Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Burnt Black"

Ed Kovacs is the author of the critically-acclaimed Cliff St. James mystery/crime series published by St. Martin’s Press. He spent two and half years living in New Orleans beginning in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and he co-founded a security company there that taught defensive tactics and other techniques. Kovacs has studied martial arts, holds many weapons-related licenses, certifications and permits, and is a certified medical First Responder. He is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, American Legion Post 299, the International Thriller Writers association, and the Mystery Writers of America.

Kovacs applied the Page 69 Test to Burnt Black, his third Cliff St. James Novel, and reported the following:
As I scan page 69 of the Advance Reader's Copy (ARC) of Burnt Black, I see a break between scenes. So I have the last paragraph of one scene, and the first graphs of the next.

In that ending paragraph, a mysterious late-night stalker escapes from NOPD Homicide Detective Cliff St. James. It concludes a spooky, almost freaky scene where St. James was trapped in a succubus-type nightmare. So the sense that this case won't be easy to solve and that things are not as they seem gets reinforced. Good.

Burnt Black is not fantasy or sci-fi, but my detectives have to wrestle with some occult killings that seem to defy logic. Considering the long legacy of voodoo and spiritualism in New Orleans, where the novel is set, bizarre doings might be de rigueur to the average cop. But there's bizarre, and then there's over-the-top crazy/weird, and it's the latter that challenges my detectives.

There's no dialogue on page 69, but since I wrote this series in first person, some of St. James' inner musings regarding his detective partner and would-be lover, Honey, suggest suspicion and foreshadow a radical change in their relationship which occurs near the end of the book.

Other narrative is focused on the plot, and on touching base with the familiar—the familiar on page 69 being St. James' penchant for riding a bike. In a series, it's important to keep consistent habits, since readers expect it. I try to balance the things that readers have come to expect from my hero with out-of-left-field surprises, since, after all, I have to keep them guessing in a mystery.
Learn more about the book and author at Ed Kovacs's website.

My Book, The Movie: Storm Damage.

The Page 69 Test: Storm Damage.

The Page 69 Test: Good Junk.

Writers Read: Ed Kovacs.

--Marshal Zeringue