Saturday, February 11, 2023

"A Killing of Innocents"

Deborah Crombie is a New York Times bestselling author and a native Texan who has lived in both England and Scotland. She now lives in McKinney, Texas, sharing a house that is more than one hundred years old with her husband, two cats, and two German shepherds.

Crombie applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, A Killing of Innocents, and reported the following:
This is page 69 in its entirety.
Gemma stared at Louise in disbelief. “A nanny? That’s absurd, Louise. We can’t afford a nanny. And besides, we’re not—” She’d been about to say “posh” when Louise’s expression stopped her.

“Don’t tell me it offends your class sensibilities, Gemma. It doesn’t mean you’re shirking your responsibilities. This is not like the well-to-do shuffling their kids off to boarding school before they’re out of nappies. Charlotte had a nanny before she came to you.”

“But that was only after her mother went missing, and Naz couldn’t—”

“Manage on his own. He needed help. You need help.”

“Even if you’re right,” Gemma said after an uncomfortable moment, “it’s just not feasible. We don’t have room for a live-in. The boys are squashed together as it is. And someone even part-time would cost the earth.”

“You’ve paid Wesley.”

“Yes, but Wesley’s a friend. And it’s only been here and there, when it was convenient for him.” Wesley’s help had made a huge difference, she had to admit, but he was very busy these days with his own commitments. “It was nice to have him, though,” she added with a sigh. “The children love him. And he cooks.”

“I’m sure you could find someone who could help out with meals.”

“Kit would be offended,” Gemma said. “Wes cooking, he doesn’t mind, but otherwise he considers the kitchen his domain. He only tolerates Duncan and me.”

“Still cooking up a storm, is he?”

“Yes, and working in the cafĂ© with Wes on Saturdays, too.”

“It’s good experience. He’s growing up, Gemma. He needs time for himself as well as the family.”

“Yes, but—”
The page doesn’t have any bearing on the specific mystery plot so perhaps isn’t the best indicator of the novel as a whole.

It is, however, the perfect excerpt to showcase one of the ongoing series storylines, Gemma and Duncan’s blended family and the difficulties they face trying to juggle two very demanding jobs with caring for their three children. Louise Phillips is the legal guardian of their youngest, Charlotte, their foster daughter, and this gives us a little reminder of Charlotte’s backstory. We also see that Gemma has taken a desk job in order to be more available for the kids, and the questions raised in her conversation with Louise play an important part in the book’s conclusion, and will lead to important developments in future books in the series.
Visit Deborah Crombie's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Bitter Feast.

The Page 69 Test: A Bitter Feast.

--Marshal Zeringue