Thursday, April 15, 2021

"Titan Song"

Dan Stout lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he writes noir with a twist of magic and a disco chaser. Stout's stories have appeared in publications such as The Saturday Evening Post and Nature. He is the author of The Carter Archives, a series of noir fantasy novels from DAW Books.

Stout applied the Page 69 Test to the new title in The Carter Archives, Titan Song, and reported the following:
From page 69:
I slipped back out the door and into the living area, where Jax crouched beside Donna, his voice calming as he told her she’d done the right thing by calling us.

“We both wanted to see the Barekusu come to town,” she said. “Now Saulie’s not gonna be there, and it’s my fault. We were gonna go down the street and be there when the procession came in.”

The phone sat on an end table. There wasn’t any blood on it. From what I’d seen in the bedroom, she’d have gotten gore all over the phone. She must have cleaned her hands after coming out of the bedroom.

“They’re beautiful,” she said. “All them Barekusu, coming in from the ice plains. They’re finally gonna make sense of this town.”

I stared at the sink. The liquid that covered the dishes wasn’t red sauce.

“It’s gonna be beautiful,” Donna said, “just beautiful.”

She closed her eyes, letting her hair hang down like a curtain. Jax looked at me. I nodded, and in a softly musical voice, he told Donna her rights.
This is an interesting one! Page 69 of Titan Song features two detectives on the scene of a newly-discovered murder. As the level of violence involved sinks in, the killer talks about the beautiful future of the city, creating a contrast of optimism and sorrow. In that way, it’s a very good encapsulation of the tone of the book, and the Carter Archives series.

But at the same time, most of the book is spent on chasing killers, rather than the moment of capturing them. The inevitable accumulation of hints and allegations, clues and misdirections. Those classic detective whodunnit moments make up most of a mystery, with the solutions only coming along often enough to keep the characters marching on, moving relentlessly toward the conclusion.

So this glimpse of the story is very accurate in tone, and less so in terms of action. The question it raises is, I suppose, what is the story about? I think a reader's answer to the question of whether the Page 69 test works in this case would depend on whether they believe Titan Song is about the hunt for a killer or the way that beauty and sorrow intertwine.

I've got my own thoughts, of course. But I like to think that each reader will have their own opinion by the time they've finished the book!
Visit Dan Stout's website.

The Page 69 Test: Titanshade.

The Page 69 Test: Titan's Day.

Q&A with Dan Stout.

--Marshal Zeringue