Wednesday, September 14, 2022

"Where Secrets Live"

Susan Richards is the author of the Jessica Kallan mystery series and stand-alone novels of suspense. She strives in each story to create characters who are confronted by circumstances that push them to their limits, test their strength, and challenge their beliefs and integrity—people who would do almost anything to protect the people they love.

Richards’s new novel, Where Secrets Live, was a finalist in the Mystery/Suspense category of the 2018 Daphne du Maurier contest.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, she has lived throughout the Midwest and currently resides in Northern Minnesota. She also spent several years in the Pacific Northwest, moving back to Minnesota to be closer to her family. Every winter she wonders what the hell she was thinking.

Richards applied the Page 69 Test to Where Secrets Live and reported the following:
From page 69:
here yesterday. That young man, Tom, who used to go with Meredith, talked to all of us. He’s a cop now, you know.”

“I know.” “Anyway, I don’t think we were much help.”

“I went to see Lee Atwater this morning.”

She shook her head, and then the name must have registered. “That girl from college who hated Meredith for stealing her boyfriend?” She slapped the table as the memory took hold. “She was dating Tom when he left her for Meredith. What did you see her for?”

I guess we all remembered the story.

A rough hand squeezed my shoulder from behind, and I looked up to see John standing there. He poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down next to his wife.

“I went to Meredith’s office this morning,” I said. “Lee’s name was in her appointment book. She’s a very successful psychologist now. Meredith had been seeing her as a client for the past few months.”

“Why?” John asked.

“She was upset about something. She needed someone to talk to.”

“She could have talked to her family,” Ruth said from the doorway.

Her voice took me by surprise. Ruth rarely ventured into Martha’s domain. In my whole life, I could probably count the number of times I’d seen Ruth in the kitchen.

She took a seat at the end of the table. “Go on with your talk. What about your sister?”

“All I said was that she was seeing someone.”

Martha and John exchanged glances.

“And the someone she was seeing was Lee Atwater?” Ruth asked.


“How do you know this?”
In Where Secrets Live, page 69 shows the interaction between four of the main characters, with reference to two others. It’s after the murder of Elizabeth McCallister’s sister, Meredith.

This scene/page is important to the story, more for the interactions of the characters than the information it displays—although, there is definitely pertinent information on the page.

Readers would see the conversation between the protagonist, Liz, and John and Martha who worked for her family since before she was born, and who were more like parents to her when she was growing up than the revolving door of parental figures who moved through her life. John and Martha were always there—constant, solid, and stable.

If you just opened the book to this page, you wouldn’t have that background of information, but I think seeing how the players converse would give some indication as to their connections.

And I like that the mere presence of Liz’s stepmother, Ruth, stops everyone in their tracks.

Ruth is definitely a matriarchal personality and I think this comes through with the reactions of the others in this scene when she walks into the room.

The last line on the page, Ruth challenges Liz as to how she knows that her sister was seeing a therapist. I hope that would entice readers to want to keep going and find out how Liz defends herself.

* * *

I love the Page 69 Test. It was an interesting way to look at my book.

Page 69 gives a solid, albeit brief, look at the patterns of interactions between these main characters and a substantial nod to the premise of the book, which pictures a highly dysfunctional family, with Ruth at the helm.

If the test is to tempt readers to want to know more, and to read the book, I think I passed. We’ll see...
Visit S.C. Richards's website.

My Book, The Movie: Where Secrets Live.

--Marshal Zeringue