Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"December’s Thorn"

Phillip DePoy is the author of a number of mysteries, including the Edgar Award winning play Easy. He has published short fiction, poetry, and criticism in Story, The Southern Poetry Review, Xanadu, and Yankee, among other magazines. As a folklorist, Depoy has worked with Joseph Campbell and John Burrison. He is currently the director of the theatre program at Clayton State University.

DePoy's Fever Devilin novels include The Drifter's Wheel and A Corpse’s Nightmare.

He applied the Page 69 Test to December's Thorn, the 7th of seven Fever Devilin novels, and reported the following:
Here’s what I like about page 69 of December’s Thorn: it includes the phrase “confusingly uncharacteristic”—which is a nice comment on page 69’s metaphorical relationship with the rest of the book—and the word shenanigans, which is just funny. We spend a portion of this book trying to decide if the main character, Fever Devilin, is out of his mind or not. The dialogue on this page is between him and Dr. Nelson, his sort-of psychiatric counselor. We discover on this page that Fever is a little confused by his uncharacteristic attraction to the lovely, albeit strange, Ceri Nelson. He is, after all, engaged to and, in fact, in love with Lucinda Foxe. To keep the page from completely collapsing into romantic melodrama, we also have a reference to a particular rifle. When Dr. Nelson says to Fever that he doesn’t seem the type to know much about guns, he tells her, “I’ve been shot at lots of times since I’ve been home. After it happened a few too many times, I started doing what any good quasi-academic would: I did the research.” And there we are: a neat summation of the series so far. He used to be an academic. He moved back home. Enough people have taken shots at him that he wants to know a little about firearms. Does this make page 69 representative of the rest of the book? Not entirely. The book is a psychological mystery, an exploration of the Tristan and Isolde mythology, and a cool meditation the nature of broken families. It begins with a woman—or is she a ghost?—who comes to Fever’s door on a cold December night claiming to be his long-lost wife. No one else has seen the woman, hence the presence of a psychiatrist. As the mystery unfolds, the truth about his “ghost bride” is, you know, miraculously engaging. Or at the very least, the book provides the reader with a few dark, amusing, diverting shenanigans. (No, but seriously, why is that word so funny?)
Learn more about the book and author at Phillip DePoy's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Drifter's Wheel.

The Page 69 Test: A Corpse's Nightmare.

--Marshal Zeringue