Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Deeper Than the Grave"

Tina Whittle’s Tai Randolph/Trey Seaver series — featuring intrepid gunshop owner Tai and her corporate security agent partner Trey — has garnered starred reviews in Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. Published by Poisoned Pen Press, this Atlanta-based series debuted with The Dangerous Edge of Things, followed by Darker Than Any Shadow (2012) and Blood, Ash and Bone (2013).

Whittle applied the Page 69 Test to Deeper Than the Grave, the fourth book in the series, and reported the following:
The sixty-ninth page of the fourth book in the Tai Randolph series – Deeper Than the Grave – is entirely atypical for both the series and her life. Tai is the half-owner and sole proprietor of Dexter’s Gun’s and More, an Atlanta gun shop that caters to Civil War enthusiasts and reenactors, especially those of the Confederate persuasion. Her slightly-estranged brother, Eric, is the other half-owner.

Tai is somewhat reckless, highly emotional, and trusts her gut reactions more than a play-it-safe sensibility. Eric is sophisticated, almost ten years her senior, and has a PhD in psychology that he often wields against Tai as if it were an efficiently keen scimitar. The scene on page sixty-nine is a rare moment of détente between them.

Of course Tai is trying to grill him for some information connected to a grotty skull she’s stumbled upon, which is why she’s giving him a ride to the airport. And of course Eric is jetting off to yet another speaking engagement nowhere near his sister’s haphazard “investigation.” But in Tai’s Camaro, for this one scene, there’s a real connection between these two very different siblings, an authentic emotional presence. I hope the goodwill they forge here will turn into foundational ground for them.

From page 69:
The next morning dawned sunny and clear and bitter cold. I kept the engine running and the heater blasting as I parked in front of my brother's house. His lawn wore the dead of winter well, the leafless dogwoods and winter-spare azaleas complementing the lines of his Arts and Crafts bungalow. I knew better than to honk in his part of Virginia Highlands, but of course I didn't have to—Eric was already coming out to meet me, suitcase rolling beside him like a well-behaved dog.

Maybe it was the bright clear light, but he looked thinner, more gray hairs among the dark blond tousles he so carefully cultivated. He'd turn forty this year, I remembered with a start. I had thirty in my headlights and no gray yet, but my brother's hair was a portent of things to come. He popped his luggage in the trunk, then slid into the passenger side, balancing a travel mug as he arranged his messenger bag between his knees.

"I could have gotten a car," he said, fastening his seatbelt. "The coffee's for you, by the way. Blue Mountain. Sugared and creamed."

I took the mug from him. "Let me guess. Organically sourced from a single cow in Switzerland."

"Oh, you are full of funny this morning, aren't you?"

I laughed as I pulled the Camaro into his driveway for a quick turn-around.
Learn more about the book and author at Tina Whittle's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Darker Than Any Shadow.

The Page 69 Test: Blood, Ash, and Bone.

--Marshal Zeringue