Monday, June 14, 2021

"The Bone Field"

Debra Bokur is the author of The Fire Thief and The Bone Field (Dark Paradise Mysteries, Kensington). She’s traveled the world as a writer, journalist and staff editor for various national media outlets, with more than 2,000 print pieces carrying her byline to date. Her work has garnered multiple awards, including a 2015 Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism. For more than a decade, she served as the poetry editor at a national literary journal, and her poetry and short fiction have been widely published. Among her favorite writing credits are a series of original literary essays commissioned by the Celestial Seasonings tea company that appeared on the artfully illustrated boxes of ten separate tea flavors. She continues to travel in her capacity as the Global Researcher and Writer for the Association for Safe International Road Travel, and as a monthly columnist for Global Traveler Magazine.

Bokur applied the Page 69 Test to The Bone Field and reported the following:
From page 69:
Kali laughed. “For crying out loud, Chad, how many times does someone need to explain to you that having a blog or a podcast or whatever the hell…”

“Blogcast,” said Chad, his voice smug.

“… does not make you a journalist?” she finished. “Let’s see some credentials. I’ll let you slide if you show me a diploma with a journalism degree, or a press pass from an accredited news association—not something you generated online and printed out in a fancy font.”

“I have an Emmy nomination for my role as an investigative journalist.”

From a television show!” Kali nearly shouted. She took a deep breath, trying to control her mounting annoyance. “And I don’t believe you actually won the award, did you?”

“Oversight and politics,” he said, completely unruffled.

Tomas intervened. “Okay, that’s enough. All of you, stay on that side of the tape. That includes you, Mr. Caesar. No pictures. No recording. As I’ve already said, an official police statement will be issued later today. Understood?”

“Freedom of information, officer!” yelled the man standing next to Chad. “You can’t stop the people from learning the truth! It’s your job to protect us!”

There was more agreement from the others, this time louder. The women in the blue skirts laid their signs on the ground and joined hands with one another, raising them above their heads. One of them bowed her head and began to pray aloud.
I’m going to take my chances here and say I think the Page 69 test works pretty well. It reveals the thread of chaos running through the cold cast murder investigation, and gives a brief flash of the female members of an old cult that features prominently in my detective’s quest for answers.

In this scene, local celebrity Chad Caesar, a television actor turned podcast host, has managed to find his way to the crime scene—an abandoned pineapple field on Lānaʻi Island. He’s attracted a crowd that’s begun to disrupt the investigation. The police team working at the crime scene has just discovered a new and particularly disturbing gravesite. Detective Kali Māhoe and Officer Tomas Alva are doing their best to rein in the bedlam that’s recently been created by Chad’s on-air sensationalism of the case. They know the killings involve a symbol and possible ritual. They know there are ties to an ancient Hawaiian legend about man-eating demons. They’re certain an old religious cult plays some part. But how it all ties together remains a mystery, and the distraction generated by Chad Caesar isn’t helping.

The character of Chad Caesar was a sort of afterthought, but he’s become one of my favorites to write. Because the series plays constantly on the contrast between the beauty and surface tranquility of the Hawaiian landscape and the pervasive existence of darkness and evil, I wanted to find a way to occasionally build in lighter moments. Not exactly comic relief, but a character who—though actually a really nice, clueless kind of guy—manages to add unwittingly to the challenges faced by Kali. Unlike most of the people who know Chad (or at least his public persona), she’s immune to his movie-star good looks and trademark charm. He doesn’t understand how this can possibly be, so all of their encounters contain a different, less intense sort of tension that shifts the focus briefly away from the grimness of whatever case she’s working on.
Visit Debra Bokur's website.

Q&A with Debra Bokur.

The Page 69 Test: The Fire Thief.

My Book, The Movie: The Fire Thief.

Writers Read: Debra Bokur.

My Book, The Movie: The Bone Field.

--Marshal Zeringue