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