Saturday, September 29, 2018

"What She Gave Away"

Catharine Riggs is a former banker, educator and nonprofit executive. What She Gave Away, her first work of psychological suspense, features an outsider with a dark past and a bitter grudge who moves to a wealthy beachside community only to find herself enmeshed in the secrets of her boss and his hapless wife.

Riggs applied the Page 69 Test to What She Gave Away and reported the following:
What She Gave Away is a novel of psychological suspense told from the alternating perspectives of two first person narrators, Crystal and Kathi, the hunter and the hunted. Page 69 is representative of the book in that it lands at a crucial first meeting between the gullible housewife, Kathi Wright, and the suave conman Arthur Van Meter. Kathi’s life has devolved since the mysterious death of her husband, a former bank President now accused of elder abuse and fraud. Her primary coping mechanism is denial, so she has dealt with the tragedy by spending money she doesn’t have and drowning in goblets of chardonnay. On page 69, she’s attempting to purchase a few household staples at the posh neighborhood grocery store.
I pick up a dozen items, including a few cans of cat food, and wait in a rather long line. The checker looks trendy and cool, her black-and-purple hair shaved to stubble on one side. I smile and swipe my debit card, and the checker rolls her heavy-lidded eyes.

“Declined,” she says in a dull voice. “Try again.”

“But I just got a new one.”

“Did you call it in?”

“Yes, but...” I don’t need to run my card a second time to know what has happened. How could I have drained my account so quickly? I could swear I didn’t spend more than $5,000 on my recent visit to Saks.

“Do you have another card?”

I rifle through my wallet, but all I find are frozen credit cards and a five-dollar bill.

“I’m sorry,” I say, humiliated, as the line behind me grows. “I’ll put the groceries away and come back later.”

“Right,” the girl mutters under her breath.

“No need for that,” a man’s voice booms from behind. “I’ll take care of this.” I look up to find Eileen’s handsome husband standing beside me waving his card. He swipes before I can blink.

“Why, thank you,” I stammer. “But there’s no need...”

He taps in his PIN and then turns to me with a grin. “Now let me help you with your bags.”
Unfortunately, Crystal’s voice is not represented in the passage and she is vastly different from her prey. She grew up in a broken family in central California and spent a few years in juvenile hall before moving to Santa Barbara to take a job as a loan analyst in a community bank. I’ve included a short passage so a reader can get a feel for her voice and perspective.
A girl dances past me in a tiny black dress that barely covers her crotch. She bumps against Tyler and laughs. Then she bumps against him again. She’s pretty but slutty in a way I don’t like. I pick up my beer and finish it off and begin a round of my favorite game. What’s the worst thing that could happen to that girl? What would destroy her life?
Visit Catharine Riggs's website.

My Book, The Movie: What She Gave Away.

--Marshal Zeringue