Thursday, March 1, 2012

"Fifth Victim"

Zoë Sharp is the author of the Charlie Fox series of crime thrillers which have been twice nominated for the Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel.

Sharp applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Fifth Victim and reported the following:
Fifth Victim finds Charlie Fox bodyguarding Dina, the wayward daughter of rich Long Island businesswoman, Caroline Willner. A number of Dina’s social circle have been through kidnap ordeals, and Charlie quickly discovers that the girl seems fascinated by the clique formed by the ex-victims.

Page 69 is the last half-page of chapter nine in both the UK and US editions, so I didn’t even have any regional variation to play with. As such, it’s a fairly brief section of a scene, but part of an important one. At a lavish birthday party for billionaire’s son, Torquil Eisenberg, Charlie hopes to meet the former kidnap victims Dina seems so enamoured of – Orlando, Benedict and Manda. To avoid any awkward questions Charlie has been introduced as a family friend, which works out fine until she’s forced to tackle the birthday boy to prevent him getting out of hand with her principal. Dina and Charlie are being hustled out by security when Manda and Benedict make their grand entrance. They seem dismayed to find Dina leaving…

From Page 69:
“I’m real sorry, Manda,” [Dina] said hastily. “But I don’t want to spoil Torquil’s birthday, so we’ll—”

“Oh, that’s so sweet of you,” Manda interrupted. “Well, honey, our limo’s still here. Tell you what, why don’t the three of us go find somewhere to have a drink? Tor won’t mind if we skip out, I’m sure.”

But it didn’t take an expert in body language to tell that Tor did mind. He minded like hell.

The two security men he’d sent to escort us out were hovering with their mouths open, unsure what to do next. The other partygoers who’d received their special invitations had emerged from the yacht club and were closing fast on their way to the Eisenberg liner…

Torquil must have known that for Benedict and Manda to leave now, so soon after arriving and with Dina so publicly in tow, would be the ultimate humiliation. He only had one realistic option, but that didn’t mean he had to like it.

“It would spoil the party if you left, Dina,” he said, with an almost credible attempt at sincerity. “Stay.” I’m sure it was only shock that made her keep him waiting for a response, but he flushed at her silence and added through clenched teeth. “Please.”

“I … er … yes,” Dina said faintly. “Of course. Thank you, Torquil.”

He glared at her. “Don’t mention it,” he said, his tone ominous. His gaze swung to me. “But your friend still needs to leave.”
Learn more about the author and her work at Zoë Sharp's website.

The Page 69 Test: Third Strike.

--Marshal Zeringue