Sunday, March 18, 2012

"Poison Flower"

Thomas Perry is the author of 20 novels including the Jane Whitefield series (Vanishing Act, Dance for the Dead, Shadow Woman, The Face Changers, Blood Money, Runner, and Poison Flower), Death Benefits, and Pursuit, the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for best novel.

He won the Edgar for The Butcher’s Boy, and Metzger’s Dog was a New York Times Notable Book.

A repeat contributor to this site, Perry applied the Page 69 Test to Poison Flower and reported the following:
Back to the page 69 test. Yes, I'm satisfied that page 69 is representative of Poison Flower, and that most readers would be intrigued enough by it to read on.

At the start of the book, Jane saves an innocent man named James Shelby by sneaking him out of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Court Building in Los Angeles. She is immediately captured by men who want Shelby to stay in custody so they can get him murdered in prison. When Jane escapes from their car, one of them shoots her in the leg. After they torture her, trying to make her reveal where Shelby will be hiding, she succeeds in escaping.

The problem on page 69 after her escape is that Jane is now wounded, burned, cut, and bruised. She's alone on foot in Las Vegas, has no money, no identification. She's wearing ill-fitting men's clothing she stole from her captors. She's exhausted, hungry, and dirty. She's being hunted by the men who hurt her and by every law-enforcement agency in the western United States. In other words, she is in a position much like her most unfortunate runners, only a bit worse.

On page 69 we see her at this low point, and watch her begin to work her way out of it. She decides to present herself as a terribly abused victim who has been abandoned after a weekend in Las Vegas, and ask for help at a battered women's center. She knows they'll help her and also preserve her anonymity. At the end of this page the door opens and she steps in out of the searing heat and glaring sunlight and becomes invisible again.

It's a fair representation of the book as a whole--Jane can be hurt, she can be surrounded by obstacles, but she's always thinking, always working to get past them, and she's the smartest person in the room.
Learn more about the book and author at Thomas Perry's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue