Thursday, May 22, 2014

"The Devil's Workshop"

Alex Grecian is the national bestselling author of the “Scotland Yard Murder Squad” novels, including The Yard, The Black Country, and the newly released The Devil’s Workshop. After leaving a career in advertising, working on accounts that included Harley-Davidson and The Great American Smokeout, Grecian returned to his first love: writing fiction. He co-created the long-running and critically acclaimed graphic novel series Proof, which NPR named one of the best books of 2009. One of the Proof storylines is set in the 1800’s and inspired The Yard.

Grecian applied the Page 69 Test to The Devil’s Workshop and reported the following:
The Murder Squad books, at least the first six of them, describe the ethical, emotional and occupational changes undergone by Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith. Day’s arc is especially drastic. He’s already gone from being a naïve sensitive country constable to a seasoned detective and is beginning to teeter over the precipice of some vast moral grey area. He’s still on that dark journey, but page 69 of The Devil’s Workshop shows how far he’s already traveled since we met him two books ago, in the first chapter of The Yard.

As page 69 begins, Day’s caught a prison warden he’s interrogating in a contradiction and he isn’t particularly polite about pointing it out:
“Please, don’t say no when you mean yes.”

The skin around the warden’s eyes tightened. “Of course,” he said. “My mistake.”

Day sighed. “I apologize. Damned awkward situation.”
Day goes on to make some observations about the corpse at their feet, but by the end of page 69 it’s clear he’s in charge of the investigation and he’s not much interested in anything except solving it. He’s certainly less concerned than he used to be about ruffling feathers or stepping on toes. He’s losing that veneer of Victorian respectability that he’s always possessed.

Out of curiosity I checked page 69 of the previous book in the series. The Walter Day in that book was far more calm and playful. He was biding his time on page 69 of The Black Country, looking for connections, playing with ideas. After all he goes through in the course of that book, he comes to The Devil’s Workshop as a less patient man.

He’s still changing and I’m excited to see what kind of person he’ll eventually become. But that point is still many pages in the future. Several of them numbered 69.
Visit Alex Grecian's website.

--Marshal Zeringue