Sunday, July 1, 2018

"Caught in Time"

Julie McElwain is a national award-winning journalist. Born and raised in North Dakota, she graduated from North Dakota State University, and moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for a fashion trade newspaper. Currently, she is an editor for CBS Soaps In Depth, covering the No. 1 daytime drama, The Young & The Restless.

McElwain applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Caught in Time, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Then build me a picture. Don’t lie or soften it. What was Mr. Stone like?”

He was silent for a long moment, staring at his tense hands. “Mr. Stone was complicated,” he finally said. “He could be in a jovial mood...”

“But,” Kendra prodded.

Biddle took the bait. “But his jovial mood often came at the expense of the mill workers.”

“How so?”

Biddle unlaced his fingers and spread his hands on the desk. “He was the manager of Bancroft Mill. We employ nearly three hundred workers, Miss Donovan. It’s the largest mill in the area.”

“I see. In other words, he held a lot of power.”

“Yes, he did.”

“And how did he use his power?”

Biddle pursed his lips as he considered the question. “He ... he enjoyed threatening workers with dismissal—without references. His humor could be cruel.”

“Cruel to you?”

“No.” He met her eyes, and shrugged. “I served a purpose, Miss Donovan. I handle the day-to-day operation of the mill,something which Mr. Stone had no interest in doing. He would never have dismissed me.”

Kendra wondered if that was true. No one was indispensable. And if Stone turned on his assistant of nineteen years, what would Biddle have done?

She asked, “Did he threaten to fire workers, or did he actually fire them?”

“Both. We’ve had to dismiss workers with the addition of new frames.”

“That must have angered a lot of your employees.”

“Yes, but Lord Bancroft was the one who made the decision to order them, not Mr. Stone. It is essential for progress, you must understand.”
Caught in Time brings back my protagonist, Kendra Donovan, who is a twenty-first century FBI agent inexplicably thrust into Regency England. She and her guardian, the Duke, are traveling to one of his estates in the north of England when they get waylaid by fog and the murder of a mill manager. This was a dangerous time between factory/mill owners and workers; emotions were running high. When Luddites attack a local mill and the manager is found bludgeoned to death, many in the village are quick to connect the dots. For Kendra, those dots are leading away from the Luddites. Once again Kendra is challenged by the lack of forensics tools in this era as well as the submissive role women were forced to play. My page 69 illustrates the procedural aspects to a criminal investigation. Victimology is important — understanding who the victim was and how that might have contributed to his/her death. Here we begin to see that the victim was a megalomaniac, who had more than one enemy. It is also the beginning of a dark and twisty road that Kendra will be propelled down, with some shocking revelations to her own circumstance in 19th century England.
Visit Julie McElwain's website.

--Marshal Zeringue