Saturday, December 24, 2022

"Little Red House"

Liv Andersson is an author, lawyer, and former therapist whose background has inspired her thrillers and mysteries. She and her husband live in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont with their sons and three dogs.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Little Red House, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Jet regarded me as he made his way to the kitchen area. He opened the freezer and pulled out an icepack, which he tossed my way. “Put that on your head.”

I placed the pack against my skull. “Damn.” It hurt, and the ice only made it worse.

“What were you doing in the shed, anyway? Oliver said you were nosing around on the floor.”

“I was looking for cleaning supplies.”

“On the floor?” He stared at me, his expression unreadable.

Jet had the kind of masculinity I normally loathed in men. Strong, quiet—above the need to explain himself. Impatient with feelings and convinced that only his brand of logic mattered. Used to getting his way with most women because of a handsome face. Only I wasn’t most women. As much as I hated Eve, I’d learned a few things from her, and I viewed men—nearly all men—with the same wary pragmatism I reserved for large dogs and black bears. Unless they served a purpose, I admired them from a distance.

I wanted Jet gone from the property. He was a complicating factor I had neither bargained for nor agreed to. I said as much.

“Call your lawyer, then. Ask him. I’m afraid you’re stuck with me. For now, at least.” He took the ice pack from my hand and repositioned it against my head. “I’ll ask again, Constance. What were you looking for in my workshop?”


“Oliver said you were nosing around.”

“I saw a trapdoor on the floor. I was curious about it.”

“It’s just a cabinet. I use it to store chemicals.”

My foggy mind flashed back to the lacy stains. “The wood flooring—is it old?”

“Old as the house, I guess.”

Another wave of nausea hit, and I put my head between my legs, riding it out. With my eyes closed, I pictured the shed floor, the reddish-brown stains interspersed across the wooden planks. Like fans. Like pinwheels.

“Constance, are you okay? You probably have a concussion. Constance?”

Not fans. Not pinwheels. Small red...
Page 69 of Little Red House offers a glimpse into a central conflict unfolding in one of the novel’s dual timelines, provides insight into Connie’s angst about the little red house and what it represents, and foreshadows events to come (without spoilers). In short, the Page 69 Test works for Little Red House.

In Little Red House, Connie inherited the rundown little red house in the New Mexico desert from her mother, Eve Foster. Eve was a cruel woman who played mind games throughout Connie’s childhood, and Connie never knew the house existed until she heard the terms of the will. Connie arrived in New Mexico to discover Jet Montgomery, the property’s surly caretaker, living in an outbuilding on the property. She’s unable to fire Jet based on the terms of Eve’s trust. Suspicious of Jet, and worried about Eve’s motivations for hiring him—is this just another of Eve’s sadistic games? —Connie snoops around Jet’s workshop while he’s away and is rewarded with a clock to the head by their neighbor, Oliver. Connie comes to in Jet’s shack.

In this scene, we experience the tension between Connie and Jet. We also come to understand a little about Connie’s personality and the paranoia she’s inherited from Eve. This paranoia about Jet and the reasons she was bequeathed the house permeates the book. It’s on page 69 that Connie first realizes that what she saw in the workshop may have a more ominous meaning, setting off her quest for answers.
Visit Liv Andersson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue