Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"What Remains of Me"

Alison Gaylin's debut book Hide Your Eyes, was nominated for an Edgar Award in the Best First Novel category. Her critically acclaimed suspense novels have been published in such countries as the UK, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway and Japan.

She has been nominated for the ITW Thriller, Anthony and RT Awards and won the Shamus Award for And She Was, the first book in the Brenna Spector series. Her books have been on bestseller lists in the US and Germany.

Gaylin applied the Page 69 Test to her ninth book, a standalone suspense novel entitled What Remains of Me, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“They do that for suicides?” Shane said. Stupid thing to say. He didn’t even know why he’d said it. It was as though his mouth was moving of its own accord, reality knocking into him like waves. His parents’ home. The big window overlooking the canyon that he used to press his nose against, Flora complaining about the prints. And in it, in this place that used to be his whole world… Crime scene tape. Police uniforms brushing by, staticky radios. The click of cameras. White gloved hands. And then, his mother in a white silk robe on the red couch by the window, doubled over, collapsed…

“Mom.” Shane moved toward her, Bellamy sticking close behind. “Mom.”

Her head lifted, very slowly. She looked up at him, her mouth a trembling line, eyes like smashed glass. For a few seconds, it seemed as though she didn’t recognize him. Then she whispered his name.

Shane tried to think of the last time he’d seen his mother. Had to have been at least a year ago. He’d gone to one of her charity luncheons and she’d greeted him with a big smile, a hug. She never changed, Mom. Not before today. But now, it was as though someone had scooped all the life out of her. “You’re here,” she said…
In 1980, Kelly Lund, then 17, is convicted of murdering a famous director. The story goes back and forth between 1980 and 2010, when, five years after serving her prison term, Kelly is suspected of committing a similar crime -- the victim this time her father-in-law, movie legend Sterling Marshall.

Page 69 of the book takes place in 2010, and is told, not from Kelly’s point of view but through the eyes of her husband (and Sterling’s son) Shane Marshall. In it, he has recently learned of his father’s death, and believes it to have been a suicide.

At first, I wasn’t sure whether this page was representative of the book. But looking at it closely, I realize that thematically speaking, it is. In the scene, Shane is seeing his normally content mother completely changed. That happens throughout WHAT REMAINS OF ME. Every character has deep, dark secrets that, once revealed, change lives irrevocably. By the book’s end, nearly everyone has had “the life scooped out of them,” and emerges a changed person, whether it’s because of a traumatic event, a lie coming back to haunt them -- or learning, at long last, the ugly truth.
Learn more about the book and author at Alison Gaylin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Into the Dark.

--Marshal Zeringue