Saturday, April 19, 2014

“Zero-Degree Murder”

A former search and rescue worker for over a decade, M.L. Rowland lives at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in south-central Colorado.

Rowland applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Zero-Degree Murder:
Page 69 in Zero-Degree Murder starts Chapter 18 and is only half a page.
Gracie and Cashman followed the tracks along a narrow portion of the trail where the canyon walls jutted steeply upward on the right and fell away into darkness on the left. According to the altimeter on Gracie’s watch, they had climbed to over ninety-five hundred feet in elevation. Snow fields above and below the trail had grown larger and more frequent. Any snow on the trail itself had been trampled into a muddy slush.
This first paragraph gives us the setting: smack dab in the middle of the rugged mountains of southern California, tells us that it’s nighttime and gives us an idea of the season—close enough to winter that there’s snow on the ground. It contains two of the main characters: Search and Rescue volunteer, Gracie Kinkaid, and her teammate, Steve Cashman, and what they’re doing: following tracks along a wilderness trail, indicative of the action which continues throughout the entire book.
By then Gracie had been able to positively identify additional print patterns mixed in with the Reeboks. One had a smooth sole with a distinctive pointed toe that could very well be from Rob Christian’s city shoes. Another, a honey-combed pattern, was small enough to belong to a woman. Others were a lug sole typical of a hiking boot.
This paragraph tells us that Gracie is a skilled tracker. The fact that she identifies a pair of shoes as “city” gives us a little insight into her personality. It also tells us a little about the missing hikers: one is wearing Reebok’s. Another is probably a woman. One, most likely Rob Christian, is hiking in those ‘city shoes.’ The fourth is wearing appropriate footwear--hiking boots.
“What the—?” Gracie stopped abruptly and squatted at the side of the trail. “Cashman, hold up a sec,” she yelled up to her teammate who was hiking out of sight ahead of her.

“What?” came Steve’s voice out of the darkness ahead.
What Gracie finds on the trail is the first hint that something has gone terribly wrong for the missing hikers (other than the fact that they’re missing in the first place). From there, everything goes downhill—literally and figuratively.

Hopefully this half-page alone contains plenty to entice readers to read further!
Visit M.L. Rowland's website.

My Book, The Movie: Zero-Degree Murder.

--Marshal Zeringue