Monday, May 23, 2022

"Two Nights in Lisbon"

Chris Pavone is the New York Times–bestselling author of The Expats, winner of the Edgar and Anthony awards for best first novel, The Accident, The Travelers, and The Paris Diversion.

His novels have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and IndieNext; have won both the Edgar and Anthony awards, and have been shortlisted for the Strand, Macavity, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize; are in development for film and television; and have been translated into two dozen languages.

Pavone applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Two Nights in Lisbon, and reported the following:
On page 69, the protagonist Ariel Pryce has shown up at a restaurant to confront two Lisbon detectives. Earlier in the day, she'd gone to the station to report that her husband John seemed to be missing, not answering his phone or texts, and she was worried. It’s now dinnertime, and over the course of this day Ariel had become more and more desperate, then she discovered evidence that something bad has happened to John, which in this scene she presents to the police, who remain dubious.

This passage is perfectly representative of the book. Here we see the disbelieved, frustrated, and increasingly panicked protagonist, begging to be believed. We see the compassionate but nevertheless skeptical authorities who can’t really help her. We see a piece of physical evidence that something has gone awry with John’s day, but it’s unclear what. We also see a bit of Lisbon atmosphere in the restaurant where this scene takes place, the tempo of a Portuguese day, typical cuisine, a glimpse of lifestyle, all of which are important to the way I try to transport readers.

Less overtly, we also see a hint of gender-dynamic conflict, which is one of the core themes of the book. But we also see a subversion of the expectation: one of these cops is a man who doesn’t believe this woman, but his disbelief isn’t because he’s misogynist, or ungenerous--he’s neither--but rather because Ariel’s predicament is simply not that sufficiently compelling.

This conversation also presents the full panoply of Ariel’s problems at this point in the story: not only is her husband is missing, and no one believes that he's in trouble, but maybe she doesn’t know John as well as she should. There’s an atmosphere of tension, and fear, and the sense that time is running out. As the narrative later unfolds, the reader will come to understand that Ariel is facing other serious problems as well, but on page 69, this scene reflects the whole world of her troubles, which turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Visit Chris Pavone's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Chris Pavone & Charlie Brown.

The Page 69 Test: The Expats.

The Page 69 Test: The Accident.

The Page 69 Test: The Travelers.

The Page 69 Test: The Paris Diversion.

--Marshal Zeringue