Friday, June 5, 2015

"What Lies Behind"

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen critically acclaimed novels, including What Lies Behind, When Shadows Fall and All the Pretty Girls, and is the co-author of the A Brit in the FBI series with bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Her work has been published in more than twenty countries. Her novel The Cold Room won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Paperback Original, and Where All The Dead Lie was a RITA® Nominee for Best Romantic Suspense. She lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens, where she enjoys fine wine and good notebooks.

Ellison applied the Page 69 Test to What Lies Behind and reported the following:
I love this test. It’s fascinating to me, to see what the story says at this particular point in the narrative. As it happens, for once, I have a hugely compelling and important moment in the book on page 69. Former medical examiner, Dr. Samantha Owens, is dropping by a crime scene at the request of her friend, homicide lieutenant Darren Fletcher. The scene is a bad one, one victim murdered, the second clinging to life in a coma, and they are making their way through the apartment when Sam makes a discovery that changes the course of the investigation:
Most importantly, what was an undercover FBI agent doing in the apartment of a Georgetown University medical student?

She took a deep breath, trying to clear her head. Smelled something off, something close. Deeper than the tang of blood and the effluvia of dead bodies. Sweet, almost flower-like, but not. She couldn’t place it, had never come across the scent before. It wasn’t pleasant, and it wasn’t a natural part of the crime scene, she was sure. It smelled a bit like overripe honeysuckle, but sharper, with some mint, perhaps, both scents overlaid with a sickly rot that made her gorge rise.

Where was it coming from? She saw nothing unusual, or out of place, except for the copious streaks of blood.

“Fletch, come here. Do you smell anything?”

Fletcher breathed in deep. “Blood and gore and carpet cleaner. Maybe some old pot smoke. Bacon grease.”

“Nothing flower-like? Like old flowers left to mold in a vase of water?”

“Like the way patchouli smells? I’ve never liked it, but I can’t say—”

“No, that’s not it.”

Fletcher came closer, sniffing. “Ugh. Yeah, I smell it now. What the hell? It wasn’t here earlier.”

Sam edged to the breakfast bar, wrinkled her nose as the smell grew stronger. She looked closer at the bar. Runnels of blood had come off the counter, streamed down the paneling. There was a break in the blood, almost as if a ruler had been placed in the down flow and the blood had run over it in a perfect line.

“Do you have a Maglite?” she asked.

“Sure,” Fletcher replied, handing her the flashlight he’d stuffed in his jacket pocket.

She shone the light on the edges of the counter, then down into the paneling. In one small area, about twelve inches across, the blood dribbled into nowhere, just plain disappeared.
Now you have to turn the page to find out what she’s discovered, right?

I don’t often have such a monumental event on page 69, this is probably the second or third in 13 books. You just never know how the book is going to break down on the page.
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My Book, The Movie: What Lies Behind.

--Marshal Zeringue