Friday, November 8, 2019

"Echoes of the Fall"

Hank Early lives in central Alabama with his wife and two kids. He writes crime, watches too much basketball, and rarely sleeps. His new book, Echoes of the Fall, is his third Earl Marcus novel.

In a previous life, he published horror as John Mantooth.

Early applied the Page 69 Test to Echoes of the Fall and reported the following:
I like to think page 69 of my latest Earl Marcus mystery, Echoes of the Fall, does three things pretty well. First, it clarifies for the reader and Earl exactly why a dead man has ended up in his front yard. Well, maybe not exactly, but it offers a strong nudge in the right direction.
He’d clearly been coming to see me, most likely to hire me. But for what? Could he have wanted me to investigate the Harden School all along?
The Harden School is an all boys’ reform school nestled deep in the North Georgia mountains. Except there is much more to the school than meets the eye. Page 69 also has Earl making the connection between the secretive school and local politician and his arch nemesis, Jeb Walsh. Earl has just discovered Jeb’s son is a student at the school and his ex-wife has filed multiple complaints about the school’s teachers and administration.
This last piece might have been the most intriguing, suggesting a complex and vast picture that could actually mean something good for this whole county if I could assemble it and use it to somehow bring Walsh down.
Earl has just found his goal, the mission that will propel him and the reader through the rest of the novel.

The third thing page 69 does is pull in Earl’s chaotic sidekick, Ronnie Thrash. While Earl is busy assimilating these new tidbits of information, Ronnie has been trying to tell him about something he just witnessed when they were briefly separated on the campus of the Harden School:
“You ain’t been listening to a damn word I’ve been saying, have you?”

“Huh?” I realized we were almost to Ronnie’s place. The old church was in sight.

“I was telling you about the weird stuff I witnessed in front of the school.”

“What weird stuff?”

Ronnie blew out a long sigh. “Jesus H. Christ, Earl, you are as bad as child sometimes. You mean to tell me you ain’t heard none of what I was saying?”

“I heard… some of it,” I said.

“About the band?”

“Oh, I got that.”

“So where did you stop listening?"
The page ends right about there, but Ronnie goes on to describe a strange encounter with one of the students, during which the student babbles almost incoherently about “Indians and his sister.” The kid is visibly upset, and Ronnie senses that there is something sinister at work here, though it will take both he and Earl’s most diligent efforts to find out just what it is.

Overall, I was really pleased with the results of my Page 69 Test. It allows the reader to get just a glimpse of the powerful forces at work in the novel, while experiencing a side of Ronnie Thrash’s irrepressible personality, as well as a hint at the deeper, more esoteric secrets that haunt the Harden School.
Visit Hank Early's website.

--Marshal Zeringue