Thursday, December 19, 2019

"The Ninja Daughter"

Tori Eldridge is of Hawaiian, Chinese, Norwegian descent and graduated from Punahou School with classmate Barack Obama. She holds a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do Ninjutsu and has traveled the USA teaching seminars on the ninja arts, weapons, and women’s self-protection. Eldridge has performed under her maiden name (Tori Brenno) as an actress, singer, dancer on Broadway, television, and film.

Her debut novel, The Ninja Daughter, is the first book in the Lily Wong series and was inspired by her debut short story featured in Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2014. Other short stories have been published in several anthologies, and her screenplay The Gift earned a semi-finalist place for the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowship.

Eldridge applied the Page 69 Test to The Ninja Daughter and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Got it covered. But thanks for calling.”

Baba chuckled. “Your mother hired a caterer for the evening.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope. French cuisine. Dinner’s at seven, but she’s planning cocktails at six.”

Holy crap! I checked the time: five thirty. “Sounds great. I’ll see you soon.”

I ended the call and tapped the phone against my forehead.

How could I be so stupid? I was just about to sprint to my bike when I heard the garage door opening. Tran had returned. I did the math: thirty miles from Van Nuys to Arcadia would take three hours by bike, two hours by Metro rail, or forty-five minutes by car. Even if I yanked Tran out of his BMW, stole it, and drove now, I’d be at least fifteen minutes late. Five more minutes wouldn’t make a difference.

I took out the tracker. I had made my decision.

As Tran paused in the driveway, waiting for the garage door to raise, I shouldered my backpack. No matter what happened in the next thirty seconds, I would need to run, either for my bike or for my life; I wouldn’t have time to collect any possessions.

When the car rolled forward, I fell in behind and attached the GPS tracker under the bumper behind the wheel well. If the car had moved just a little slower, I could have darted away before it stopped. Instead, I got trapped on the side of the car. If I ran, the sensor would trigger, the door would stop, and I’d get caught. If I hid until he entered the house, I’d have to open the garage door to escape, and he’d know someone had been there. Since neither option appealed, I dove above the sensor lights at the floor of the garage and rolled onto the driveway.

I half expected gunfire to riddle the metal and tear into my flesh before the garage door finally closed, but that didn’t happen.
Page 69 is a perfect representation of The Ninja Daughter because it incorporates both action and family, which is exactly what you can expect from fast-paced mystery about modern-day ninja with Joy Luck Club family issues.

My ninja warrior sleuth, Lily Wong, is in a dicey situation with J Tran—the dangerous person of interest in this scene—when she receives a phone call from her father. Lily needs to plant a tracking device on Tran’s car, and her window of opportunity is shrinking. This page features two of the most prominent characters in the book: the mysterious and lethal J Tran and Lily’s beloved North Dakota Norwegian father. There’s even reference to her Hong Kong mother, who is featured heavily in the novel.

And to make this page even more perfect we see that Lily moves around Los Angeles via bike, Metro, and rideshare. The fact that she considers yanking Tran out of his car let’s us know that she doesn’t have one of her own. This begs the question: How does “a heroine for the #MeToo era” (Library Journal starred review) rescue and protect the women of Los Angeles without a car?!

There’s a wealth of character and plot information hidden in this page that even includes an example of ninja skill and awareness when Lily dives over the garage sensor and rolls out of sight.

And to top it off, the page ends with Lily “half expecting gunfire to riddle the metal and tear into my flesh before the garage door finally closed.” Perfect!
Visit Tori Eldridge's website.

--Marshal Zeringue