Friday, December 9, 2011

"A Perilous Conception"

Larry Karp grew up in Paterson, NJ and New York City. He practiced perinatal medicine (high-risk pregnancy care) and wrote general nonfiction books and articles for 25 years, then, in 1995, he left medical work to begin a second career, writing mystery novels. The backgrounds and settings of Karp's mysteries reflect many of his interests, including musical antiques, medical-ethical issues, and ragtime music.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, A Perilous Conception, and reported the following:
Here's most of Page 69 of A Perilous Conception. The speaker is Police Detective Bernie Baumgartner, who's talking to locksmith/lockpicker/sidekick Irwin McKeesport ("Iggy the Key") in Iggy's lock shop. Bernie wants Iggy's help in opening a wooden box the detective had found among the possessions of a person who had disappeared.

The selection below represents a key (so to speak) point in Baumgartner's investigation. What he finds in the box will be of major importance as he carries his probe forward. There is also a reminder that the detective is obligated to work quietly, since influential people are trying to get the case closed quickly, with no embarrassment to the University.
I set the wooden box on the table in front of him.

The little guy had you-gotta-be-kidding-me all over his face. He jabbed a finger at the box. "Mr. B, I gotta say, I don't believe this. You need the help of a professional to get this piece of shit open?"

"I could crack it with a knife blade, or stomp it into splinters, Ig. But I've got no idea what's inside, and whatever it is, I want to find it in the right number of pieces. And I need to have the job done very privately."

Doubt spread over Iggy's mug. "It ain't gonna blow up on me, is it?"

"I shrugged. No idea what's in there. Tell you what. Get me a key, then stand back, and I'll open it."

He marched off, not another word, down the stairs into the basement. Not three minutes later, he was back, holding up two flat keys. "If at least one of these don't do the job, I'll eat that box." He slid the first key into the slot, wiggled it, twisted his wrist. "Close." Then he withdrew the key ever so slightly, and worked it gently back and forth. "I can feel...yeah." The key spun 180 degrees. He threw the lid open.

We gawked into the box, then at each other. "Dip me in shit," Iggy whispered. He chugged out from behind the counter, threw the lock on his front door, turned the cardboard sign to CLOSED, and pulled down the shade behind it. Then he came running back to stand beside me and rubberneck over the box.
Learn more about the book and author at Larry Karp's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: A Perilous Conception.

--Marshal Zeringue