Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"A Distance to Death"

Holly Menino grew up in a small Ohio college town, where her passionate interest in animals showed itself by age three, about ten years before she heard the call to be a writer. A graduate of Smith College, she has worked in both scholarly and popular publishing and is the author of Murder, She Rode.

Menino applied the Page 69 Test to her new book, A Distance to Death, and reported the following:
If you start to skim A Distance to Death on page 69, you'll find Charlie Reidermann explaining that "we couldn't get a quorum." But Charlie should take a look around page 69 because it brings together at a guest ranch in the Sierra Nevada a quorum of the story's major characters.

You may have met Tink Elledge, Charlie, and stepson Stephen in Murder, She Rode, the first Tink mystery. Tink is a former world-class rider—headstrong, intuitive, and confronting the erosion of her athletic ability. Charlie, her third husband and a successful investor, has a much cooler head and a big business deal at risk. Stephen, Tink's much-doted-on stepson now under Charlie's tutelage, has an equal stake in the deal. Also present—in one way or another—are a dead guy, the woman he has left behind in an uneasy legal status, and Tink's first husband.

The dead guy hasn't been dead very long. He was a geneticist made quite wealthy by his pharmaceutical innovations. He was old. Died in his sleep, no reason to question that. Tink doesn't, so I hope you won't either. At least not right now.

But you'll see right away that Tink has sympathy for the unmarried woman the dead guy left behind—and that she is withholding some important information from Charlie. Tink is just one of the people who are guarding information. The dead guy, for starters, has been quietly devoting his later years to discovering a balance between evolution, as proposed by Darwin, and the life of the spirit, as proposed by Christianity. But then....[time to stop skimming]

When I set A Distance to Death in the midst of a debate about evolution versus religion, I assumed that debate was nearly dead and thought it would be fun for Tink to stir it back to life again. But in the past month the evolution-creation issue has popped back up into the public eye. As reported by New York Times commentator Charles M. Blow, a new Gallup poll reveals a contradictory mix of beliefs about evolution and the work of God. A movie due out later this summer will probably make a broader impression. I, Origins dramatizes the evolution-religion conflict that apparently exists in the minds of many people—and Tink rides right into the thick of that.
Visit Holly Menino's website.

Writers Read: Holly Menino.

--Marshal Zeringue