Thursday, May 19, 2016

"City of the Lost"

Kelley Armstrong graduated with a degree in psychology and then studied computer programming. Now she is a full-time writer and parent, and she lives with her husband and three children in rural Ontario, Canada.

Armstrong applied the Page 69 Test to City of the Lost, the first volume of the new Casey Duncan mystery series, and reported the following:
From page 69:
my path, so close I nearly ram into him. When I back up, he advances, uncomfortably close.

“Eric ...,” Anders says, his voice low.

“Did I give you an order, Detective?”

“Yes, but—”

“No buts. Either I gave you an order or I didn’t, and I don’t know how it works down south, but out here, you disobey an order, and you’ll find yourself in the cell until morning.”

Anders steps between us. He shoulders Dalton back, keeping an eye on him, much the way one might ease off a snarling dog.

“He’s kidding,” Anders says. “He’d only keep you in there until dinner hour.” A wry smile, and I’d like to think he’s kidding, but I get the feeling he’s not.

“I know you’ll want to come along,” Anders continues, “but you just got here. What we have out there is death by misadventure. Not homicide. Normally, that’d still be your gig. But let’s just hold off . We’ll bring the body back, and you can take it from there. Reasonable?”

I nod.

He looks at Dalton. “See how that’s done?” Then a mock whisper for me. “Reasonable isn’t really in Eric’s vocabulary. You’ll get used to it.”

The grin he shoots Dalton holds a note of exasperated affection, as if for a sometimes- difficult younger brother. Dalton only snorts and points at the back of the ATV.

“I thought I’d drive today, boss,” Anders says. “You hop on back.”

Dalton gets on the ATV and revs the engine.

“That means get on or I’m walking,” the deputy says to me. “Eric drives. Always.”

I nod. It’s not a tip about transportation. Employee relationships might be a little casual here, but Eric Dalton is in charge, and I’d best not forget it. Which is fine. That’s one reason I like being a cop. My brain understands paramilitary relationships, often better than normal ones.

Anders gives me directions to the station and then says, “Go directly there. Park out back and head in the rear door. Anyone flags
Sometimes the page 69 test works out well, and it did with this book. City of the Lost is a mystery set in a hidden town in the Yukon, where people go to disappear. The narrator, Casey Duncan, goes there when her past catches up with her. and it turns out her timing is perfect. As a homicide detective, she has no problem being admitted…because the town seems as if it may be in need of someone with her particular skills.

On page 69, she’s flown in with the sheriff, Eric Dalton. She’s literally just arrived and they’re met by the deputy, Will Anders, who reports that their “runner”—a resident who fled into the forest—has been found. Dead. Casey insists on going. Dalton refuses, and we get a bit of character work, seeing the interplay between Anders and Dalton, which tells Casey what she can expect in her new town.

Page 69 also give Casey—and the reader—a sense that law enforcement in Rockton may work a little differently. A place like this isn’t run by the rules one would find “down south” and if the sheriff wants to throw you in a cell for the crime of pissing him off, he can do that. Which may suggest that while this is a contemporary mystery, there’s an air of the Wild West about Rockton.
Visit Kelley Armstrong's website.

--Marshal Zeringue