Thursday, August 13, 2020

"Every Kind of Wicked"

Lisa Black is the New York Times bestselling author of 14 suspense novels, including works that have been translated into six languages, optioned for film, and shortlisted for the inaugural Sue Grafton Memorial Award. She is also a certified Crime Scene Analyst and certified Latent Print Examiner, beginning her forensics career at the Coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and then the police department in Cape Coral, Florida. She has spoken to readers and writers at numerous conferences and is one of two Guests of Honor at 2020 Killer Nashville.

Black applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Every Kind of Wicked, and reported the following:
On page 69 (at least of the ARC) forensic scientist Maggie Gardiner is at her office, the police forensics lab. It’s just before Christmas and, as in most offices, there is extra food and treats around so she can chow down and warm up after a trip in the county vehicle with its faulty heater. She has just been to the county medical examiner’s office to follow up on a case from that morning. A young man was found in downtown’s ancient cemetery, sprawled in the snow with what looked to be a single gunshot wound. He had no wallet, no identification save an employee’s ID tag that read “Evan” and a blank magnetic card with the local university’s logo on it.

But solving this murder already feels like more than a mere job to Maggie. The cemetery represents the first case that brought her into detective Jack Renner’s orbit, where a young, trafficked girl had been found. Jack and his extracurricular activities had taken care of the trafficker, but Maggie got caught in the process, and now she has been keeping his secret in order to keep her own. But it’s a tenuous truce at best, always ready to crumble under the weight of Maggie’s conscience or her ex-husband’s suspicion. Her ex is also a homicide detective and has made it his goal to detect where Jack came from and who he is.

While page 69 won’t tell you anything about Jack, it does tell you a lot about Maggie’s life as, aside from a snack, Maggie grabs the opportunity to decompress with her co-worker and BFF Carol. In a few sentences we see the variety of work the crime lab takes on; no matter how big or bizarre Maggie’s case may be, there are always other crimes to be dealt with at the same time. We get a hint of the equipment around her and how the lab is constantly humming—literally, as the machines work—with activity. After 25 years in forensics, I am proud to represent that steady, behind-the-scenes action on paper. At the bottom of the page Maggie tells Carol the really interesting thing about their dead guy: no ID, money, tattoos, or even jewelry—but a tiny key, taped to his ankle. Carol’s attention perks up at this discordant note and I hope it snags the readers as well.
Learn more about the book and author at Lisa Black's website.

Writers Read: Lisa Black (July 2020).

--Marshal Zeringue