Monday, August 22, 2011

"The Nightmare Thief"

Meg Gardiner was born in Oklahoma and raised in Santa Barbara, California. She graduated from Stanford University and Stanford law school. She practiced law in Los Angeles and taught writing at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Gardiner now lives with her family near London.

China Lake, one of her Evan Delaney novels, won the 2009 Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Paperback Original.

The Dirty Secrets Club, featuring Jo Beckett, won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Procedural Novel of 2008.

Gardiner applied the Page 69 Test to The Nightmare Thief, her ninth novel, and reported the following:
In The Nightmare Thief, an “urban reality game” goes wrong and traps a group of college students in the Sierra Nevada wilderness, fighting for survival along with series heroine Jo Beckett. The novel’s a thriller: it features action, life-and-death danger, and relentless killers hunting down injured innocents.

And that’s what you’ll find on Page 69.

Autumn Reiniger’s twenty-first birthday “mock crime spree” is supposed to be the adventure of a lifetime. It’s a high priced version of cops and robbers, played with fast cars and fake guns on the streets of San Francisco. Edge Adventures alerts the SFPD ahead of time, so the cops can ignore the game—and any 911 calls.

And that’s exactly what some very bad people are waiting for. A criminal gang hijacks the game and grabs Autumn and her friends. They want $20 million from her wealthy father. And they’ve timed it so that the police will never suspect that the kidnapping is for real.

But their plan goes awry in a remote part of the Sierras. And when they cross paths with forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett and her boyfriend, combat medic Gabe Quintana, the game turns deadly.

Page 69 depicts the moment when the birthday dream weekend becomes a nightmare. At gunpoint the kidnappers force Jo, Gabe, and Autumn’s group into a Hummer and take off at high speed.
Von held the gun steady. “Everybody lock your hands behind your head.”

They cinched their fingers behind them. The narrow road rose up the mountainside. Friedrich accelerated. The Hummer had power, but in the altitude the engine labored. The trees whipped past. Von wiped his hand under his nose.

He gestured to Jo and Gabe. “Pockets. Empty ’em.”

They threw their phones across the limo. Von scooped them up.

He nodded at Gabe. “Back pocket too, hombre.”

Reluctantly Gabe took out his folded buck knife and slid it across the carpet to him.

“Nobody move. Not a muscle.” Von climbed over the bench seat into the driver’s compartment.

Peyton’s sobs subsided to whimpers. Autumn was shaking. “Grier.” She turned to Dustin, buried her face against his shoulder, and cried. He whispered in her ear, “Quiet.”

In the driver’s compartment, Friedrich shot Von a crazed look. “What do we do?”

“We keep driving. We get there, and then we deal with it.”

“You know that Dane’s gonna flip,” Friedrich said.

“Shut up.”

“And Sabine’s gonna have your balls for breakfast.”

Jo’s stomach was cramping. Von, Friedrich, Dane, Sabine. They were being kidnapped by the damned Trapp Family Singers.
Danger, action, a hint that under pressure Jo’s calm and possesses gallows humor—Page 69 presents a clear snapshot of what the book’s about. I certainly hope it would entice people to read on. Because a minute later a fight erupts. The Hummer wrecks. Jo, Gabe, and the kids end up trapped at the bottom of a gorge. Nobody knows where they are. They have no way to call for help. Some of the kids are badly injured. And killers are closing in on them.

And then… you have to turn the page.
Learn more about the author and her work at Meg Gardiner's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Dirty Secrets Club.

The Page 69 Test: The Memory Collector.

My Book, The Movie: Meg Gardiner's Evan Delaney series.

Writers Read: Meg Gardiner.

The Page 69 Test: The Liar's Lullaby.

My Book, The Movie: Meg Gardiner's Jo Beckett series.

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

--Marshal Zeringue