Tuesday, April 24, 2018

"Mind of a Killer"

Simon Beaufort is the pseudonym of Susanna Gregory and Beau Riffenburgh when they write jointly.

Beaufort applied the Page 69 Test to Mind of A Killer and reported the following:
Page 69 of Mind of a Killer doesn’t reveal any dark secrets, but it does grab the essence of one of the book’s subplots.

The story takes place in London in 1882, when Alec Lonsdale, a junior reporter for The Pall Mall Gazette, begins to suspect there was more to a fatal house fire than a simple accident. Slowly, he becomes convinced that the victim was murdered and the house set ablaze to hide the fact. He and his colleague Hulda Friederichs investigate, and uncover a series of seemingly related murders. From the fashionable mansions of Bloomsbury to the dank lanes in Bermondsey that even the police won’t enter, the pair seek answers to give them a sensational story and help build their reputations.

Lonsdale and Hulda do this despite the police trying to suppress the investigation, and having to overcome roadblocks from another alarming place: their own editor. But were the editor’s reservations about the story actually a surprise?

At the time, The Pall Mall Gazette was a small, but politically influential, evening newspaper, the editor of which, John Morley (later the government’s Chief Secretary for Ireland), believed that its pages should be reserved for helping readers understand ‘great affairs’, such as the ‘Irish question’. Inexplicably, Morley had hired as his assistant editor the liberal firebrand W.T. Stead, who later helped bring American-style sensationalism to the British press.

Page 69 shows the interplay between Morley, who thinks a murder investigation lowers the tone of his newspaper, and Stead, who sees the investigation as part of The PMG’s moral obligation. In the middle of this debate are the dedicated Lonsdale and the impetuous Hulda, trying to put forward their points of view. Will Stead convince the editor to approve the investigation, will the pair be reassigned to write theatre reviews, or will Lonsdale have to result to nefarious means to follow the trail of a killer?
Visit Simon Beaufort's website.

--Marshal Zeringue