Thursday, February 29, 2024

"Where They Lie"

Claire Coughlan has worked as a journalist for many years, most recently for publications such as BookBrunch and the Sunday Independent. She was a recipient of the Words Ireland National Mentoring program, funded by Kildare Arts Service and the Arts Council. Coughlan has an MFA in creative writing from University College Dublin, and she lives in County Kildare with her husband and daughter.

Coughlan applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Where They Lie, and reported the following:
On page 69 Nicoletta attempts to interview Charles Creighton, a well-known local jewelry business owner at his residence at Seaview House in Dublin, where the bones of missing actress Julia Bridges have been found after twenty-five years. He tells Nicoletta: “I’m sure you understand, this is a private matter for all concerned.” Nicoletta and Barney, her colleague, take their leave of Creighton and make their way to the end of the garden, where they hope to knock on the door of the mews house and interview John Dawkins, the man who found the human remains, and his wife Delia, Charles Creighton’s daughter. According to Barney, Dawkins is “an artist of some sort. The neighbors have made dozens of complaints to the Guards about loud parties, and he’s said to be smuggling dope on the ferry.”

If a browser opened page 69 of Where They Lie, they would certainly find an accurate snapshot of the story; this page is absolutely pivotal to the novel’s progression. Although the seemingly unflappable Charles Creighton, who we are previously told has a “tight, practised smile,” tells Nicoletta that the story is a private matter and essentially none of her business, he can’t quite bring himself to show her the door. He is very taken with Nicoletta and keeps her talking longer than necessary. She is so overwhelmed by everything that has been happening, including the glamor of this old house, which is unlike anything she has ever experienced, she doesn’t question his motivation. However, Charles is actually quite an important character in the overall plot development, and he will have greater significance towards the end, without giving any spoilers. When Nicoletta and Barney make their way towards the mews at the end of the garden to ‘doorstep’ John and Delia Dawkins, they are unwittingly stepping further into the tangled maze of this story, beyond which there is no turning back.

All the action on page 69 takes place at Seaview House. This house is central to the story: a spooky, turreted Victorian seaside mansion in Dublin with brick “the colour of dried blood”, where human remains have been found, and whose inhabitants are all keeping deadly secrets.
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--Marshal Zeringue