Wednesday, July 7, 2021


Tracy Clark is the author of the highly acclaimed Chicago Mystery Series featuring ex-homicide cop turned PI Cassandra Raines, a hard-driving, African-American protagonist who works the mean streets of the Windy City dodging cops, cons, killers, and thugs. Clark received Anthony Award and Lefty Award nominations for her series debut, Broken Places, which was also shortlisted for the American Library Association’s RUSA Reading List, named a CrimeReads Best New PI Book of 2018, a Midwest Connections Pick, and a Library Journal Best Books of the Year. In addition to her Cass Raines novels, Clark’s short story “For Services Rendered,” appears in the anthology Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors. A native of Chicago, she works as an editor in the newspaper industry and roots for the Cubs, Sox, Bulls, Bears, and Blackhawks equally.

Clark applied the Page 69 Test to Runner, her new Cass Raines mystery, and reported the following:
From page 69:
There was an unmarked cop car idling a couple slots from my car when I got to it, and I stopped to watch as Detective Dan Hogan got out and walked over to me.

“I know I said I didn’t mind the extra eyes, but things are getting a little crowded, aren’t they?” He said.

“I’m playing catchup,” I said. “Shaw seemed like an important person to talk to.”

“And? Did you get anything?”

“I think I would have gotten more if I’d been official.”

Hogan chuckled. “Missing that star, Raines?”

I shrugged. “Not really. Still, I got nothing from Shaw other than a lot of ass covering. He did his job – according to him, Ramona’s the problem.”

“I got that too last time out. I thought I’d come back and try again, see if he could tell me a little more.”

“Speaking of crowded fields,” I said. “Shaw’s spoken to Martini, did Martini mention that to you?” “Martini? What the hell was he doing here?”

“Maybe you should ask him?”
Page 69 of Runner marks the opening of chapter eight. There is only a half-page of text on page 69, but it shows my PI, Cass Raines, on the case and pushing forward. Cass is searching for 15-year-old Ramona Titus, who has run away from her foster home. She’s been in the wind for over a week.

Cass has just spoken to Ronald Shaw, the girl’s case manager at a for-profit agency that specializes in placing older kids in stable homes, but she suspects Shaw hasn’t told her the truth about his last contact with Ramona. Hogan, the detective working the missing persons case for CPD, is overworked and understaffed, and beginning to chafe at Cass’s encroachment. The Martini in question is Frank Martini, is a retired cop who spends his free time “helping out” on kid cases, using his numerous street contacts as sources when he should be fishing or playing golf.

Three detectives, one girl, no leads, at least up to page 69. At this point in the story, Cass is up against it. It’s the middle of a Chicago winter and Ramona is nowhere to be found. The clock is ticking. Page 69 is the build-up to a huge tension point in the book. Hogan’s feeling crowded, Cass has bupkis, Shaw is stonewalling her, and Martini is everywhere he isn’t supposed to be. But Cass is beginning to get the feeling, here on page 69, that her simple runaway case may not be all that simple. Ramona didn’t just run away, she fled. Why? And from whom? For the answers to those questions, you’ll have to make it to page 97.
Visit Tracy Clark's website.

Q&A with Tracy Clark.

Writers Read: Tracy Clark.

--Marshal Zeringue