Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"One Or the Other"

John McFetridge books include a trilogy of novels set 1970s Montreal featuring a young police constable named Édouard “Eddie” Dougherty: Black Rock (2014), A Little More Free (2015), and One or the Other.

McFetridge applied the Page 69 Test to One Or the Other and reported the following:
From page 69:
Caron had stopped by the bar and was talking to a waitress who was wearing a see-through nightie and nothing underneath. She was carrying a round tray with a highball glass on it and motioning to a table in the back corner of the bar and saying, “Peut-être une heure.”

Caron said, “Tout seul?” He was looking at a piece of paper the waitress had handed him, turning it over, looking at both sides.

“Juste lui et Melodi et Tom Collins.” She looked up at Dougherty and winked and said, “Je ne suis pas occupé.”

“Tant pis pour moi,” Dougherty said. “I’m working.”

“You don’t work all night, come back.”

“You’ll still be here?”

“Si tu reviens.” Then as Dougherty followed Caron she said, “See you later.”

As Caron led the way into the back corner of the room, even darker than the area by the stage, he handed the piece of paper to Dougherty. It was the band from a pile of bills, the words Royal Bank printed on it in blue.

In the corner a man was sitting with his back to the wall staring up at a young woman who was dancing — or at least moving a little — her naked crotch inches from his face.

“Okay,” Caron said, “la danse est fini.”

Dougherty put his hand on Melodi’s arm and they were eye to eye. She said, “No touching.”

“Time for a break.”

She got down off the little stand and picked it up, grabbing a folded-over bundle of bills from under one of the legs and her high-heeled shoes and shrugged at the guy as she walked away saying, “See you later.”

Caron said, “Come with us.”
Montreal 1976. The city is only a few months away from hosting the Summer Olympics and Constable Eddie Dougherty has been assigned to the task force investigating the robbery of a Brinks truck that netted almost three million dollars. Mostly Dougherty is being used as the muscle, shaking down the known criminals and chasing every lead in town.

On page 69 Dougherty and Detective Caron visit a strip club. They’ve received a tip that a man has been peeling brand new twenty dollar bills from a roll and buying a steady stream of table dances. And drinks.

It’s early in the book so Dougherty hasn’t started the serious questioning of his role as the bad cop in these encounters but he will soon. He’ll also be assigned to a hopeless murder investigation – the bodies of two teenagers have washed up on the shores of the St. Lawrence river. They may have been thrown from the Jacques Cartier bridge but they may have jumped. Or it may have been a murder-suicide. What it certainly isn’t is a priority.

One Or the Other is a police procedural and over the next 322 pages Dougherty will continue to work the Brinks robbery, take some shifts on Olympic security (including some undercover) and search down every lead on what he believes is the murder of two teenagers. So, yes, page 69 is representative of the rest of the book and I hope if someone skimmed that page they’d be curious enough to keep going.
Visit John McFetridge's website.

The Page 69 Test: Black Rock.

--Marshal Zeringue