Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"Really Truly"

Heather Vogel Frederick is the award-winning author of the Mother-Daughter Book Club series, the Pumpkin Falls Mystery series, the Patience Goodspeed books, the Spy Mice series, and Once Upon a Toad.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Really Truly, the newest Pumpkin Falls mystery, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Gotta make hay while the sun shines,” Aunt True had said.

Good call, I thought, eyeing the throng of customers. Belinda had volunteered to man the fort so that my father and aunt could spend the afternoon at the lake, and she’d corralled Augustus into helping. He was holding court over at Cup and Chaucer, dispensing beverages along with recommendations for books — most notably his own.

“I see you like Earl Grey tea,” I overheard him tell an older lady who was hanging on his every word. Augustus had a lot of fangirls. “You may enjoy my own Earl of Hearts.”

I smothered a grin. I’d have to tell Hatcher about that one later.

“It’s too crowded to meet here,” said Calhoun, glancing around.

I agreed. “The library is open. How about we go there?”

The library was usually closed on Sundays, but Mr. Henry and the staff had decided to keep it open for race day, so that visitors could use the restrooms. No unsightly porta-potties for Pumpkin Falls, no sirree. We headed back down Main Street toward the village green. Our town’s lone police car was parked outside the library. Inside, we found Officer Tanglewood at the front desk, chatting with Mr. Henry.

Officer Tanglewood smirked at us. “Well, if it isn’t Nancy Drew and – what is it you call yourselves? The Pumpkin Falls Private Eyes?”
I have to admit, my expectations for this page 69 exercise were pretty low. Surprise! I was gobsmacked to find that taking a slice right out of the middle really does give a flavor of the whole book. Here, the reader meets, directly or tangentially, a total of eight characters – from the narrator and main character, Truly, to the oh-so-quirky Augustus (Wilde, local celebrity author). The book has a large cast, and this page reflects it. We also sample not one but two different settings – Lovejoy’s Books, the family-run shop where much of the story’s action takes place, and the local library, another favorite hangout for Truly and her friends. And we glimpse the wider setting that embraces both of those spots, the town of Pumpkin Falls. Given the mention of the lone police car, astute readers will surmise that it’s probably a small town, and they’d be right. Finally, the mention of “Nancy Drew” and the “Pumpkin Falls Private Eyes” hints that there may be a mystery afoot. (Spoiler: There is.) On balance, I’d give this exercise high marks.

What readers won’t glean from this page is an unexpected twist that’s just around the corner for Truly, when she ventures away from Pumpkin Falls for the first time in the series. Good thing she does, though, because it’s while she’s on Cape Cod at Sirena’s Sea Siren Academy – better known as mermaid camp – that she first learns that one of her ancestors may have been a pirate....
Visit Heather Vogel Frederick's website.

--Marshal Zeringue