Tuesday, April 16, 2019

"Come and Get Me"

Originally from central Indiana, thriller and mystery author August Norman has called Los Angeles home for two decades, writing for and/or appearing in movies, television, stage productions, web series, and even, commercial advertising. A lover and champion of crime fiction, Norman is an active member of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers, and Sisters In Crime (National and LA), and regularly attends the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his first Caitlin Bergman thriller, Come and Get Me, and reported the following:
From page 69:
She studied Greenwood’s face, still unsure of his motivation. The man was likeable, good-looking, and obviously gave more of a damn about his job than most people she knew. But he’d been selling her something since the first time they’d met. Was it Nothing to see here, or Look closer? And if it was Look closer, why couldn’t he do it himself?
Caitlin and Mary found a spot on the back wall of the conference room. Despite the short notice, the press conference’s available seats had been filled by broadcast outlets from Indianapolis, print reporters from surrounding counties, and a single student-journalist: Lakshmi Anjale.

The sheriff’s department displayed a poster-sized image of Paige Lauffer taken at the bar where she worked. Sheriff Hopewell started strong in front of a wall of law enforcement—several deputies, Jerry Greenwood, two uniformed BPD officers, and two state troopers. The FBI duo stood near the far wall, removed from the company front of reassurance. Hopewell gave the essentials, and then a female deputy took over. When the standard questions from the pros fizzled, Caitlin sent Lakshmi a text: Now.

The girl’s hand shot up. “Deputy, do you believe Paige Lauffer’s disappearance is related to Angela Chapman’s in any way?”

No surprise from the deputy. “Not at this time.”

Lakshmi pushed. “I recognize two FBI agents in the room—Agent Mark Christiansen from the Bloomington resident agency—and Special Agent Antoine Foreman from Indianapolis. Can you comment on their involvement in this investigation?”

The crowd’s necks craned toward the agents. Caitlin caught the slightest smile on Jerry Greenwood’s lips.

The deputy at the podium paused for only a moment. “Of course, the FBI has extended all of their available tools to help bring Paige Lauffer back to us.”

“That’s wonderful,” Lakshmi said, “but it seems unusual that an agent who specializes in the profiling of serial killers would be enlisted to locate a missing person in Monroe County unless there was some evidence, or at least suspicion, of foul play. Could either of the agents comment on their involvement?”

Mary put her arm around Caitlin. “Where did you dig that up?”
In Come and Get Me, investigative journalist Caitlin Bergman returns to her college for an honorary degree after dropping out twenty years earlier, only weeks from graduation. What starts as a search for closure to a long untended trauma leads to a full-blown investigation into the two-year-old disappearance of a female student. To help the missing girl’s family find closure, Caitlin must partner with the same police department that once victim-shamed her out of town. From all appearances, the modern department has grown with the times, and her charming handler, Detective Jerry Greenwood, has included her in an active investigation, going so far as to take her along to local crime scenes.

At first, the usually fearless Caitlin struggles with PTSD symptoms awoken by her return to campus and reconnecting with her former roommate Mary, now head of the journalism department, but she’s bolstered by the youthful determination of Lakshmi Anjale, Mary’s best pupil and best friend of the missing student.

Up until Page 69, she’s gathered the scattered pieces politely, never challenging the police department’s official findings, but now she’s ready to go on the offensive. A second female student has disappeared and a press conference is called. When everyone else finishes with the standard who, what, when, and where, Caitlin has Lakshmi, now working as her shadow, challenge the authorities, calling out the involvement of an FBI serial profiler and alleging a connection between the two disappearances.

If Detective Greenwood thought he was manipulating a broken woman, page 69 is where he learns that Caitlin Bergman doesn’t slow down, broken or not. It also announces Caitlin’s presence to a much more dangerous adversary, one who will ultimately make the trauma of her past seem like a minor irritation.
Visit August Norman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue