Monday, July 16, 2012

"Hell or High Water"

Joy Castro is the author of the thriller Hell or High Water, which received a starred review from Booklist for its “exquisite New Orleans background, intriguing newsroom politics and atmosphere, a flawed but plucky heroine, and skillfully paced suspense.” Also the author of two memoirs, The Truth Book and Island of Bones, she lives with her husband in Lincoln, Nebraska and teaches creative writing, literature, and Latino studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Castro applied the Page 69 Test to Hell or High Water and reported the following:
Oh, dear. Yes, I’m afraid this is a representative passage. It falls at the end of an intense sex scene between the hard-boiled protagonist, twenty-seven-year-old crime reporter Nola Céspedes, who’s private to a fault, and Bento, the handsome stranger she picked up at a soccer field for some no-strings sex.

It’s night. They’ve just finished having rather successful sex in her car.
I sit there panting and blissed out, already starting to forget him.

He’s tugging his nylon shirt and shorts back into place. “May I have your telephone number?” he asks.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” I don’t give my number out to men. Not even men like this one.

“What’s your name?” he asks.

What the hell. “Nola.”

“Nola,” he says, like it’s the word for something delicious. We sit in the cool dark together, staring straight ahead out the windshield. “Well, Nola, I’d like to give you my phone number.”

“I won’t call.” The dark, empty fields stretch in front of us.
After convincing Nola to take his number, he shakes her hand, introduces himself, and thanks her for “a lovely evening.” Reluctantly, she thanks him in return.
Letting my hand go, he smiles with delight, like I’m a child raised by wolves who’s just used a fork for the first time. Like he’ll be returning to report good news to the other researchers back at the lab.
Nola is wary and secretive, for good reason. Bento’s patient pursuit of her—and her resistance—is laced throughout the murder mystery she’s investigating.
Learn more about the book and author at Joy Castro’s website and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue