Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Caveat Emptor"

Ruth Downie is the author of the New York Times bestselling Medicus, Terra Incognita, and Persona Non Grata.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Caveat Emptor, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Caveat Emptor is the start of a chapter, so the reader only gets half a page here – but I’ll stick to the rules and see what’s to be found in 19 lines.

It’s dark outside. Ruso, a Roman medic compelled to investigate a murder, has just arrived home after interviewing a witness. He’s greeted by ‘the ominous strains of Tilla singing the sort of song she sang to relieve the boredom of cooking.’

He finds his wife, a native Briton, busy dismembering a chicken in a way that demonstrates her familiarity with very sharp knives. Tilla has spent the day caring for the widow of the murder victim and the now-fatherless baby, who is asleep under the kitchen table.

Having suffered a great deal of (and from) his wife’s cooking, Ruso points out that it’s late and, ‘We could get something brought in.’

Tilla brushes his offer aside with the promise to ‘boil it very fast’ – an approach that even Ruso must know won’t turn out well – and instead she asks him about the murder investigation.

Page 69 offers a snapshot of the relationship that underpins the series. The presence of the baby is a constant theme throughout this book: Tilla, identifying with the mother and desperate for a child of her own, will later ignore her husband’s warnings and take unacceptable risks to seek justice for the bereaved family.

Tonight, though, exactly as she hopes, Ruso is too preoccupied with murder and hunger to ask the pertinent question of where that chicken came from. And as usual, when Tilla tells him the truth, he will wish he didn’t know.
Learn more about the book and author at Ruth Downie's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue