Sunday, November 6, 2011

"The Territory"

Tricia Fields lives in a log cabin on a small farm with her husband and two daughters. She was born in Hawaii, but has spent most of her life in small town Indiana where her husband is a state trooper.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her debut novel The Territory, winner of the 2010 Tony Hillerman Prize for Best First Mystery, and reported the following:
New to the Rule, I’ll admit that I expected little, but then found it applies brilliantly to my own book. Page 69 is the end of a scene that is pivotal to the plot, reveals character, and sets up crucial information regarding the murderer. In the scene below, Chief of Police Josie Gray and a fellow officer discover a tub of photographs located in the basement of a recently murdered man. The man was a 2nd Amendment proponent and leader of a group of gun fanatics called, ‘The Gunners.’

To the officers' surprise they discover nude photos of the woman who discovered the man’s body, bullet through his head, on her living room couch. The nude photographs prove critical to the investigation several hundred pages later. The scene also reveals that the murdered man had a relationship with the same Mexican cartel that the police suspect has infiltrated their small border town. This fact confirms their suspicions and will greatly impact the investigation. Beyond the plot issues, we see a vulnerability to Josie who puts up a tough public front, but who has personal issues she struggles with. She is a determined cop willing to fight the big battles, but personal relationships mystify her. In this scene, she identifies with the loneliness that she notices in another young woman. That’s a lot to ask of one page!
They found around forty pictures of Winning, mostly undressed, getting ready for bed or getting out of the shower. The pictures had obviously been taken on multiple days. One picture particularly bothered Josie. Winning stood completely naked at the kitchen counter, looking toward the window as if she heard a noise, with a shot glass held just up to her lips. Her expression was distant, the look of someone trying to deaden her loneliness through a bottle. Josie wondered what she might look like through a camera lens in the privacy of her own home at night. The thought depressed the hell out of her.

Otto pulled another manila envelope out of the green tub and dumped the pictures onto the table, then laid them out in rows. The photos all appeared to be of Gunner members at various meetings and activities.

He pointed to a picture and leaned closer to the table to examine it. “Those fellas aren’t Gunners. Look at the three men in the background, all wearing desert camouflage.”

Josie picked up the picture and studied it. Two of the men had what appeared to be automatic machine guns strapped over their shoulders, and all three appeared to Mexican.

“Bingo.” Otto clapped Josie on the back. “Now we’re getting somewhere.”
Learn more about the book and author at Tricia Fields's website and blog.

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

--Marshal Zeringue