Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Into the Black Nowhere"

Edgar-winning novelist Meg Gardiner writes thrillers. Fast-paced and full of twists, her books have been called “Hitchcockian” (USA Today) and “nailbiting and moving” (Guardian). They have been bestsellers in the U.S. and internationally and have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Into the Black Nowhere, her newest book, is the second novel in the UNSUB series, featuring rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix.

Gardiner applied the Page 69 Test to Into the Black Nowhere and reported the following:
Into the Black Nowhere is a psychological thriller. Women in Texas are disappearing on Saturday nights, and rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix and the Bureau’s Behavioral Analysis Unit fear that a serial killer is stalking the dark roads outside Austin. They profile the perpetrator as a confident, meticulous man who’s able to gain his targets’ confidence and grab them in plain sight. As the clock ticks down to the next Saturday night, the case turns into a cat-and-mouse pursuit of a cunning and devious killer.

On page 69, Caitlin and her colleagues examine some of the meager evidence in the case: CCTV footage from a parking garage. The video shows a victim speaking to the killer moments before she’s abducted. Frustratingly—and deliberately—the killer stays offscreen, out of sight of the camera.
Caitlin focused on the screen. This time as she watched, she tried to read the missing woman’s body language.

Teri went toward the unseen speaker willingly. Why did she nod and agree to the UNSUB’s request? What ruse did the killer use to lure her away?

By the time Teri walked out of frame, her posture indicated complete disarmament. When she’d first walked on-screen, it was different. She had her car keys out and raised—ready to hit the alarm if anything seemed sketchy. She was prepared to respond to sudden threats—like any self-aware big-city woman.

She still had the keys raised, and between her fingers, like claws, when she first turned. Then she lowered them. She showed ... concern. And ... emotional discomfort?

Caitlin watched again. Between the time Teri was first startled and the time she lowered the keys, her shoulders dropped. Her head tilted to one side, in an attitude people frequently adopted when speaking to small children or whimpering animals. It was more than mere concern. It was ... pity?

“The ruse he used convinced her he was more than just harmless. It convinced her he was damaged,” Caitlin said.
The scene gives a good sense of the book: the tension and fear the case evokes; the way Caitlin and the BAU must analyze a victim’s behavior to develop a picture of the killer and hunt him down. If a reader opened the novel to page 69, I hope they’d keep reading.
Learn more about the book and author at Meg Gardiner's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: UNSUB.

--Marshal Zeringue