Sunday, December 18, 2016

"The Edit"

J. Sydney Jones is the author of numerous books of fiction and nonfiction, including the novels of the critically acclaimed Viennese Mystery series, The Empty Mirror, Requiem in Vienna, The Silence, The Keeper of Hands, A Matter of Breeding, and The Third Place. He lived for many years in Vienna and has written several other books about the city, including the narrative history, Hitler in Vienna: 1907-1913, the popular walking guide, Viennawalks, and the thriller, Time of the Wolf. Jones is also the author of the stand-alone thrillers and suspense novels Ruin Value: A Mystery of the Third Reich (2013), The German Agent (2014), Basic Law: A Mystery of Cold War Europe (2015), and The Edit (2016). He has lived and worked as a correspondent and freelance writer in Paris, Florence, Molyvos, and Donegal, and currently resides with his wife and son on the coast of Central California.

Jones applied the Page 69 Test to The Edit and reported the following:
From page 69:

I cannot bring myself to deal with the Irish yet. I sit at my trestle table watching the jungle outside my windows, but I feel cut off from it. It is merely a surrealist painting.

This disconnected feeling has not overcome me for several decades, and of course it is Miss O’Brien’s doing. Why did she have to enter my serenity and destroy it with her snooping? Why did she have to spread her chaos into my well-ordered existence? My white-stucco home with its red-tile roof no longer feels like a fortress; the refectory table and priceless ladder-back chairs in the dining room no longer look as substantial as they once did. The two leather armchairs in front of my huge stucco fireplace no longer seem snug.

I have just returned from leaving food inside the door to the guest room on the second floor, and barely escaped with my life, for the Irish was waiting for me behind the door with a priceless copy of the Bible in her hands, which I leave in that room for the contemplative. To use such a sacred book as a weapon! The woman is insane. She would have struck me with it, too, if I had not instinctively sensed the danger and drawn back just as the book swept by my face. Miss O’Brien, thrown off balance by the force of the intended blow, tottered drunkenly past me, the Bible still gripped maniacally in her hands. I was able to wrestle it out of her clutches—no telling what she would have done with the lovely old thing—and shut the door against the tattoo that her fists beat on the wood as I left.

Clearly, I must find an alternate form of accommodation for her: She is much too loud and violent to be held in a conventional room. Fortunately, there are heavy metal shuttersoutside her windows, which I closed last night, locking them from the outside. The door to the room is a massive construction of oak planks held together by wrought-iron flanges. She is secure enough for the time being, but over the long haul?
The Edit is a novel about memory and the banality of evil. Senor X makes his living in the 1990s running a charter fishing boat in a nameless Central American country. But he is much more than a simple boat captain, as Irish-American journalist Kate O’Brien discovers to her peril. When the two meet, Senor X is in the midst of writing his memoirs, revealing himself as a high-ranking Nazi war criminal still on the run. When she accidentally reads some of this memoir and is discovered by Senor X doing so, O’Brien becomes his captive until he determines what must be done with her.

This excerpt takes place just following that dramatic incident, and Senor X realizes that he cannot simply keep O’Brien hidden away in a spare, upstairs bedroom. Instead, he soundproofs his basement as preparation for O’Brien’s new lodgings—a miniature concentration camp of his very own making. What he does not reckon on is the strength and spirit of his captive. Battling for her sanity and life, O’Brien makes a devil’s bargain: her cooperation in return for allowing her to edit Senor X’s memoirs. As a Kirkus Reviews critic noted of this novel, “Their relationship becomes a provocative test of wills, raising a disturbing question: which is the captive?” The critic concluded: “Jones brings deliciously dark humor to his psychological thriller, a worthy cousin to John Fowles’ classic The Collector.”
Learn more about the book and author at J. Sydney Jones's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue