Saturday, January 31, 2015

"Snow Like Ashes"

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures.

Raasch applied the Page 69 Test to her debut YA fantasy novel, Snow Like Ashes, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Snow Like Ashes is a scene in which Meira talks with Mather, the future king of Winter, about their kingdom's plight. It's a good representation of the book, as it deals with the struggle that Meira faces -- helping her kingdom -- while expanding on the relationship she has with both Mather and their leader, Sir.
Visit Sara Raasch's website.

My Book, The Movie: Snow Like Ashes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 30, 2015

"Uncle Janice"

Matt Burgess is the critically acclaimed author of Dogfight, A Love Story. A graduate of Dartmouth and the University of Minnesota's MFA program, he grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Uncle Janice, and reported the following:
Uncle Janice is a novel about the NYPD, specifically about a young undercover narcotics cop who’s risking her life to buy dime bags. For the purposes of this assignment I turned to page 69, hopeful I might find some tense scene to excerpt, with a bit of gunplay and a narrow escape, or a passage that might illuminate the folly of the war on drugs, or at the very least some intra-precinct shenanigans, something that might entice you to plunk down your $25.95 and add to cart, but this is what I got instead: my courageous young heroine, Janice Itwaru, at home with her mom, who’s been diagnosed with early onset dementia. And what are they doing? They’re watching Wheel of Fortune.
Janice sat next to her on the couch with their shoulders touching while Pat Sajak did his heroic best to conceal his boredom. Like Banagrams, oily fish, pumpkin seeds, and folic acid, television game shows were supposed to fortify her mother’s brain, and so Janice was forbidden to solve any of the puzzles out loud or make sarcastic comments about Vanna’s plunge line or really say anything at all until the commercials, when her mother muted the television with the remote, which lately she’d been calling the picture-stick. At the first commercial break they debated whether the middle contestant came across as cocky. (He totally did.) At the second break, Janice asked her if she wanted to go to the Salvation Army that weekend to pick out crackhead clothes.
I gotta tell you, I’m sort of delighted. The passage is a reminder to me that no matter how I may want to market it, this book is less a police procedural than a coming of age story. Janice is in her early 20s, an impossible time for anyone. She doesn’t yet know who she is because she’s so many people in so many different contexts. On the streets she acts like a fiending drug addict in crackhead clothes, at work like an ambitious shield-chaser. She’s a certain kind of person around her partner, different around other colleagues, different around her superiors, different around her ex-boyfriend, different around her mother, around her father, her older sister, at the local bar by herself, in her head, at night when she can’t fall asleep, but throughout it all she is consistently overwhelmed, trying to navigate the absurdist bureaucracy of the NYPD while retaining some sense of personal agency, whatever that might mean for her. At the end of the page 69 scene, she announces she’s solved the bonus puzzle, but she hasn’t really. She doesn’t yet know all the words. She’s faking it till she makes it, which is why I’m rooting for her and I hope you will too.
Visit the official Matt Burgess website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Deliver Us"

Kathryn Casey is an award-winning journalist, who has written for Rolling Stone, TV Guide, Reader's Digest, Texas Monthly, and many other publications. She's the author of several previous true crime books and the creator of the highly acclaimed Sarah Armstrong mystery series. Casey has appeared on Oprah, Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen network, Biography, Nancy Grace, E! network, truTV, Investigation Discovery, the Travel Channel, and A&E.

Casey applied the Page 69 Test to her new book, Deliver Us: Three Decades of Murder and Redemption in the Infamous I-45/Texas Killing Fields, and reported the following:
From page 69:
It would later seem that brief investigation set the tone for their future encounters. “I leaned on Mike real hard about it,” Morris testified, describing the first time he interrogated Self. “He respected me as far as what I could do to him.”

“Was Mike Self afraid of you?” a lawyer asked.

“That’s a fair statement. Yes,” he responded.

At other times, Morris said much the same in even stronger terms, admitting that Mike Self was “scared to death of me.”

When it came to the question of where the bad blood originated, some said that Morris resented Self because he was a friend of the former police chief, whom Morris made it clear he couldn’t abide. Weeks before he was even questioned about the two murders, Self, who’d had psychiatric treatment after he’d been accused of being a Peeping Tom, told a Webster police officer that Morris had “threatened to get him.” It was around daybreak less than a month after Morris took over as Webster’s police chief, when Tommy Deal and another officer were dispatched to the Texaco station where Self worked to talk to him about the girls’ murders.
This excerpt from page 69 is, in a sense, representative of the book. Deliver Us: Three Decades of Murder and Redemption in the Infamous I-45/Texas Killing Fields explores the murders of dozens of teenage girls and young women over three decades along a stretch of I-45 south of Houston and going onto Galveston Island. For decades, the girls’ photos have been published on a chart of notorious cases that’s often run in newspapers along the Gulf Coast, under headings like “Unsolved” and “I-45 Mysteries.”

Eleven of the murders took place in the 1970s, six of the girls dying in pairs. Mike Self, who pumped gas in an era pre-dating self-serve, was convicted of two murders, those of fourteen-year-old best friends Sharon Shaw and Rhonda Renee Johnson. Sadly, Self died in prison for the murders, although the prevailing opinion is that he wasn’t guilty.

This passage is representative of the book because it illustrates the doubts and the hysteria surrounding these cases. Many wonder if the girls’ murders would have been solved with better police work – obviously absent in the Self case, where lawmen allegedly played Russian roulette to get him to confess.

By the time Shaw’s and Johnson’s remains were discovered in early 1972, months after their disappearances, five other girls had vanished. That put the body count at seven. In response, parents throughout the Houston-Galveston area panicked. They locked their daughters in their homes, refusing to let them walk unaccompanied outside. And they demanded answers. Police, seen as ineffective, were highly criticized. The pressure built, and Self, it appears, became a scapegoat. This, of course, only multiplied the tragedy.

How do we know Mike Self was innocent? One possible indicator is that while he sat in a Texas prison proclaiming his innocence, girls continued to die along I-45.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathryn Casey's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Singularity.

The Page 99 Test: Blood Lines.

The Page 69 Test: The Killing Storm.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"An Appetite for Violets"

Martine Bailey’s first historical novel, An Appetite for Violets, is a gastronomic mystery tale set in 18th century Europe. Written as a book of recipes, it takes a young cook on a murderous trip from England to Italy. Bailey lives in Chester, England and as an amateur cook, won the Merchant Gourmet Recipe Challenge and was a former UK Dessert Champion.

Bailey applied the Page 69 Test to An Appetite for Violets and reported the following:
The opening location of An Appetite for Violets is Mawton Hall, a run-down Country House in the rural north of England. Emotions are running high. The servants have long been neglected and Biddy Leigh, a feisty young under-cook has reluctantly got herself involved with a secretive adventuress, Lady Carinna, newly married to the elderly and absent master. To the servants’ astonishment, Lady Carinna has announced that she is about to undertake a journey to Italy and that Biddy Leigh is to accompany her.

By page 69 Biddy has been browbeaten into agreeing to go with her and she makes her peace with her mentor, the kindly cook Mrs Garland. It is time for the old cook to offer some truths and advice to Biddy:
‘Now listen to me, Biddy. If you only listen once, do it now. I’ve been puzzling, and it seems to me you have two ways ahead of you.’ Her eyes shone as bright as a young girl’s as they met mine. ‘You can suffer all this as a trial and waste a whole year complaining.’ I lifted my head sharpish at that, but she would not be interrupted. ‘Or you can learn to be more than a plain cook like me. Learn how to make those fancy French bomboons and dishes à la mode. What a chance, girl,’ she said, shaking my captive hand. ‘I have seen advertisements for cooks with the French Style and do you know what they offer? Twenty guineas a year. You shall be a cook to nobility.’

‘But I am marrying Jem when I get back.’ I spoke it like an article of faith that only I believed in. She sighed, her solid bosom heaving.

‘Then cook at this alehouse Jem boasts of. I’ve heard there are taverns that sell spanking fine food in London. Oh, if I had my youth again I should dearly love to try what they offer. And as for Paris! This could be the making of you, with the talents God has given you. You shall taste food I never even dreamed of.’

‘I think not.’ I was quite fixed on being miserable. ‘I am only the pan-tosser, taken along so Her Ladyship needn’t eat foreign stuff.’
The old cook goes on to offer Biddy two gifts, in the manner of a fairy godmother. The first is the marvelous Household book of recipes, called The Cook’s Jewel. Biddy’s task is to keep a journal in its freshly added pages, especially any new receipts (recipes) she tries out:
‘Write it all down for your old friend, Biddy. Tell me what you see, who you meet, and mostly – what you eat. Write careful descriptions and copy the receipts if you can.’
Mrs Garland’s second gift is a beautiful silver knife, once the possession of the master’s first and truly genteel wife. The two women joke about how it will be useful for ‘chopping garlics’ and ‘skinning frogs’ on the Continent – but of course the reader is already guessing that Biddy may have other needs of a good sharp knife at some future time, on a dangerous journey that will culminate in murder…
Visit Martine Bailey's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: An Appetite for Violets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"The Conspiracy of Us"

Maggie Hall indulges her obsession with distant lands and far-flung adventures as often as she can. She has played with baby tigers in Thailand, learned to make homemade pasta in Italy, and taken thousands of miles of trains through the vibrant countryside of India. In her past life, she was a bookstore events coordinator and marketing manager, and when she’s not on the other side of the world, she lives with her husband and their cats in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she watches USC football, dabbles in graphic design, and blogs about young adult literature for YA Misfits.

Hall applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Conspiracy of Us, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Elisa led me to a three-way mirror, where a girl who hardly looked like me stared back in triplicate. In the silver gown, the girl looked more serious, more elegant, then they changed me into the gold dress again, and she was glamorous, striking.

I found myself hoping fiercely that my mom would let me stay for the ball, and even a little longer. Meet the Saxons, find out more about my father's family and the rest of the Circle. To feel like I belonged in this strange, fascinating world.

"You have to choose eventually." Elisa smiled. In the mirror, the gold sequins shimmered. But there was something about the silver. It belonged on me.

Aimee unzipped the gold dress and left me to get out of it, following Elisa downstairs to wrap the silver one. I watched it go. I couldn't believe that, just like that, it was going to be mine.

I was about step out of the gold dress when I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. "Elisa?" I said. "Aimee?" There was no answer.

In case it was one of the men come to escort me down, I zipped the dress up.

The girls were nowhere in sight, but the man who had let us in stood at the top of the staircase.

"Sorry, I'm not ready yet," I said. I smiled at him, and he reached into his jacket pocket.

He pulled out something that, for a moment, didn't register. It was too discordant with the marble floors, the dresses, the Bach chiming from the speakers.

It was a knife.
Hilariously, page 69-70 is the excerpt on the back of The Conspiracy of Us! So yes, I suppose it’s a pretty good introduction to the book. There’s danger. There’s action. There are beautiful ball gowns. And Avery is thinking about everything that’s happening to her, so you’d have a pretty good idea about her family and how she feels about her new situation if you read only this page—which is why we chose it for the back!

And as for whether a reader would read on? If I were a reader, I would! I'd be dying to see what Avery would do in this situation. I hope other readers feel the same way!
Visit Maggie Hall's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 26, 2015


New York Times bestselling author William C. Dietz has published more than forty novels some of which have been translated into German, French, Russian, Korean and Japanese. He also wrote the script for the Legion of the Damned game (i-Phone, i-Touch, & i-Pad) based on his book of the same name--and co-wrote SONY's Resistance: Burning Skies game for the PS Vita.

Dietz applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, The Mutant Files; Deadeye, and reported the following:
Detective Cassandra Lee of LA’s Special Investigative Section has built a fierce reputation taking down some of the city’s most notorious criminals. But the serial cop killer known as Bonebreaker—who murdered Lee’s father—is still at large. Officially, she’s too personally involved to work on the Bonebreaker case. Unofficially, she’s determined to hunt him down, no matter what the cost.

In the meantime, duty calls when the daughter of Bishop Screed, head of the Church of Human Purity, is kidnapped by mutants and taken into the red zone to be used for breeding. In order to try and rescue her, Lee must find a way to trust her new partner—a mutant lawman named Deputy Ras Omo—who will try to guide her through a dangerous land where women are bought are sold.

That’s a broad overview of the story—and here’s what happens on page 69:
McGinty sighed. “The bishop has a point you know... Female norms have been kidnapped and taken into the red zone for use as surrogate mothers. Let's say you're a mutant, you're wealthy, and you hope to produce a normal child. A paid or forced surrogacy is the only way to accomplish that... And given the risk of contracting B. nosilla while in the red zone--very few norms are willing to go there for money."

Lee had heard of such kidnappings but believed them to be rare. The people who ran the Republic of Texas wanted to prevent such crimes lest they be used as an excuse to declare war. The Aztec empire made no secret of its desire to take large chunks of Arizona and Texas back-- so the last thing the Republicans needed was a conflict with Pacifica. "Yes, sir," Lee said. "The surrogate thing is a possibility. But first things first."

"Such as?"

"Such as talking to those bodyguards. Plus it seems safe to assume that the surrounding stores are equipped with security cameras. So I'll want to review any footage they have. When did the kidnapping take place?"

"Yesterday," McGinty replied. "At 3:36 PM."

"So detectives responded? If so, I'll need to read their reports."

McGinty nodded. "One thing though..."


"Detectives Yanty and Prospo were assigned to the case. They won't like being taken off of it by the Chief--and they won't like being replaced by you."

Lee frowned. "Me? What did I do?"

McGinty stood. "You're a member of the S.I.S. and a publicity hound... That's the way they're likely to see it."

Lee rose as well. "So what am I supposed to do?"

McGinty shrugged. "Do what you always do... Solve the case."
Note: That’s page 69 of what I have but--that could shift slightly when the actual book comes out. As it happens this chunk of text would give a reader a sense of who Cassandra Lee is, her relationship with her boss, and the kidnap case that’s she working on.
The Mutant Files trilogy will continue with Redzone and Graveyard. For more about Dietz and his fiction, visit his website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Andromeda's Fall.

My Book, The Movie: Andromeda's Fall.

The Page 69 Test: Andromeda's Choice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 24, 2015

"My Chemical Mountain"

Corina Vacco trespassed on toxic land and wrote the first draft of her debut novel, My Chemical Mountain, while parked in her car at the foot of a radioactive landfill—this book went on to win the Delacorte Prize for a First Young Adult Novel, was a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, and made the shortlist for the 2014 Green Earth Book Award.

Vacco applied the Page 69 Test to My Chemical Mountain and reported the following:
My Chemical Mountain is a gritty, coming-of-age story about three boys whose lives have been poisoned, physically and emotionally, by a toxic landfill at the edge of their blue-collar town. The boys boldly swim in the chunky orange waters of Two Mile Creek, race their dirt bikes on Chemical Mountain, and claim the industrial yards as their territory. But the main character, Jason, quietly rages against wealthy and powerful Mareno Chem, the company that’s responsible for the gruesome death of his father and for the inescapable pollution that has seeped into every corner of Jason’s life. He wants revenge, but revenge comes with a price—and more than one person will pay…

From page 69:
It’s windy tonight. I stand under a busted streetlight at the edge of the industrial yards. I have on a black sweatshirt and my best jeans. I can’t stop moving, jumping in place, kicking little chunks of asphalt. I look in the direction of Val’s street, but it’s so dark, she could be ten feet away and I wouldn’t be able to see her. I turn toward the creek. Tonight the water is alien-green, softly glowing—it couldn’t have been more perfect. I wish I’d told Val to bring her swimsuit.

“Hey, you.” Val sneaks up behind me and puts her arms around my shoulders. “I brought sandwiches and a big bag of corn chips. I forgot something to drink, though.”

The last thing on my mind is food.

We climb through a torn section of the chain-link fence. Val snags the knee of her pink exercise pants, but she doesn’t make a big deal of it. We walk to the creek and sit quietly on the water’s edge.

“The water is so pretty tonight,” she says. “Is this what you wanted to show me?”

I turn on my flashlight and hand it to her. “Hold this for a second. I’ll be right back.”
Page 69 is representative of the book in setting and tone. It takes place at the edge of horribly-contaminated Two Mile Creek, the boys’ favorite summer hangout, and Jason thinks nothing of bringing a girl to its shores on a first date! This page also sets up one of my favorite scenes, in which Val pages through Jason’s sketchbook full of monsters, into which he’s channeled so much of his anger.

“You felt like this?” she asks him upon seeing the scariest monster of all. “Sometimes,” he tells her.

The next morning, Jason will break into the Mareno Chem building. But on this night, he’s not going to feel scared about that. On this night, there’s a first kiss, and Jason shows Val a special place hidden below the industrial yards…
Visit Corina Vacco's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Alex as Well"

Alyssa Brugman was born in Rathmines, Lake Macquarie, Australia in May 1974. She attended five public schools before completing a Marketing Degree at the University of Newcastle. In 2014 she was awarded a PhD in Communication from Canberra University.

Brugman has worked as an after-school tutor for Aboriginal children. She taught management, accounting and marketing at a business college, worked for a home improvements company and then worked in Public Relations before becoming a full-time writer. She currently runs a small business providing hoofcare, equine rehabilitation and producing nutritional supplements for horses.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Alex as Well, and reported the following:
I don’t have a copy of the US edition, but in the Australian edition, on page 69 the reader discovers that when Alex (the male Alex) doesn’t take her medication, she grows breasts. Alex is intersex, but she doesn’t know.

Initially this manuscript was an exercise in unreliable narration, and specifically how do you tell a reader things that the character doesn’t know. I studied a range of narrative devices that could be applied for this purpose and on this page is an example.

“And it doesn’t cross my mind to make a connection between these little buds of breasts and the medication I’m not taking.”

If it doesn’t cross the character’s mind then how can she tell the reader? This sentence exists outside the story. It doesn’t occur inside the character’s head, and it has no place within the timeframe of the story. It is discourse. It’s an authorial utterance, rather than a character one. When you see discourse embedded in a story it is generally because the author has information that needs to be imparted to you, the reader, at this time in the story, because it’s preparation for something coming up.
Visit Alyssa Brugman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Alex as Well.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"The Ghosts of Heaven"

Marcus Sedgwick was born and raised in East Kent in the South-east of England. He now divides his time between a small village near Cambridge and a remote house in the French Alps.

Sedgwick is the winner of many prizes, most notably the Printz Award (Midwinterblood), the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Blue Peter Book Award. His books have been shortlisted for over thirty other awards, including the Carnegie Medal (five times), the Edgar Allan Poe Award (twice) and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (five times). In 2011 Revolver was awarded a Printz Honor.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Ghosts of Heaven, and reported the following:
I love the concept of The Page 69 Test. I have a strange fondness for arbitrary things in general and when it comes to writing, I like arbitrary things even more. There is so much that is subjective about writing; as a writer, it is almost impossible to separate your work from your psyche, from your unconscious thought processes, and very often, as you work, decisions you make about story-telling may seem utterly arbitrary. Occasionally, they might genuinely be so, but very often they’re not. Sometimes years have to go by before you realise that a decision you took was not at all arbitrary but in fact had to be that way, for reasons of story logic, of the truth of what you were trying to do. So given that so much of writing is subjective, I like anything that even makes a stab at providing objectivity, and that’s why something that is genuinely arbitrary, or random, feels like a friend. So thank you for asking me to look at page 69 of my new book, The Ghosts of Heaven.

If it’s true that the DNA of a story runs through every page, it must also be true that some pages show it off a bit more obviously that others. The gods of writing have smiled on me, for page 69 of The Ghosts of Heaven (in the US edition) is for me one of the central ideas in the book. The book is split into four sections, each a novella in its own right, and each is a musing over the image, and meaning, of the spiral. The first part, set in the Neolithic age, is called Whispers in the Dark, in which the protagonist is a teenage girl who is on the cusp of making the link between a mark and the spoken word. When she does so she will effectively have invented writing, a step in our evolution without which civilisation could not have come to exist. The fact that she’s a teenage girl is yet again not arbitrary, nor is it some sop to those who think books for young people have can only be about young people, an idea that drives me crazy, rather it’s because I’ve been thinking for some time about the role of the teenager in our evolution – something I wrote about at length here.

Page 69 comes from the closing pages of this section of the book, in which the unnamed girl finally makes the connection. She’s unnamed very purposefully – how do we know what the names and the languages of our Neolithic ancestors were, or even sounded like? Any attempt to guess would, I felt, have been clumsy and embarrassing. In order to avoid such matters, I chose to make another deliberate decision, to write this part of the book in blank verse, to hopefully mysterious air to it, and distance us somewhat from the Modern.

So, being in verse, page 69 is fairly short, and yet it says everything I wanted to say in this part of the book. Since it’s short, here’s the whole thing:
She sees the sand by the fire-pit,
back at the camp.
She sees her stick-tip in the sand,
and now she finally knows what it means.
What it could mean,
to make a mark in the sand.

If there was a way,
she thinks.
To make a mark in the sand.
And that mark to be known by all.
And that mark to have a meaning.
A meaning known to all.
There could be different marks
for different meanings.
Then there could be a mark to mean go
and one to mean follow
and one to mean find
and one to mean help.
And then, she thinks,
there could have been a mark to mean run!
And if she had made that mark in the sand,
then her people might have seen it
and run,
and not died in the sand
by the dying fire pit.

Now that she understands,
it seems so easy.
Writing, language, speech – it’s so easy to take these things for granted, to forget that without words we would be nothing and would have nothing. It’s these things that lifted us from the bestial and that have provided us not only with civilisation, but with the most entertaining, enlightening and transcendent aspects of it.
Visit Marcus Sedgwick's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"The Deep"

Nick Cutter is a pseudonym for an acclaimed author of novels and short stories. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Deep, and reported the following:
I wouldn't say page 69 of The Deep is particularly representative of the book, no. Ultimately, if the book had an underlying theme, it would go along the lines of "Nick grapples with the birth of his son, being a father, and trying to cope with the enormity of responsibility that involves." Of course you might be thinking, "Nick, this book takes place at the bottom of the ocean—how can that be the subtext?" To which I might say, Well, horror takes many different manifestations and perhaps the truest horror comes from trying to grapple with those quotidian day-to-day things that actually terrify you most deeply, like wondering if you're the right person to be raising this tiny life. That, infused with the constant worry that I seem to feel every waking minute (or I did while I was writing the novel, when my son was younger and liable to tumble down the basement stairs or stick his tongue in a light socket or spike a fever that had us rushing to the ER) is what this book is really about, subtextually. The idea of losing that which is most precious to you, and being somehow responsible for it in some way. These were completely new fears to me, and they were the ones I ended up investigating in this book, along with the more obvious fears humankind might feel 8 miles below the ocean's surface: darkness and pressure and claustrophobia.
Visit Nick Cutter's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 19, 2015

"Fear the Darkness"

Becky Masterman grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and received her MA in creative writing from Florida Atlantic University. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Fear the Darkness, the second book in the Brigid Quinn Series, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“These things happen with equivocal death. Guy pushes his wife down the stairs. Kid road trips her dad who’s got dementia and says he must have wandered away...”

“Equivocal death. Sounds like Brigid Code for murder. Chilling. I’m chilled.”
In my first thriller, Rage Against the Dying, I introduced Brigid Quinn, a 50-something (emphasis on something) retired FBI very special agent. In that story, Brigid got herself in trouble with the one serial killer she had failed to catch during her career. But the thing about Brigid is that, always a loner, she was never part of the world she sought to protect. In Rage she learned what it’s like to be a wife. In Fear the Darkness, she makes her first friend.

The passage quoted above is a bit of dialogue between Brigid and her friend Mallory Hollinger, a wealthy Tucson socialite. Wry, occasionally snarky, and just as vibrant, Brigid says that Mallory is like her, except for the angst.

Is it a thriller? Well, throw in a borderline crazy mother who refuses to believe her son’s drowning was accidental, a visitor who introduces evil to Brigid’s otherwise peaceful home, a pug who may have been poisoned, and some symptoms that make you wonder if super woman Brigid herself hasn’t had a dose of kryptonite, and you have the makings of something more than your average women’s novel.
Learn more about Fear the Darkness at Becky Masterman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rage Against the Dying.

The Page 69 Test: Rage Against the Dying.

My Book, The Movie: Fear the Darkness.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 17, 2015

"Before I Go"

Colleen Oakley is an Atlanta-based writer. Her articles, essays, and interviews have been featured in the New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, Marie Claire, Women’s Health, Redbook, Parade, and Martha Stewart Weddings. Before she was a freelance writer, Colleen was editor-in-chief of Women’s Health & Fitness and senior editor at Marie Claire.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Before I Go, her debut novel, and reported the following:
At first glance page 69 isn’t a thorough representation of the book — it’s the middle of the scene where my protagonist Daisy and her husband Jack meet with the radiation oncologist to discuss options for treatment for Daisy’s stage 4 cancerous death sentence. It’s pretty serious and somber, without any of the levity or comic relief found throughout the rest of the book. At this point Daisy is convinced the test results must be wrong — that they’re not even hers — while Jack is searching for facts, details, more information.

But upon further reflection, it’s a pretty solid representation of two of the themes in the book — Daisy’s in denial about what’s really happening to her and is hyper-focused on something that’s not relevant. In the book, she’s hyper-focused on finding Jack a new wife. In this scene, she’s hyper-focused on the fact that the test results are inaccurate. Also, Daisy and Jack aren’t on the same page going into this meeting— and struggle to connect throughout the book, even though they have such a close loving, relationship. As cancer can do, it creates a wedge between them, each one dealing with Daisy’s diagnosis in their own way.
Visit Colleen Oakley's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 16, 2015

"After the War Is Over"

Jennifer Robson is the international bestselling author of Somewhere in France.

She holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from Saint Antony’s College, University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar and an SSHRC Doctoral Fellow.

Robson applied the Page 69 Test to After the War is Over, her second novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
The Earl of Cumberland
requests the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of his sister
Lady Elizabeth Adelaide Sophia Georgiana Neville-Ashford
Mr. Robert Graham Fraser
The Church of Saint Mary Magdalene
Haverthwaite, Cumbria
Saturday, the twenty-first of June
One thousand nine hundred and nineteen
Eleven o’clock in the morning

Breakfast to follow
Cumbermere Hall

At exactly eleven o’clock, the landau glided to a halt in front of the ancient parish church of St. Mary Magdalene. Charlotte waited for the footman to help Edward and Lilly descend, then came forward to embrace the bride.

“You look beautiful,” she said truthfully. “Let me straighten your gown and veil before we go in.”
Page 69 of After the War is Over begins with a wedding invitation. The bride and groom will be familiar figures to anyone who has read my previous book, Somewhere in France, but they are not the central characters in the scenes that follow. Instead, Miss Charlotte Brown is our heroine, and although she is the maid of honor at the wedding, she sees herself as an outsider at the festivities. She is the bride’s closest friend, but she was also once her governess, and in the eyes of many of the wedding guests is little more than a servant. As the wedding begins, she is feeling tremendously apprehensive – but for reasons that are far more complicated than any nerves over lingering social awkwardness.
Visit Jennifer Robson's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Robson & Ellie.

My Book, The Movie: After the War Is Over.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"The Providence of Fire"

Brian Staveley is the author of The Emperor’s Blades, first book of the epic fantasy trilogy, Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne.

Staveley has taught literature, religion, history, and philosophy, all subjects that influence his novels, and holds an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University. He works as an editor for Antilever Press, and has published poetry and essays, both in print and on-line. He lives in Vermont with his wife and young son, and divides his time between running trails, splitting wood, writing, and baby-wrangling.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Providence of Fire, volume 2 in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Laith raised an eyebrow, then jerked a thumb at Tan. “This guy says the city’s older than dirt and you want to set up camp in a crumbling cliff? What about something less likely to fall on our heads?”

“I want the high ground,” Valyn replied.

“For what? Hunting rats?”

Valyn bit back a sharp retort. “Yes, for hunting rats. It’s a cliff, Laith. Cliffs don’t just fall over.”

The flier just gestured to the scree scattered across the valley floor, some boulders the size of small houses.

“The cliff is sound,” Tan said. “And the kenta is inside.” As if that settled the whole matter.

“That’s what we came for,” Valyn added. “Now move. Light’s wasting and we’re standing out here like geese.”
So what the hell have we got here?

An ancient city built into a crumbling cliff.

Anxiety about pretty much everything: the cliff crumbling, night falling, snipers lurking…

Growing discord between the various characters.

And maybe, just maybe, the first glimpse of one of the kenta, the mysterious Csestriim gates.

I’d say these elements do a surprisingly good job hinting at what readers can expect from The Providence of Fire: more exploration, more danger, more discord, and more of the Csestriim, a race that may not be quite as dead as we had hoped. The one crucial thing missing from this excerpt is Adare, the daughter of the murdered emperor, who plays a much larger and more crucial role in this volume than in the first. Prepare yourselves, folks: this book is bigger than The Emperor’s Blades by about 25%. It’s also faster, bolder, more brutal, and, if the early reviews are to be believed, far, far more unexpected. Fire, after all, is a fickle, dangerous mistress.
Visit Brian Staveley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Save Me"

Kristyn Kusek Lewis is the author of the novels Save Me (2014) and How Lucky You Are (2012), both from Grand Central. A former magazine editor, she has been writing for national publications for nearly twenty years.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Save Me and reported the following:
From page 69:
I take a deep breath and get out of the car…I made a conscious decision to not analyze what I’m doing, but walking through the parking lot, I can’t help but start. I’m so angry and yet…I love him. I want to help him. I feel out of place and like this is the only place where I can be. The voice on the phone—the only man I’ve ever really loved, my husband—needs me. I need to be needed. Am I here because it’s good for him or good for me?
Daphne Mitchell, the main character in Save Me, is reeling. The book is about the disintegration of a marriage, a tragic accident, and ultimately, forgiveness. Daphne is blindsided at the beginning of the book when her husband tells her he’s met somebody else, and in the course of her grappling with what to do with his confession, something else happens that sends her sinking further. You know that feeling that you had as a kid, bodysurfing in the ocean, when a wave would break over your head and send you tumbling under the surf and you weren’t sure for that split-second whether you’d ever break the surface? That’s where Daphne is emotionally on page 69.
Visit Kristyn Kusek Lewis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Elizabeth Heiter likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range.

Heiter applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Vanished, and reported the following:
Vanished is the second novel in my Profiler series following FBI profiler Evelyn Baine. Eighteen years ago, Evelyn’s best friend disappeared. Now, the Nursery Rhyme Killer is back – and if Evelyn doesn’t catch him, she may be the next to disappear.

Here’s what happens on page 69:
Suddenly everyone seemed to be moving at once, in different directions. The men on her left spun to face Jack, knocking her backward.

She stumbled, and righted herself just as a cloud of pepper spray dispersed into the air. It filled her lungs, making her cough with every breath. Her eyes burned, watering until it was hard to see.

The crowd moved fast to get away from it, shoving and pushing away from the station, and Evelyn went down hard on one knee. She tried to get to her feet, but the crowd suddenly shifted again as a gunshot rang out. Someone slammed into her, and she fell to the ground. Then all she could do was curl up and try to protect her head, hoping she wasn’t about to get trampled.
At this point in the book, Evelyn is back in Rose Bay, a small town where too many of the residents are hiding dark secrets. When the Nursery Rhyme Killer – who abducted three girls eighteen years ago and then disappeared – grabs a new victim, old prejudices simmer back to the surface, and violence erupts. Just like she did eighteen years ago, as the best friend of the final victim, Evelyn finds herself in the middle of it.
Visit Elizabeth Heiter's website and watch the book trailer for Vanished.

My Book, The Movie: Vanished.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 12, 2015

"Another One Bites the Dust"

Chris Marie Green is the author of the urban fantasy Vampire Babylon series and the Jensen Murphy, Ghost for Hire series, which features a fun-loving spirit from the 80s.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her newest novel, Another One Bites the Dust, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Another One Bites the Dust:
From the outside, the house made me sigh.

A cottage twenty minutes and a world away from my death spot. It reclined on a small hill in a peaceful, swanky, more residential part of the Elfin Forest area, boasting a private driveway. Quaint primrose paths wound their lazy way toward a porch with an actual old-fashioned swing.

All fairy tales and Leave It To Beaver reruns, I thought as I listened to the faint murmur of a creek nearby. The rustle of leaves from the protective oaks that stood over the house only gave it more of a homey feel.

“Somebody has to live here,” I said. “This can’t be abandoned.”

Fake Dean strode right up to the entrance, reached into the porch lantern, took out a key, then unlocked the door and walked inside, just as if he were totally normal.

Not a ghost, I reminded myself. He could unlock doors, touch things.
Page 69 is the start of chapter 5 in this book, which is a sequel to the first installment in the Jensen Murphy, Ghost for Hire series (Only the Good Die Young). In this second outing, the heroine, a spirit from the 1980s, is looking for a new home to “haunt,” and another spirit, whom she calls “Fake Dean,” is helping her find it. The thing is, this other spirit isn’t a normal ghost at all—he’s mysterious and has powers beyond Jensen’s own abilities; he also comes to her in the form of her old boyfriend and refuses to show her his true face or tell her his real name. She’s not sure just what he is, but he’s always trying to lure her into his “star place,” a domain where he collects other ghosts. (If he weren’t so appealing, he’d be scary!)

As if finding a new home wasn’t time consuming enough, Jensen is also aiding a human in solving a possible future crime. You see, Jensen’s main focus in Boo World is to haunt confessions out of people who may or may not have committed a crime; however, in this book, she’s haunting a man who has the temperament to kill someone, and if she can prevent a murder, she’s damned well going to do it.

By the way, Jensen is rather sensitive about murders, seeing as she was a victim of one herself. As a matter of fact, she was hunted by a masked serial killer in Elfin Forest, and she’s also doing her best to find out who killed her. She has no idea who her assailant was, thanks to the killer’s mask as well as a mental block that hasn’t allowed her to remember many details from that dark night. Although she’s making progress with the help of a psychic medium, Jensen wonders if she’s always going to remain a victim herself, doomed to remain in limbo…
Visit Chris Marie Green's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Only the Good Die Young.

My Book, The Movie: Only the Good Die Young.

My Book, The Movie: Shadows Till Sunrise.

Writers Read: Chris Marie Green.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"Little White Lies"

Katie Dale's debut novel was Someone Else's Life. She lives in England.

Dale applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Little White Lies, and reported the following:
Little White Lies is (perhaps unsurprisingly, given the title) a novel filled with deception. Characters lie to each other, conceal their true identities, and hide their motivation throughout – even, sometimes, from the reader. The story centres on eighteen-year-old Lou Shepherd, who takes the opportunity of starting at university to reinvent herself. She dyes her hair and changes her name in an attempt to hide her past – but then she meets a guy who’s doing exactly the same thing, for very different reasons. Why does Christian clam up every time Lou asks about his past? Why doesn’t he have any family photos, why does he never go out in the evenings, and why does he dye his blond hair black?

Page 69 is a perfect example of how Christian’s secretive nature often gets him into big trouble. The scene follows a break-in at the pub Christian works at. His keys were found at the site, and he can’t come up with an alibi…or can he?
“You weren’t mugged? You didn’t go out? You didn’t see anyone else at all? No one who could have stolen your keys?”

“No.” Christian sighs heavily, his face creased with misery. “I must’ve dropped them.”

“And no one can confirm your whereabouts during the time of the break-in? No deliveries? No phone calls?”

“Yes, actually – loads of phone calls.”

I look up quickly. Does he have an alibi?

“Who called you?”

“Well, I-I don’t know,” Christian admits. He must mean the nuisance taxi calls, I realise.

The policeman sighs. “You had lots of phone calls, but you don’t know who from?”

“Well, yes…”

“So you can’t contact them to prove this?”

I watch a bead of sweat trickle down the side of Christian’s face as he falters helplessly.

“Well, no, but – ”

“Would you mind coming down to the station please, sir?” the officer says. “I have a few more questions I’d like to ask you. You might want a lawyer present.”

My heart beats fast. He’s going to arrest him!

“Wait,” Christian says suddenly. “That’s…that’s not necessary. Can I have a word?”

“Certainly, sir.”

Christian glances at me and Mike. “In private?”

The officer raises an eyebrow. “Very well. Follow me.”

I stare after them as they enter the pub. What can Christian tell them that will make any difference? How can he possibly get out of this?
But get out of it, he mysteriously does. And as Christian’s secret is finally unveiled in front of the whole world, it seems everything he’s ever told Lou is a lie. Can what the media are saying about him really be true? Should Lou trust him? Or is she in grave danger? For what if their chance encounter was no accident at all…?
Visit Katie Dale's website and view the Little White Lies trailer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 9, 2015

"Dead is Better"

Jo Perry earned a Ph.D. in English, taught college literature and writing, produced and wrote episodic television, and has published articles, book reviews, and poetry.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, novelist Thomas Perry. They have two adult children. Their three cats and two dogs are rescues.

Perry applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Dead Is Better, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Detective Lee brought up the possibility that a reward posted by the family, a substantial reward, might help the police in their effort to gain information. Someone who knows something might be incentivized to come forward.”

“What about the gun?” Sheila asks. “Can’t they find fingerprints and other information from the bullets?”

Alan nods but looks at Sheila as if she’s a moron.

“Good question Sheila, but unfortunately, bullets don’t hold prints. I think you mean casings, but the police didn’t find any. Or the gun. The bullets removed from Charles’s body were distorted, but according to Detective Lee’s partner, Detective Sullivan, they came from revolver. A .32. Six shots at close range.”

I hadn’t thought about the holes in my gut until now. Six. That’s overkill, isn’t it? Whoever shot me wanted to make sure I’d never get up again. I study the living faces but their placid self-interested expressions remain opaque.

The dog sails from the table and drifts down onto the lawn like a butterfly or a feather, and then she begins to roll. There is a rustle of papers as the wind and Serena reappear, she with a silver tray holding coffee cups, cream and sugar, the wind with a filthy plastic bag that has risen from the streets far below us and positions itself in the thorny bougainvillea, then flaps around.

“The reward. How much? Five,” my shit brother Mark says. “Five” is statement, not a question.

Alan stands as he gathers the papers into his briefcase. “Fifty. Fifty might shake something loose.”
On page 69 the narrator, a dead man, is observing his relatives meet with his lawyer to discuss his estate. A reader opening this page would learn that the narrator was murdered, that he doesn't know who killed him or why, that the police don't know who killed him either, and that he isn't particularly fond of of his family, especially his brother.

The dog floating around is dead, too. The narrator isn't the only ghost. What page 69 doesn't tell you is that from the moment he finds himself in the afterlife, his companion is a dead dog. This dog is as much a mystery as the narrator is, and just as important to the story. Maybe more important.

The reader might get some faulty impressions, too--that the book is a procedural. It's not. It's a different kind of mystery.
Visit Jo Perry's website.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Better.

Coffee with a Canine: Jo Perry & Lola and Lucy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

"The Rosie Effect"

Graeme Simsion is a former IT consultant and the author of two nonfiction books on database design who decided, at the age of fifty, to turn his hand to fiction. His first novel, The Rosie Project, was published in 2013 and translation rights have been sold in over thirty-five languages.

Simsion applied the Page 69 Test to his latest novel, The Rosie Effect, and reported the following:
I’d written half of this post when I realized I’d been working with the UK edition – which has a slightly different layout and thus different page numbering (the story’s the same but lifts have turned into elevators and colours have become colors). Suffice to say that in that version, Page 69 is a crucial turning point in the novel, and I had plenty to say.

But Page 69 in the US version is also an important moment in setting up the story –and perhaps more typical of what readers will find in the book as a whole. Don’s unreliable, philandering friend Gene arrives to share their apartment, having been thrown out by his wife. Let’s pick a couple of moments that tell us something of what Don’s about.

Don doesn’t wait long before offering Gene some advice. After noting that Gene has put on weight, and recommending that he schedule some jogging, Don assumes the role of marriage counselor.
“Draw up a spreadsheet. On one side you have Claudia, [your kids], stability, accommodation, domestic efficiency, moral integrity respectability, no more inappropriate conduct complaints, vast advantages. On the other you have occasional sex with random women. Is it significantly better than sex with Claudia?”
Advice is a central theme of the novel: Don dishing out his hyper-rational science-based solutions, and his friends trying to help him navigate the unfamiliar territory of human relationships. Then there’s the internet. And the social worker. And the lactation consultant.

Back on Page 69, Don’s not finished.
“I’m a bit jet-lagged. Not sure what time my body thinks it is,” says Gene.
Don suggests alcohol as a way for Gene’s body to be reminded that it’s evening. And of course, he shares a drink or two with his newly-arrived buddy. Don’s supposedly rational behavior often has an element of self-interest. He drinks quite a lot in this book, and I’ve had people say, “That’s unrealistic. People on the autism spectrum (which almost certainly includes Don) don’t drink.” Or “Okay, I guess some people on the spectrum drink, but it’s not typical.”

So what? Don is not supposed to be typical of anything. I know that many have said that The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect have given them insights into high-functioning autism / Asperger’s Syndrome, but if they want to know what’s typical, they would be better with a textbook. I feel no obligation to make my character “average” in any sense.

Don has a reason for drinking that many of us will recognize: it helps him relax in social situations. Although on a couple of occasions I’ve indicated that Don is intoxicated, I’ve avoided using it as a source of comedy: Don creates enough without needing to resort to the ‘funny drunk’ formula.

Rosie is on Page 69, too. She’s not on every page (nor was she in The Rosie Project) and I know that causes some grief to readers of chick lit who are used to never having the female protagonist out of frame. But Don’s our narrator here, and sometimes he goes out with the boys, just as our chick lit protagonists have coffee with their girlfriends.

On Page 69, Rosie is getting a bit frustrated with Don: “I suspected that her level of satisfaction had dropped.” We shouldn’t be surprised: Gene’s arrival was unannounced – forbidden even – and Rosie is not fond of Gene, who also happens to be her PhD supervisor. Don has just that day moved them to another apartment as a ‘surprise’ for Rosie. Rosie has just found out why the rent is so low: the rock band upstairs.

Rosie and Don make up quickly this time, but it’s a hint of what’s to come. Not all plain sailing, but without conflict we’d have no drama and no comedy. The drama of living together is different from the drama of falling in love. And if you’ve read The Rosie Project and want to know how The Rosie Effect is different, you have your answer, right there on Page 69.
Learn more about the book and author at Graeme Simsion's website and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Rosie Project.

The Page 69 Test: The Rosie Project.

Writers Read: Graeme Simsion (October 2013).

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Woman with a Gun"

Former trial attorney Phillip Margolin has been writing full-time since 1996. Most of his many novels have been New York Times bestsellers.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Woman with a Gun, and reported the following:
This should be the page 68-69 test. Those two pages at the beginning of Chapter Ten of Woman with a Gun are definitely representative of the book and would keep a reader reading on. The scene is set at the beginning of a Death Penalty murder case that results in womanizing District Attorney Jack Booth’s complete humiliation at the hands of defense attorney Kathy Moran. Instead of concentrating on problems he might have with his case, Jack is focusing on getting Kathy into bed. Kathy, on the other hand, has done her homework in a case that Jack mistakenly believes to be open and shut.
Visit Phillip Margolin's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: Woman with a Gun.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 5, 2015

"Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman"

Tessa Arlen, the daughter of a British diplomat, had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Cairo, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to the U.S. in 1980 and worked as an H.R. recruiter for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job. She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Arlen applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, and reported the following:
Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman is a mystery of betrayal, blackmail and revenge set in 1912 Britain. The English aristocracy led such privileged and protected lives I wanted to stage a murder at the country house of one of their most elite families, causing embarrassment and scandal among a class of people who gave the meaning of the term ‘double-standard’ a gilt-edge.

Page 69 provides us with a useful glimpse into how upper servants regarded their role to the family they served. To say their loyalties were feudal is rather an understatement. In 1912 English servants to the aristocracy really knew their place! The family they served came first, often before their own welfare and certainly before their own concerns and needs. They were forbidden to marry and women servants were not allowed to have what were known as “followers.” In other words a maid could be fired for having a boyfriend. This unquestioning loyalty is demonstrated in the relationship between the mistress of the house and her housekeeper when they break with convention and unite in their own under-cover murder investigation.

On Page 69 the butler and the housekeeper learn that a dead man has been found on the estate. This news adds to the housekeeper’s anxiety for a fifteen year old housemaid who has been missing for most of the day. Despite the fact that the Iyntwood servants consider each other to be family, the butler unquestioningly puts his duty to his master before that of a mere servant girl, even though she might be in very real danger.
Whatever it was that Theo told Mr. Hollyoak, it was bad news of the worst sort, Mrs. Jackson grasped, as she watched the butler shrug himself into his morning coat and make for the scullery door with more haste than he usually employed. Convinced that Theo’s waxy-white face and agitated manner had something to do with Violet’s disappearance she hovered by the butler’s pantry waiting for Mr. Hollyoak to return. Her inner panic and horror knew no bounds when twenty-two minutes later he reappeared and told her that Theo had found a dead man in Crow’s Wood.

“Did he say who it was?” She had asked the butler the question a half-dozen times until she could tell by the set of his shoulders that she should not say another word on the matter.

“You are worried about Violet, aren’t you?” She heard kindly concern in his voice and nodded her head.

“I want to send Dick to the village to see if she’s with her father,” she said.

“Not yet, Mrs. Jackson, A man has been killed on the estate, a missing housemaid is of no consequence right now. We will wait until his lordship returns to the house and then we’ll see...”
Visit Tessa Arlen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 4, 2015

"A String of Beads"

Thomas Perry's novels include the Jane Whitefield series (Vanishing Act, Dance for the Dead, Shadow Woman, The Face Changers, Blood Money, Runner, and Poison Flower), Death Benefits, and Pursuit, the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for best novel.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, A String of Beads, and reported the following:
A String of Beads is my eighth book about Jane Whitefield. Jane is a Seneca Indian who lives a quiet life in Western New York with her husband, a Buffalo surgeon. But recently she has received an extremely rare visit from all eight of the Seneca clan mothers, who asked her to find a man named Jimmy who was a childhood friend. He has been accused of murder and disappeared, and they want her to find him and bring him back before he's arrested or killed. Jane has found him, but she's also noticed that the State Police are tracking them through the forest, so they've hopped a freight train heading toward home.

On page 69, Jane and Jimmy's train has pulled into a big freight yard at night, forcing them to get off. They find a Syracuse Post-Standard in a trash can, which tells them they've reached Syracuse. They're hungry and find a small pizzeria on a dark side street. Jane evaluates the place:
"Give me a few seconds." Jane stepped into the doorway, then stood still for a two count while Jimmy was still outside, partially shielded from view behind her. She scanned the people inside, saw nobody she knew, or whose face held an expression of recognition, and nobody who looked hostile. She saw a few women, which was good, because the presence of women usually discouraged the more extreme forms of male misbehavior. She saw a hallway at the back of the restaurant that led to restrooms, and another on the left leading to the kitchen. If they had to they could slip out through the exit that was sure to be at the rear of the kitchen. Jane stepped in, and Jimmy followed.
I'd say page 69 gives the reader a fair sense of what it feels like to be on the run with Jane, trying to avoid both the police and unknown enemies. It also shows how Jane thinks, and how she manages to keep her runners, if not safe, at least alive.
Learn more about the book and author at Thomas Perry's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 2, 2015

"Murder, She Barked"

Krista Davis lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Murder, She Barked, the 1st book in the Paws and Claws Mystery Series, and reported the following:
This scene takes place after Holly and Holmes find a corpse. The shopping bags were dropped on the front porch before they entered the house and called the police.

From page 96:
I understood all right, but some little part of me couldn’t resist the desire to point out his folly. “What about you?” Jerry was pretty hard on you this morning at breakfast.”

His pen stopped moving.

It would have been smart to let it go, but I didn’t. “I’m just saying that you should do what you have to, but of all the people in Wagtail, the three of us are about the least likely suspects. I didn’t even know of Jerry’s existence until I met him at breakfast this morning. And Holmes doesn’t live here anymore.”

“I have a flight out tomorrow morning,” said Holmes in irritatingly diplomatic fashion.

“Better make other arrangements,” said Dave. “I’d appreciate it if you would stick around for a few days.”

“Look, Dave, you know where to find me.” Holmes sounded reasonable, not at all agitated. “I have a job I have to get back to. It’s not like I’m a suspect.”

Dave stared him down without blinking. “I’m in charge here, Holmes. Don’t make me prove it.”

The thunder of heavy boots on the porch announced the arrival of backup police.

“You two get out of here.” Dave cocked his head toward the door.

We hurried out and picked up my shopping bags before the other cops piled in.

Dave flipped the screen door open so hard I though it might have cracked. “Hold it!”

What now? I had thought Dave was a decent guy, but he was turning into a domineering terror.

“Leave those here.” He gestured toward my shopping bags.

“Excuse me? I won’t have anything to wear.”

Holmes opened one and pawed through it. “Come on, Dave. It’s just undies and dresses.

My face burned, and I knew it must have gone bright red.

Dave relented. I could see it in his face.

But at that exact moment, one of the cops inside said, “Secure the premises.”

Panic invaded Dave’s eyes. He grabbed the bags and looked through them, turning redder than me when he lifted a lacy bra. Handing the bags back, he said, “Hurry.”
Visit Krista Davis's website.

Coffee with a canine: Krista Davis & Han, Buttercup, and Queenie.

The Page 69 Test: The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer.

--Marshal Zeringue