Sunday, December 11, 2016

"Bronx Requiem"

John Clarkson is the author of several thrillers and crime novels published in the late 90's, and the early 00's. During the day, he ran a boutique advertising firm, then a private marketing and advertising consulting firm. He has worked directly with corporate clients such as NewPower, Chase Manhattan and E*Trade Financial where he helped create the notorious E*Trade Baby.

Clarkson applied the Page 69 Test to his latest novel, Bronx Requiem, and reported the following:
This is a cool premise for a blog question. Page 69 in Bronx Requiem happens to be the beginning of Chapter 10. The type layout makes this a half-page, so I have only half of what might normally be in play to represent the book. Fine by me! I believe most readers decide whether or not to read a book in the first paragraph. I know there are agents out there who say they only need the first ten words or so to decide if they want to keep reading. It’s tough out there.

A little background: Bronx Requiem is the second book of a new series featuring protagonist James Beck, a fairly normal guy, who is unjustly incarcerated. He spends eight years in the searing hell of N.Y. State maximum security prisons before he wins his release. It changes him profoundly, and like most ex-cons, innocent or guilty, makes him an outcast. Beck leaves prison determined to be the man he wants to be, living by his own moral code, sticking to a tight-knit group of outcasts – ex-cons like himself. He rejects what he considers the fake morality of society. He refuses to be oppressed by law enforcement, or anybody for that matter. Fortunately, Beck is smart enough and resourceful enough to pull this off.

Of course, not a single word about any of that is mentioned overtly in the Beck novels. We get to sit back and watch this “philosophy” unfold.

In Bronx Requiem, one of Beck’s closest friends, a man who helped him survive prison, has just been released on parole. Before Beck can help him build a new life outside, he’s murdered. On page 69, Beck and his guys arrive at the Bronx housing project where they will begin finding out who killed their friend, Packy Johnson. One of Beck’s guys, Demarco Jones, does most of the talking, providing background and history on the housing project, but underlying the back and forth we see that Demarco is also trying to control Beck. To stop him from rushing into the project. In between the lines, we see the danger around the corner. I think every scene in a crime thriller should either advance the plot or reveal character. Page 69 does both.
Visit John Clakson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue