Thursday, May 6, 2010

"The Edge of Ruin"

Irene Fleming lives in Lambertville, New Jersey, with her musician husband and their cat. Writing as Kate Gallison, she has three private eye novels and five traditional mysteries to her credit. Her Mother Lavinia Grey stories were the talk of the Episcopal Church.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Edge of Ruin, and reported the following:
The page 69 Test! This is intriguing. I had a look at page 69 of The Edge of Ruin and was startled to see that it contains material that's central to the book: the chaos of early movie-making, a hint of the sinister backstory, our last sight of the murder victim alive. Whether a casual reader who picks the book up and reads nothing but that page would get an idea of this, I couldn't say.

But the book would be much weaker without this page. Everything mentioned here becomes an important clue later on in the book, except for the lace collar, which is there to draw attention to Mary Grace and pull her into the scene, so that when she steps forward as a witness several chapters down the road, we remember where she was at the time of the murder.

Page 69 of The Edge of Ruin:
"However," Adam said, "if you'd like to work as an extra in this picture, I can probably accommodate you. Emily, see about this man's wardrobe."

"An extra? Me? No, I've come here to give you this," he said, and he thrust the manila package into Adam's hand. "It's the story of my life, sir. I believe you'll find it fascinating, and I think you'll want to make it into a moving picture. After you read it we'll talk about money. And now I'll go and have a look at your movie camera, if you don't mind. Cameras interest me."

"Not a chance," Adam said. "Emily, our friend here is an extra. He is not to go near the camera. Have you got a flannel shirt for him?"

"I've got a humdinger," Emily said. She held out the very gaudiest of the shirts she was carrying over her arm.

"Oh, no, no. No, I couldn't," Duffy said. He took a step backward, bumping into Big Ed Strawfield, who was standing right behind him now, cracking his knuckles. "No." He cast his eyes here and there, but there was no avenue of escape.

"Mr. Weiss says you're an extra," Mr. Strawfield said. "Take off your coat and put on the shirt." And so he put on the shirt, handing his checkered topcoat to Emily.

"Come this way," Adam said. He took him by one arm while Big Ed took him by the other. Between the two of them they dragged Duffy up to the front of the crowd of extras and planted him between Chalmers and Chief Watson. Emily felt a tug on her sleeve.

Mary Grace. "Oh, good, here you are. Mr. Weiss wants me to put your lace collar back. Just stand still for a moment." Emily began to pin the collar. Adam put the megaphone to his lips and called for quiet.

"But where am I supposed to be?" Mary Grace said. "Ouch."
View the trailer for The Edge of Ruin, and learn more about the book and author at Irene Fleming's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue