Friday, November 2, 2012

"The Big Exit"

While David Carnoy lives in New York City with his wife and children, his novels take place in Silicon Valley, where he grew up and went to high school (Palo Alto). His debut novel, Knife Music (2010), was a Top-10 bestseller on the Kindle and also a bestseller on the Nook. More medical thriller than high-tech thriller, to research the novel Carnoy spent a lot of time talking with doctors, visiting trauma centers, and trailed a surgeon at a hospital in Northern California to help create the book's protagonist, Dr. Ted Cogan.

The Big Exit (2012) isn't a sequel to Knife Music per se. However, a few of the characters from Knife Music figure prominently in the story. His second novel has more of a high-tech slant and reflects Carnoy's experiences as an executive editor at, where he currently works and is trying resolve his obsession with consumer electronics products. He went to college at Wesleyan University and has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University.

Carnoy applied the Page 69 Test to The Big Exit and reported the following:
For better or worse there's nothing terribly sexy about page 69 of The Big Exit. I should have realized in advance that I might end up posting something for this blog and made it sexier, but as it stands, it's the last page of a chapter and not even a full page. It's stunted, a half pint, the runt of the page litter.

Hank Madden, the detective in the novel (he was also in my first book, Knife Music) is near the end of questioning Beth Hill shortly after her husband, a high-tech entrepreneur, is found murdered in the garage of their Silicon Valley home (the wife's 911 call is what opens the book). One of the other detectives has pulled Madden out of the room to give him an update on their canvassing of the neighborhood and the two discuss a shoe print found outside the garage.

There's a bit of a Jaws moment -- the part where Brody really sees the shark for the first time and says, "You're going to need a bigger boat." In this case, the second detective, Burns, turns to Madden and says, "We're gonna need some help here." Madden says he knows. "Everybody's going to want a piece," Burns reiterates. To which Madden replies: "I'm good at sharing."

Of course, you know he really isn't good at sharing and these guys are in over their head. After all, it's quaint Menlo Park (yes, where Facebook is now headquartered), where you get a couple of murders a year, if that (in researching the book, I spent some time with the Menlo Park police).

The chapter certainly represents the police procedural aspect of the book, but I wouldn't say it's truly representative of the book, which I refer to as a Silicon Noir; it's a darker take on the Valley with some comedic elements.

My books are little unusual in that while the detective (Madden) is a main character, he's not the protagonist. He's got the proverbial demons to contend with, but the other characters, including the protagonist, Richie Forman -- fresh out of prison and making a living as a Sinatra impersonator -- have bigger personalities and are the ones who truly drive the book. I'm particularly fond of the tech blogger, Tom Bender, who Booklist describes as "a hilariously narcissistic blogger bent on breaking the case." Some think the character is based on Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch fame but I imagined him more as Steve Jobs reincarnated as a blogger.
Learn more about the book and author at David Carnoy's website.

--Marshal Zeringue