Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Trail of Blood"

Lisa Black spent the five happiest years of her life in a morgue, working as a forensic scientist in the trace evidence lab until her husband dragged her to southwest Florida. Now she toils as a certified latent print analyst and CSI at the local police department by day and writes forensic suspense by night. Her books have also been published in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain and Japan.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Trail of Blood, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Trail of Blood may not be a microcosm of the book but it does give a quick essence of the plot, the setting (Cleveland, Ohio) and my main character, forensic scientist Theresa MacLean. She is responding to a call at the annual Cleveland Air Show, a Labor Day weekend extravaganza of power and grace on the shores of Lake Erie. In a few sentences we learn that the city, with its battered self-esteem, isn’t too concerned about security on an everyday basis but it has been ramped up due to the large amount of military aircraft at the show.
And so the Port Authority officer had been policing the perimeter on foot when he discovered the girl’s body. Or rather, part of it. He stared at it for a long time, that completely obvious yet somehow indecipherable object. Then the officer took out his radio, called his supervisor, and said a silent prayer of thanks that the piled stones sloped downward to the water and therefore the body or part of a body lay just below the line of sight from the bleachers. There were a hundred thousand spectators on the south side of the tarmac. At least half of them carried binoculars.

Theresa had attended the show in exactly two of her (almost) forty years. She wondered if this visit counted as number three, though they didn’t enter the show, only skirted around it down a small access road between the runways and the water.
Through this and the rest of the page, we see that Theresa is approaching the big 4-0 and that she is not at all concerned about approaching this mangled corpse which has so unsettled the officer. It turns out she is more concerned about moving around active runways. Theresa has been in forensics too long to be freaked out by dead bodies, but long enough to have learned to put safety first. There are too many ways to die and she’s not looking to try any out.

Unfortunately we don’t meet any other characters on this page and we will not see the unnamed Port Authority officer again. Theresa’s cousin, homicide detective Frank Patrick, will arrive shortly.

What even Theresa does not immediately realize is that this dismembered body is only the first volley fired across their bow by a psychotic who wishes to see history repeat itself. The dead woman is a replica of the first victim attributed to the Torso Killer—an unknown, never-caught, true-life murderer who terrorized Depression-era Cleveland over seventy-five years ago. Theresa had just found an apparent victim of his walled up in an abandoned building, and for a few chapters we travel back to see an earlier version of Cleveland through his eyes.

To sum up: on page 69, the battle between Theresa and this new killer begins in earnest. And that battle will get personal.
View the video trailer for Trail of Blood, learn more about the book and author at Lisa Black's website.

My Book, The Movie: Trail of Blood.

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

--Marshal Zeringue