Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"City of Secrets"

The first book in Kelli Stanley's Miranda Corbie series, City of Dragons, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was also named one of the 2010 Top Ten Mystery Thrillers by Oline Cogdill and one of the Top Ten Best Fiction by Bay Area Authors by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Stanley applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, City of Secrets, and reported the following:
From Page 69:
The phone woke her at nine. She groped for it, tongue thick.


Heart was beating too hard, slowed down at Rick’s voice.

“Miranda? Did I wake you up?”

She struggled to sit up, rubbed her eyes. “What is it?”

“I can’t talk long— called you before writing the story— you owe me—”

“Get to the fucking point!”

“They’ve made an arrest— for both murders.”

She swung her legs over the side of the bed. Fully awake.

“Was it Kaiser?”

Rick paused, News typewriters in the background drumming like Krupa.“No, not Kaiser. Someone else who likes to beat up on women.”

“Who the hell—”

“Your old friend. Ex- inspector Duggan. Arrested early this morning— no bail.”

She said good- bye to Rick, shock making the words perfunctory and pleasant. Hung up the phone. Stared at the forget- me- nots on the wallpaper, periwinkle blue.

Gonzales. Gonzales told her Duggan had been demoted.

After the Takahashi case. After her bruises healed.

She was still staring at the phone when it rang again. Her hand hesitated before picking it up.
The Miranda Corbie novels are built on a classical five-act structure, and page 69 marks the beginning of Act II. Dialog propels quick action and unexpected revelations, but the novel is actually much more a mixture of staccato beats and longer, lyrical exposition, so this page isn’t typical in terms of style.

What is typical, however, is Miranda’s personality: her anxiety, her impatience, her involvement and her passion for justice. We also see characters from City of Dragons ... reporter and friend Rick Sanders, and the unexpected mention of ex-Inspector Gerald Duggan.

In City of Secrets, Miranda tackles America fascists, becomes embroiled in the ugly and brutal reality of American eugenics, and stalks an anti-Semitic killer of women through 1940 San Francisco and the rural Napa Valley.

Along the way, she risks more than her life to find the murderer of Pandora Blake.
Learn more about the book and author at Kelli Stanley's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: City of Dragons.

My Book, the Movie: City of Secrets.

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

--Marshal Zeringue