Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"The Devil's Ribbon"

D.E. Meredith read English at Cambridge, then ran the press office and the land mines campaign for the Red Cross, travelling extensively to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Rwanda during the conflicts. She worked as a consultant on media relations for Greenpeace and other worthy causes before embarking on "The Hatton and Roumande Mysteries" series for St Martin's Press (Devoured, October 2010, The Devil's Ribbon, October 2011).

She applied the Page 69 Test to The Devil's Ribbon and reported the following:
From Page 69:
He’d be angry with her and she’d only kiss him and tell him, “It’s of no matter, Addy. A hundred years ago. All forgiven and forgotten.”

He should have headed his father’s warning.

The accusation came on the brow of a hill. Eddy Stoates had come out of nowhere, red faced, spitting, “That Irish bitch of yours is stealing. Her whole family is. Our milks gone sour, the hens ain’t laying, my Ma’s silver brush has been taken from the dresser.”

Eddy Stoates was leering at her. “So, what have you got to say for yourself? But I’ll let you off a thrashing, if you give me whatever your givin’ Addy Hatton, here...”

Hatton rounded on him saying he would give him a pummelling if he didn’t take every word back and for good measure, Mary said, “He’ll not be bothering me, Addy. Pogue mahone, Stoat face...”

“Irish bitch”

Addy was quick, running at Eddy Stoates, levelling him, his fists raised for more, “Apologise, right now -”

Mary was quicker, laughing her head off and grabbing some itchy hay, sticking it down the boy’s shirt and calling him a scarecrow. “That’ll teach you a lesson.” The boy kicked her and wrestled himself free and slunk off, “You’ll pay for this...”

Addy brushed himself down, “Are you alright, Mary? He didn’t hurt you, did he?”

She smiled, “In Troid e an Saol! Life’s a fight, Addy. We saw him off though, didn’t we?”

If only he had seen her home, back to the bosom of her family but after talking for a while, he gave Mary a farewell kiss and left her on the path. He had studying to do, he said. September loomed and his Pa had finally raised the capital for boarding school. “Of course you must go,” she squeezed his hand. “Grab this opportunity with both hands, Addy. You can be whatever you want.”

“I want to be a doctor. To study science, chemistry, anatomy and go to Edinburgh, where the best work is done.”
Well, well, well. How very interesting. This is a flash back moment when Hatton is remembering his first love because she reminds him of the murdered MP’s wife – Sorcha McCarthy. This tiny moment shines a light on why Hatton becomes a forensic scientist in the first place (If only he had seen her home, back to the bosom of her family), his humble background, his passion for right and wrong, his relationship with his father, with women and these are major drivers for The Devil's Ribbon and his troubled character so I’d say Page 69 and what its hinting at, lies at the very heart of the book. Would the reader read on? Yes, I think they would because there’s some romance, a drama, unfinished business, a future longing (his wish to be a doctor), a fight (!!!) and an over-riding sense of brooding menace. Eddie Stoates isn’t just going to slope off, after that humiliation, is he?

Only one bit missing here, I guess in that we don’t get to meet Monsieur Albert Roumande (his very able “Assistant” and dear friend) but we do learn “In Troid e an Saol! Life’s a fight, Addy. We saw him off though, didn’t we?” And that slightly beleaguered, then To-Hell-With-It spirit, is very central to the relationship between Hatton and Roumande and the narrative drive. I think this is a great snap shot for the book.
Learn more about the book and author at Denise Meredith's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue