Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Our Lady of Immaculate Deception"

Nancy Martin is the author of nearly 50 pop fiction novels including the Blackbird Sisters Mystery Series. She serves on the board of Sisters in Crime and received the 2009 Romantic Times magazine Lifetime Achievement award for mystery writing. Her new mystery series debuts with Our Lady of Immaculate Deception, which has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. One blurb calls the book “a good time in a bad neighborhood.”

Martin applied the Page 69 Test to Our Lady of Immaculate Deception and reported the following:
How clever of you to choose Page 69. It comes after the set-up of every good story, doesn’t it? And starts the reader into a section of the book that’s less about plot, more about theme. Page 69 of Our Lady of Immaculate Deception is the first lull in the action of this mystery-thriller hybrid, as Roxy Abruzzo goes for a morning run with her old high school friend (and former track star) who’s now a physician, Adasha Washington, one of the few characters who knows what’s truly in Roxy’s heart. This passage isn’t particularly witty, but it shows my preference for using dialogue instead of long chunks of narrative to tell the story. It also demonstrates that Roxy isn’t everything the reader has seen before—the bad girl with a big mouth and a pitbull to back her up. I wanted Roxy to be a new kind of mystery protagonist. Page 69 shows a different layer to her character.

Page 69:
Roxy only hoped she could keep up for the first couple of miles. After that, there was no use trying. But Roxy met her old friend several times a week, and it wasn’t just the exercise that was good for them.

When they reached the river, running smoothly in the same rhythm, and started on the path upstream toward the old Heinz food plant, Adasha said, “I had a patient last night who could use your special brand of TLC.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“A girl whose live-in boyfriend beats her up. She needs a fresh start. A place to live for a while, maybe some help getting a new job.”

“Why didn’t you call Social Services? Sounds like a case right up their alley.”

“Her boyfriend’s another doc. He could snoop the records and find out her whereabouts. I think he’s liable to go after her again. The present situation is toxic, and normal channels just don’t cut it. So I thought maybe you could find her an apartment—a place she could hide until she gets her shit together.”

“How much time to I have?”

“Five days is my best guess. Plenty of time, right? She’ll be in ICU for two, on a step-down floor for three or four days after that. Maybe longer if we find previous injuries that require care.”

“Jesus. What did he beat her with?”

“A crockpot to the head, then a meat tenderizer to the bones of her face.”

Roxy quelled the emotion that roiled inside herself. It was the kind of story she should be used to by now. “He in jail?”

“Hell, no, he’s some kind of hero in orthopedics. Rescues professional athletes from career-ending injuries. We wouldn’t want a Superman like that to spoil his reputation now, would we? His girlfriend, on the other hand, is expendable as far as the bosses can see.”

“I think I know a place she could crash for a while. And one of the neighbors is a nurse. Meanwhile, somebody needs to end his career.”

“I’m working on it,” Adasha said, and she sprinted ahead to a foot bridge on the path.
Read an excerpt from Our Lady of Immaculate Deception, and visit Nancy Martin's website and blog.

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

--Marshal Zeringue