Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"The Clockwork Dagger"

Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair outside of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

Cato applied the Page 69 Test to her 2014 novel, The Clockwork Dagger, and reported the following:
Heroine and healer Octavia Leander has just saved her roommate from the brink of death, and with the help of airship steward Alonzo Garret, she cleans up the scene of the crime.
“I’ll tend to it. You see a bit of everything on these ships.” Mr. Garret stood and unsnapped the canvas from the support poles around the bunk.

“Truly? You see that many attempted murders and medicians failing in their attempts to travel incognito?”

“I referred more to unusual stains and matters of laundry. As for your efforts to travel incognito, I can assure you, your presence has created an unusual fuss on board ship. You are the epitome of gossip right now.”

She harrumphed beneath her breath. “I might find that flattering if my friend hadn’t nearly died.” Tears flooded her eyes. “This is . . . we can’t keep this a secret, not because of me. There’s still a murderer on board.”

Mr. Garret folded the tenting and set it on the floor. He began to lift the sodden mattress and Octavia shook her head. “Wait a moment,” she said. “This won’t dry it to the center, but it will help.” She un-holstered her parasol and held the stick over the blood. Immediately the outer layer began to pale, the desiccated blood falling away in thick flakes like curling candle wax. His eyes widened.

“I never guessed that your medician wand was hidden there.”

“Good. I might keep some secrets from you yet.”
The book is inspired by Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, though my take is set on an airship. This page surprised me with how representative it is of my steampunk fantasy duology. It's a slower scene, coming right after intense action, but shows the growing relationship between Octavia and Alonzo. Octavia is the most powerful medician (magical doctor) in the realm. She knows that she was the intended murder victim, but has no idea why. This is the point where the stakes increase. Her secrets emerge, but so do her roommate's--and Octavia is going to find out she's caught in a snarled mess of political intrigue that is greatly complicated by the involvement of Mr. Garret.
Learn more about The Clockwork Dagger and the just-released The Clockwork Crown at Beth Cato's website.

--Marshal Zeringue