Friday, March 11, 2011

"So Close the Hand of Death"

J.T. Ellison is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Taylor Jackson series, including All the Pretty Girls, 14, Judas Kiss, The Cold Room, and The Immortals.

She applied the Page 69 Test to So Close the Hand of Death, the sixth book in the series, and reported the following:
Page 69 of So Close the Hand of Death is from the point of view of a crime blogger who is the first to realize something dreadful is happening all across the country. Colleen Keck is her name, and the blog is called FelonE. Colleen is a vital character to the story, the vehicle through which multiple plot points are tied. She popped onto the screen nearly unannounced, in an early draft, and I didn’t know the who, what or where about her. But as I got to know Colleen, a single mother whose cop husband was killed in the line of duty, I realized how important she was. Colleen holds all the keys, and if Taylor can put aside her own vengeful path for a moment, she’d see that.

In this scene, Colleen has just heard about a shooting in North Carolina, and the memories of her past and hurtled to the surface. She’s overwhelmed, but so strong, and so resourceful, that she’s able to pull herself together. I like Colleen’s character a great deal, admire her strength and resilience to go on after she’s lost her husband. She truly is the lynchpin to the story. And in a fun twist, she was named for an auction winner, so I am doubly grateful to the real Colleen Keck for allowing me such incredible license with her name.
"Update, there are seven officers involved in two separate shootings. We have a total of seven down. We need extra personnel, my location. Send out a BOLO on a black Lincoln Town Car, North Carolina plate, state owned, numbers to come. Suspects are armed and dangerous, repeat, armed and dangerous. Last seen heading west on Highway 64. Put roadblocks in place all the way out to 95. Switch to channel eighteen, code three, code three. Switching channels now." The scanner went dead. They'd switched to a private channel to avoid people like her. It wouldn't have mattered if the voice had continued, she wasn't hearing anything but the roaring in her own ears.

Oh, my God.

Colleen's breath came short, and she gagged a little, unable to resist a brief glimpse into her own hell after hearing the words officers down. Seven cops hurt in the line of duty. Seven families torn apart. Seven.

The memories assailed her anew, and she barely made it to the bathroom in time. She vomited in the sink, tears mingling with sudden beads of sweat that popped up on her forehead.

Oh, Tommy. Why did you have to leave me? Why did you have to be so freaking brave?

After a few minutes, her cries died down, and she gathered herself. She rinsed her mouth out with cool water, splashed some on her face, which managed to smear her already desiccated day-old mascara even further. She swiped furiously at the dark smears with a bit of toilet paper. Weakness was not allowed.
Learn more about the book and author at J.T. Ellison's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: the Taylor Jackson series.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue