Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"The Four Stages of Cruelty"

Keith Hollihan worked as a business analyst and ghostwriter before publishing his first novel. Born in Canada, he has traveled widely and lived in Japan and the Czech Republic. He now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Four Stages of Cruelty, and reported the following:
On page 69, my narrator, a female corrections officer named Kali Williams, is alone in an abandoned cell beneath the maximum security prison, searching for a missing inmate.
My voice was deadened by the thickness of the stone. Before me was a pitch-black hallway. Shining my flashlight along the floor, I saw angled shapes like craggy rocks and realized that the entire hallway was cluttered with garbage.... My breath came rapidly, and I tried not to imagine larger shapes in the darkness flitting off whenever I moved my flashlight beam away. Some of the doors were shut; others were angled out of their rooms in disordered fashion like a series of unmade beds. I moved an inch forward and stopped. Anything could be down there. It would be better if I checked each cell in turn.
This is the book’s high-gothic moment, and it’s pretty evident that nothing good will come from the curiosity that drew Kali into the abandoned area. Overall, the book intersperses moments of action and drama with personal anxiety, doubt and suspicion; and on page 69 the reader is getting a strong dose of the former. In terms of the plot, this descent into darkness shakes Kali’s complacency and convinces her to confront the corruption and conspiracy she has been trying to ignore. It’s a key scene.
Read an excerpt from The Four Stages of Cruelty, and learn more about the book and author at Keith Hollihan's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue