Monday, July 2, 2012

"The 13th Target"

A native of North Carolina, Mark de Castrique writes mysteries primarily set in the Appalachian mountains. He is an award-winning film and video producer whose work has been broadcast on PBS, HBO, and network-affiliate stations as well as the author of the Sam Blackman mystery series, the Buryin’ Barry series, and two mysteries for young adults.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his latest thriller, The 13th Target, and reported the following: 
Page 69 can best be described as a set up page. My protagonist, ex-Secret Service agent (and squeaky clean) Rusty Mullins is taking his grandson Josh to a T-ball game where he also plans to meet with a reporter claiming to have information on the suicide of Mullins' friend and protective charge Federal Reserve executive Paul Luguire. But his daughter Kayli's neighbor, Don Beecham, asks to come along with his young son Luke:
Mullins recognized the child. Luke. Josh’s playmate from a unit on the second floor.

“I’ll have to get a bigger bag. I’m Rusty Mullins. Aka Paw Paw.”

“Don Beecham. Luke’s dad. Kayli said you were coming by for Josh.” He walked back in the condo. “The girls have gone to some sale at Pentagon City. I’m afraid my wife enticed your daughter to join her.”

Mullins followed him, but left the door open. “I hope I haven’t held you up. Kayli could have called me to come earlier.”

“That’s all right. It was a spur of the moment thing. Sandy saw the ad in the morning paper. Stores opened at eight for some Summer Madness promotion. Then they both have hair appointments.”

Josh squirmed to get down.

“Hold still,” Mullins said. “We’re going in a minute.”

“Kayli left diapers and a clean outfit by the door.” Don pointed to a blue bag adjacent to the threshold. “She said she’d pick Josh up at one.”

“Okay. I can lock up. Thanks for holding the fort till I got here.”

Don reached down and lifted his son. “Kayli said she didn’t think you’d mind if Luke and I tagged along. He’s never seen a ballgame.”

Mullins hesitated. Last night Detective Sullivan had convinced him to talk to some reporter named Sidney Levine, and the guy woke him up at seven-thirty. Mullins agreed to meet him, and the ballgame seemed a safe, public place.

Don picked up on Mullins’ reluctance. “But if you’d rather have time alone with Josh, I understand.”

“No, it’s not that. I’ve got some errands to run afterwards and that might not be convenient for you.”

“We’ll take separate cars. Better anyway because I don’t know how long the game will hold Luke’s attention.”

Mullins considered the point. Having Luke along might keep Josh occupied. He’d find a way to exchange a few words with the reporter and be done with it.
Rusty Mullins is doing his own unofficial investigation into Luguire's suicide, the man his private protection agency was supposed to safeguard. To complicate matters, Don Beecham is a Federal Reserve employee. The reporter, Sidney Levine, will not be "done with" but will dog Mullins' trail. Soon, the apparent suicide becomes a secondary concern as an impending terrorist plot against the Federal Reserve surfaces. Mullins is in a race against time, and, as the evidence mounts, one person emerges as the prime suspect -- Rusty Mullins himself.
Learn more about the book and author at Mark de Castrique's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Mark de Castrique & Gracie.

--Marshal Zeringue