Friday, April 29, 2011

"Among the Departed"

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most popular crime writers. The fifth book in her critically acclaimed Constable Molly Smith series set in the mountains of British Columbia is Among the Departed from Poisoned Pen Press.

Having taken early retirement from her job as a systems analyst in the high-pressure financial world, Delany is settling down to the rural life in bucolic, Prince Edward County, Ontario where she grows vegetables, eats tomatoes, shovels snow, and rarely wears a watch.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Among the Departed and reported the following:
Page 69 of Among the Departed is half a page as it’s the end of a chapter. This page tells the reader a lot about Nicky Nowak (aka Nicole Nolte) one of the point-of- view characters in the book.

Among the Departed is about how events of the past can have never-ending repercussions. It’s the fifth in the Constable Molly Smith series set in the small mountain town of Trafalgar British Columbia. Smith is a young and green and a new police officer in the town where she was born and raised. Her parents were hippies and she was christened Moonlight. Not a good name for a cop, so she now calls herself Molly.

Fifteen years ago, Molly was in grade 8. Her best friend was a girl named Nicky Nowak. Moonlight went to Nicky’s house for a sleep- over where they watched Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman on TV and listened to Alanis Morissette CDs. The next morning Nicky’s father, Brian, had breakfast with his family. Molly’s mother picked her up before the family went to church. A few hours later Brian went to the store for cigarettes.

He was never seen again.

Autumn in Trafalgar, British Columbia. A little boy leaves his family campsite in a brave hunt for bears. A police dog finds him, and something else as well. Human remains.

As the investigation into the life, and death, of Brian Nowak grows, Constable Molly Smith discovers that the years since the disappearance of Nicky’s father have not been good to her childhood friend.
“Mr. MacDonald sent me to pick up his order,” she [Nicky Nowak/Nicole Nolte] said to the clerk.

The young woman smiled. “I’ll see if it’s ready.” She went into the back and came out with a large, bulging envelope. “Here you go. I think it’s all there.” She put the envelope into a shopping bag.

Nicole thanked her, paid, and left. Outside, she peeked into the envelope. A stack of useless blank paper and a couple of baggies at the bottom each of which contained a few grams of white powder. She didn’t usually buy her own drugs - let Joey take those chances. But she wasn’t going to Trafalgar without a couple of days’ supply.

As she came out of the print shop, a car crawled past. She watched as it stopped in front of the pizza shop. The woman in the purple dress stepped out of the doorway and went up to the car. She leaned over, her flat butt sticking out, said a few words, opened the door, and climbed in. A large blue and black bruise covered most of her inside left thigh. The car pulled away with a burst of speed.

It was a black Lexus, sleek, clean, polished to a blinding shine. A child’s safety seat was mounted in the back. The hooker stared into Nicole’s eyes as they drove past.

Nicole’s whole body shuddered.

Was this what it would come to, in the end?

She went to her car and headed home. To Trafalgar.
Nicky’s life went off the rails the day her father disappeared. And now she comes home, to Trafalgar, unwittingly trailing in her wake a terrifying threat to another innocent family.
Read an excerpt from Among the Departed, and learn more about the book and author at Vicki Delany's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

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

--Marshal Zeringue