Friday, May 4, 2012

"Darker Than Any Shadow"

Tina Whittle is a mystery writer working in Statesboro, Georgia. Her short fiction has appeared in The Savannah Literary Journal, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and Gulf Stream, which selected her story “Lost Causes and Other Reasons to Live” as the 2004 winner of their Mystery Fiction contest. She is a columnist and feature writer for The 11th Hour, a local alternative newspaper, and also works as a professional tarot reader.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Darker Than Any Shadow, the second novel in the Tai Randolph series, and reported the following:
Q: So we’re looking at page 69 of Darker Than Any Shadow — any sex on this page?

A: No, the sex is on page 67. And 177. But nothing here, sorry.

Q: How about gunplay?

A: That’s later, when the python shows up.

Q: So who is this guy asking the question at the top of page 69: “Where should we start?”

A: That’s Trey Seaver, one of my protagonists. In this scene, he’s clean up a restaurant after a suspicious fire wrecked the place and a malicious poet met an untimely and brutal death.

Q: And this is where your other protagonist comes in?

A: Tai Randolph, yes. She’s helping too, but while Trey is altruistically shouldering a broom, Tai is sneaking past the police tape to investigate the crime scene.

Q: So why is this an important scene?

A: It’s a quick glimpse into the personalities of Trey and Tai — now lovers, but still at cross purposes most of the time. A former SWAT officer with the Atlanta police force, Trey is a corporate security agent — he’s usually Armani-clad, impeccably groomed, and utterly rule-driven. Tai is a slightly frazzled Low Country redneck, trying to reinvent her life through an unexpected inheritance — a Confederate-themed gun shop. She’s smart, sneaky, and too curious for her own good. They make a complementary if contentious pair, both in romance and crime-solving.

As Tai explains, watching Trey poke about the water-soaked restaurant, “I wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but I knew his process—start at the beginning. My process was different. I started by finding something with a lid on it. Then I pulled the lid off.”

Q: And the crime that she pulls the lid off?

A: Murder most foul. Take a bunch of cut-throat performance poets, add money and glory, toss in some blackmail...

Q: Poets?

A: Trust me, they’re not your stereotypical “daffodils and fluffy cloud” poets.

Q: I’m still not getting how a python fits into all this.

A: Just read the book.
Learn more about the book and author at Tina Whittle's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue