Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Storm Damage"

Ed Kovacs has worked for many years as a private security contractor deploying to challenging locations worldwide. He is a member of AFIO, Association for Intelligence Officers, the International Thriller Writers organization, and the Mystery Writers of America.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Storm Damage, and reported the following:
From page 69:
After her shift Honey joined me at Peedy’s Place, a grubby cop hang in a dismal little mini-mall on Cleary in Jefferson Parish. Peedy’s doesn’t serve food, which is probably a good thing, so I’d stopped at the Swamp Room on Veterans, which had just reopened for business, to get us “dressed” Swamp Burgers and cheese fries.

About a dozen off-duty coppers were getting hammered in Peedy’s, where a Jack and Seven cost three bucks, not the nine bucks you’d pay in the Quarter, and you could blow off steam among peers. I recognized officers from NOPD, and deputies from St. John the Baptist, St. Charles, and Plaquemines Parishes. Two female JP deputies used warped cues to shoot eight-ball on a seven foot table with dead bumpers. Four Hispanic laborers sat at a corner table nursing beers and smiling like their face muscles were frozen. They were probably very nervous illegals who realized too late they had stumbled into a cop bar.

After allowing several coppers to snake some of my fries, Honey and I focused on watching Kendall take a beating in Miami live on Spike TV. The K-1 fight wasn’t even close and ended quickly. So we hunched over the high table, returning our attention to the junk food and cheap cocktails.

“Your guy didn’t look too good. Bet I could kick his ass,” said Honey as she took a bite of her huge burger.

“You want to go pro, I’ll coach you.”

“Haven’t been in a fight since the Storm. I’m ready for one.”

“Careful what you wish for.” I had already filled her in regarding the day’s developments. She hid her disapproval of how I handled Duplessis and had no idea who Tommy Boudreaux was.

“Ever hear of Jimmy Nguyen?” she asked, licking cheese dip from her finger.

“That’s a pretty common Vietnamese name. It’s like John Smith,”
Even though a Page 69 “test” might be somewhat arbitrary, I kind of liked the idea and was happy to post my entire page 69 above for examination. Storm Damage is hard-boiled American noir, and here we find ourselves in a very noir locale, “a grubby cop hang.” My hero and heroine are present, swilling cheap drinks while eating junk food. They’re talking about fights and about the case. Their banter is indicative of their relationship and some of the dialogue gives us info about what kind of people our characters are. There is reference to the “Storm,” which of course, plays almost like a character in the book. At the bottom of the page, the dialogue leads us into some plot advancement.

So while we don’t have an action scene or a major plot point revelation, we have good setting, characterization, thematic elements and plot development. Check, check, and check. No quibble from me, but would a reader want to keep reading? There are as many possible answers to that question as there are readers, but I was humbled when Booklist compared Storm Damage to Dashiel Hammett’s Red Harvest. I think readers of crime fiction and mystery fans who like their material with a darker edge will enjoy my novel.
Learn more about the book and author at Ed Kovacs's website.

My Book, The Movie: Storm Damage.

--Marshal Zeringue