Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"The Killing Storm"

Kathryn Casey is a former magazine reporter and the author of five true crime books.

In Singularity, the first novel in Casey's Sarah Armstrong mystery series, Texas Ranger/profiler Sarah tracks a delusional serial killer. In Blood Lines, the second novel in the series, she investigates two cases: a questionable suicide and the stalking of a teen pop star.

Casey applied the Page 69 Test to The Killing Storm, the third Sarah Armstrong mystery, and reported the following:
A hurricane threatens Houston, and a young boy vanishes from a park, a four-year-old named Joey Warner. FBI agent David Garrity asks Texas Ranger/profiler Sarah Armstrong to the scene. The clues aren’t coming together, and he needs her help. Nothing makes sense. Joey’s mother, Crystal, isn’t acting as one would expect, and the boy’s father has warned that his estranged wife is always interested in only one thing: money.

Shadowing the following passage from p.69 of the book is the knowledge that if Joey isn’t found before the hurricane strikes, it will be too late.
Spying David, I walked up behind him, then tapped him on the shoulder. He looked terrible. The kid had been missing for going on eighteen hours, and I didn’t doubt that David had suffered every minute of it.

“Sarah,” he said, and despite his fatigue, he managed a smile. “Thanks. More than I can say, this is appreciated.”

“Dive team searching?”

“Yeah, but they’re running into problems,” he said. “The bottom’s muddy and the water’s murky, nearly opaque. We’re talking about dredging, bringing in the hooks.”

That made sense, of course. If the kid was in the pond, he wasn’t alive. “I hope you don’t find him, not here, not dead,” I said, feeling a rush of incredible sadness. “I hope this isn’t the way it ends.”
As she and David talk, Sarah learns that he has little more information than when they met the night before. The outlook is bleak. Further complicating the situation, Joey’s mother is stirring up publicity, publicly blaming police for not recovering her son.

Sarah’s frustrated. She wants to help David, but she’s only on loan for a few hours. She has a high-profile case of her own to solve, one galvanizing the Texas ranching world; someone is slaughtering prizewinning longhorns and drawing cryptic symbols on their hides, signs that point back to a time of sugar plantations and slavery.

How does Page 69 reflect The Killing Storm?

These passages lay the groundwork for much of what is to come by revealing the frustrations both David and Sarah experience tackling a highly emotional case. It also gives insight into their relationship; Sarah is in love with David, but what are his feelings toward her?

In the end, Sarah will piece together evidence leading to an eerie connection between the slaughtered bulls and the boy’s disappearance, but only as the hurricane bears down on Houston. Will the clues form a complete picture quickly enough for Sarah to save the child? That will take the rest of the book to discover.
Read the first three chapters of The Killing Storm, and learn more about the book and author at Kathryn Casey's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Singularity.

The Page 99 Test: Blood Lines.

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

--Marshal Zeringue