Saturday, July 11, 2020

"What You Don't See"

Tracy Clark is a native Chicagoan who writes mysteries set in her hometown while working as an editor in the newspaper industry. She is a graduate of Mundelein College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she earned her MA.

Since reading her first Nancy Drew mystery, Clark has dreamed of crafting mysteries of her own, mysteries that feature strong, intelligent, independent female characters, and those who share their world. Cass Raines, ex-cop turned intrepid PI, is such a character.

Clark applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, What You Don’t See, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Allen barreled into reception ahead of us, but there were no cops waiting. She gave poor Pamela the evil eye, heat oozing from every well-moisturized pore. “Well?” She made zero attempt to hide the nastiness in her delivery.

The rattled receptionist shot up from her chair. “They’re waiting in your office with Ms. Chandler. Should I…”

But Allen was gone, already stomping back toward whatever awaited her, determined it seemed to shut it down.

Ben let out the mother of all sighs. “I say we hang out here while whatever’s going on back there stops going on.” But I was already on the move, following Allen back. “Or, second thought, go back and see what’s going on.”

We were halfway down the hall when Chandler came rushing out of Allen’s office and saw us. “Philip Hewitt’s dead. Shot. Early this morning.” She swept past us. “I need to get his personnel file.”

We watched her rush into her office, then Ben and I exchanged a look that had years of knowing each other in it. When we came to a stop in front of Allen’s door. I peered inside to find Allen talking to two plainclothes detectives. I didn’t know the sensibly dressed Asian woman with the police star clipped to her belt, but I sure knew her partner. Detective Marcus Jones, who I hadn’t seen or heard from in two years, since the night I walked out on him. I registered the surprise first, then nausea flipped my stomach. I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing Marcus Jones again and not regretted it, but here he was. I could practically feel Ben’s mood change.

“Of all the gin joints. … This day will just not let up, and it’s not even ten o’clock yet.”

Though I was thinking the exact same thing, I kept my mouth shut. I just stood there in the doorway with Ben watching the cops, Allen, wishing I were someplace they weren’t.
On page 69 of What You Don’t See, the first murder has just taken place and the police have shown up to look for suspects and find out who might have wanted the victim dead. The lead detective on the case comes face to face with our protagonist with whom he shares a difficult and adversarial past, setting up a central conflict that plays out throughout the story. Page 69 is where the story shifts from a stalker case to a murder case and a simple bodyguard detail morphs into a race to unmask a craven killer. Page 69 clearly broadcasts to the reader exactly what genre they’re reading and highlights the book’s central goal, so it appears the test works fairly well for What You Don’t See.

I’ll tell you a bit about the book. What You Don’t See is book three in the Cass Raines Chicago Mystery series. In this installment, Cass, a former homicide detective turned PI, has agreed to help her ex-partner, Detective Ben Mickerson, work personal security for a prima donna magazine publisher named Vonda Allen. Allen is a real pill, haughty, imperious, demanding, and someone out there is stalking her, sending anonymous flowers and threatening notes written in red ink. Allen is spooked, but she refuses to involve the police, and Cass begins to wonder what secrets the Great Lady might be hiding. When those around Allen begin to die violently and when Ben is injured and his life hangs in the balance, Cass goes it alone to stop a killer before someone else dies.
Visit Tracy Clark's website.

Q&A with Tracy Clark.

My Book, The Movie: What You Don’t See.

--Marshal Zeringue