Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Island of Bones"

Imogen Robertson worked as a television, film, and radio director before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of the Westerman/Crowther novels: Instruments of Darkness, Anatomy of Murder, and Island of Bones, which was short-listed for the 2011 Crime Writers’ Association Ellis Peters Historical Award. She lives in London.

Robertson applied the Page 69 Test to Island of Bones and reported the following:
From page 69:
She looked back at Felix behind her in the gloom. He smiled up at her encouragingly from the shadows.

“It is safe enough near the door, Mrs Westerman. Only avoid the western corner.”

She edged out. The world seemed to sway somewhat around her. [….]

He stared down gloomily over the wall. Harriet gripped the stone behind her.

“You don’t feel the temptation to throw yourself into the void then?”

“No, I do not,” she said as firmly as she could. “Only a little weakness.” With great effort she turned herself to look at the view. A falling run of trees, a glimmer of lake and crags beyond. She felt her knees shake and her hands were white on the stonework.

“A little weakness…” His voice was soft. “What do you conclude from the snuffbox, Mrs Westerman? Do you think my grandfather was involved in the disposal of the body? What do you think you will learn from that poor mangled corpse?”
I think this is my favourite page 69 test so far! It does give a reasonable sense of the book, I think, which is very satisfying. I hope it suggests old secrets and new threats in a mysterious and beautiful landscape. In the scene Harriet Westerman reaches the top of a medieval tower which is the last remnant of a ruined manor house on the shores of Derwentwater in the Lake District, North West England. With her is Felix, the nephew of her friend Gabriel Crowther, a man with whom she has solved various murders in the past. Gabriel Crowther is a rich and reclusive anatomist who has been asked to visit the area because an extra body has been found in an ancient tomb, but the mystery is for him a very personal one. This is the place he was born and where his father was murdered by his elder brother. Gabriel’s proud, hurt sister and his nephew are also visiting the new owners. Harriet, needing to escape her own demons, agrees to come with Crowther to help uncover the truth and early on the first morning of her visit goes to see the ruins and meets Felix.

The fear of heights which Harriet shows here she has inherited from me so I felt very close to this passage as I was writing it. The page gives us a glimpse of the surrounding countryside, a magical and ancient landscape which is key to the book as a whole and Felix’s question at the bottom of the page gives you an idea of the mystery at its heart. I hope there is a sense of dread tangible on this page too as new violence is about to break out.
Learn more about the book and author at Imogen Robertson's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Instruments of Darkness.

My Book, The Movie: Instruments of Darkness.

The Page 69 Test: Anatomy of Murder.

--Marshal Zeringue