Tuesday, February 4, 2020

"All the Best Lies"

Joanna Schaffhausen wields a mean scalpel, sharp skills she developed in her years studying neuroscience. She has a doctorate in psychology, which reflects her long-standing interest in the brain―how it develops and the many ways it can go wrong. Previously, she worked as a scientific editor in the field of drug development. Prior to that, she was an editorial producer for ABC News, writing for programs such as World News Tonight, Good Morning America, and 20/20. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and daughter.

Schaffhausen applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, All the Best Lies, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Camilla sat on the cement steps with a baby boy in her arms, his expression blank and bewildered. She squinted in the sun her hair held back in a bandana, but her thousand-watt smile shone back through the ages. Reed’s chest tightened as he turned over the photo. Me and Joey, it said, and she’d drawn a little heart next to his name, rather like Tula liked to do when she fashioned Reed a homemade card. His throat thickened and he swallowed painfully as he righted the picture once more so he could see Camilla’s beaming pride. Love. He’d been loved at the start. This precious knowledge burst joy in his heart that quickly flared into an old, familiar shame, like this longing was a betrayal of his second family. He hurried to tuck the picture away.
This page 69 passage is a nice capture of some of the major themes of All the Best Lies. It shows FBI agent Reed Markham examining some faded photos in the cold case file of his mother’s murder. Camilla was stabbed to death when Reed was only a few months old, so he never got a chance to know her. The story is about Reed’s search to find his mother’s killer, but it’s also about Reed’s search for himself. He wants to understand his origins and know more about what his life might have been if he’d been raised by his biological mom. His adoptive family is not entirely comfortable with his quest for a variety of reasons, not least that they may know more about his mother’s murder than they ever revealed.

What is also fun is that these overlooked photos eventually provide Reed the answer to his mother’s fate. It is only after he learns more about Camilla and the people who surrounded her at the time of her death that he is able to see the truth in the pictures.
Visit Joanna Schaffhausen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue