Saturday, March 1, 2014

"When Shadows Fall"

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven critically acclaimed novels, including The Final Cut with Catherine Coulter, When Shadows Fall, Edge of Black and A Deeper Darkness. Her work has been published in over twenty countries. Her novel The Cold Room won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Paperback Original and Where All The Dead Lie was a RITA® Nominee for Best Romantic Suspense. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

Ellison applied the Page 69 Test to When Shadows Fall and reported the following:
Dr. Samantha Owens has been pulled into the death investigation of a man named Timothy Savage – a loner who by all accounts has committed suicide. But prior to his death, Savage posted a letter to Sam begging her to solve his murder.

Sam has just settled into her new position at Georgetown University, where she’s going to be running their brand new forensic pathology program. She has no interest in this case, but Savage’s note is persuasive, and homicide detective Darren Fletcher offers to escort her to Lynchburg, Virginia to conduct the autopsy on Savage’s body. Sam agrees, if only to satisfy one last debt to her old world, and instead finds herself deep in a mysterious case where nothing is as it seems.

I went to college in Lynchburg, and I’ve always wanted to revisit the setting. Page 69 is the beginning of Chapter 13, when Sam and Fletcher, along with local detective June Davidson, go to Hoyle’s crematorium to autopsy Savage’s body. I used my memories of the beautiful houses of Lynchburg, and twisted them a bit to suit my purposes.
Lynchburg, Virginia

Sam loved the South.

The Hoyle Funeral Home and Crematorium was housed in an antebellum mansion worthy of its own sound stage in Hollywood as a depiction of Tara. Huge Corinthian columns soared in front of three stories of pristine white clapboard, black shutters, a wraparound porch and a red double front door, its true purpose masked by the picture-perfect facade of a luxurious bed-and-breakfast. The main doors opened into a magnificent foyer with a small, awkwardly placed reception stand, currently empty. The counter had a small bell, like in a hotel, and Sam smacked it lightly with her palm. Moments later, a small man scurried into the foyer.

Roy Hoyle of the eponymously named crematorium was a mouse of a man with a mop of unnaturally black hair that was slightly crooked on his scalp, and thin, pale hands that hardly seemed capable of the duties they were called upon to perform on a daily basis. He shook Sam’s hand and she could barely feel his fingers in hers. She saw Fletcher flinch when the action was repeated, and cautiously wipe his hand on his trousers.
Like most Southern mansions, something lurks beneath the surface. Good, evil? Both?
Visit J.T. Ellison's website, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

The Page 69 Test: Edge of Black.

Writers Read: J. T. Ellison.

--Marshal Zeringue