Monday, November 26, 2012

"Edge of Black"

J.T. Ellison is the bestselling author of eight critically acclaimed novels and multiple short stories. She has been published in over twenty countries. Her novel The Cold Room won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Paperback Original of 2010, and Where All The Dead Lie was a RITA® Award nominee for Best Romantic Suspense in 2012.

Ellison's Dr. Samantha Owens Series includes A Deeper Darkness and the recently released Edge of Black.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Edge of Black and reported the following:
I happen to have both the mass-market paperback and trade paperback versions of Edge of Black to hand, and thought I’d play a game to see how the format affects the Page 69 Test. I didn’t look until I began writing this, just now. And…

Ah. They are bookends of the same scene – the trade paperback the beginning, the mass-market the meat. Washington D.C. homicide detective Darren Fletcher is investigating the murder of Congressman Peter Leighton, a victim of an apparent biological terrorist attack on the D.C. Metro. Fletcher is a no-nonsense cop, and after being kept waiting at the Congressman’s office to interview his Chief of Staff, he finally decides to throw his weight around.

From the mass market paperback:
He went back to the intern sitting at the front desk. She was a timorous thing, eyes wide and staring, probably wondering what she was going to do next. Most likely be sent back home to Indiana, if she’d been from Leighton’s district. If she were local, she might be reassigned, or be out of luck entirely. When he said, “Excuse me,” she jumped a mile.

“Yes, sir?”

“I’m going to have to insist on seeing the chief of staff immediately.”

“I’m sorry, sir. They’re in a meeting, and they said they weren’t to be disturbed. For anyone. He told me that you need to wait outside.”

Fletcher gave her his most charming smile. “You go in there and let him know he has one minute to open the doors or I’ll kick them in.”

Her rabbit eyes grew wide and she made a beeline for the doors. Fletcher didn’t wait, he followed right behind her, and when she opened the door, he touched her on the shoulder.

“Thanks. I’ll take it from here.”

“But, but…” Fletcher left her stammering in the doorway and stepped through into the congressman’s office. He didn’t make a habit of interrupting meetings—he had no right to do so—but there were exigent circumstances at play.

A thin man with precisely cut brown hair and a pristine gray pin-striped suit was sitting behind the desk, with three less dressed people facing him—two men and a woman. If Fletcher hadn’t known the congressman was dead, he would have assumed the man behind the desk held the power. Which, in many ways, he did.
From the Trade Paperback:
“Did the congressman take the Metro this morning?”

Temple sniffed once, hard, then faced Fletcher again. “He takes it every morning. Part of his job, he says, to be with the people, be a part of the populace. Of course, he has security on him, and he only rides it one stop, from Eastern Market to Capitol South. You know. Kisses his wife goodbye, hops on the subway. It makes him feel normal, like a regular guy. Joe six-pack, he liked to say. So yes, he was on the subway today.”

“Where’s his wife now?”

“Gretchen? Flying in from Terre Haute. She’d gone home to get one of their… charities settled. She is devastated.”

“I’ll need to speak to her as soon as she arrives. And I need to speak to his detail. I’ll also need the names of all the supporters who were here this morning.”

“I will have the detail get in touch immediately, and the list of people sent to you.”

“The detail weren’t here, in the office?”

“Not at his time of death. In the building, yes. More than likely. They were scheduled to go out with him at two. The congressman had a meeting this afternoon at the University Club. He was scheduled to speak to the Daughters of the American Revolution, of all things.”

Fletcher appreciated the irony—speaking to a group whose membership could trace their lineage to the first attempts of the country to gain their freedom on the day the most important city in the world was attacked by terrorists was rich.
Two scenes, which in the grand spectrum, look unimportant. And yet, they are vital to the story, and to what happens down the road.
Learn more about the book and author at J.T. Ellison's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: A Deeper Darkness.

Writers Read: J.T. Ellison (April 2012).

My Book, The Movie: A Deeper Darkness.

Writers Read: J.T. Ellison (November 2012).

--Marshal Zeringue