at his buddy. “Tie up her hands and feet.”

“I have to pee,” she said.

“Piss in your pants.”

“Please. Let me use the bathroom.”

Mr Handsome, walking over with the tights in his hand, smiled at her. “Let her take a piss, man. I watch her.” Something filthy in that smile.

“I take her,” said the squat man. “You start checking through the closets.”

He pushed her toward the en-suite bathroom. Stood in the doorway, watching her. Roxy knew he wasn’t going anywhere. She sat down on the toilet and pulled down the lycra pants. Doing her best to keep herself covered.
So, karma catches up with Roxy on Page 69, and the illusion of security afforded by her wealth and skin color evaporates. A perfect distillation of the theme of Wake Up Dead.
Watch the video for Wake Up Dead and read an excerpt from the novel.

Learn more about the book and author at Roger Smith's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue