Tuesday, October 25, 2016

"Livia Lone"

Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA's Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. Eisler's bestselling thrillers have won the Barry Award and the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year, have been included in numerous "Best Of" lists, and have been translated into nearly twenty languages.

Eisler applied the Page 69 Test to his new thriller, Livia Lone, and reported the following:
From page 69:
During the days, she never left her side. And when the men came with food and water, Livia made sure to stay as far to the back of the box as possible. When she heard the bolts scraping open, she would stand Nason up and gently ease her against the wall, then position herself in front of her. That way, if the men tried to grab Nason, Livia could see it coming and fight them. She didn’t have the can top anymore, and the men had been opening the cans themselves and keeping the tops since Livia had cut them. But she still had her teeth. She could leap at them, and bite their noses and ears and lips.

But the men must have known what she was thinking. One morning, they came in and began handing out food from the back of the box, rather than from the front where they usually positioned themselves. Dirty Beard stood to Livia’s left and Square Head to her right while Skull Face stayed in front of the door. She felt something was wrong, that they were trying to trick her, and as she swept her head from one side to the other, trying to watch both men at once, Dirty Beard stepped in and grabbed her hair. She screamed and twisted toward him, terrified they were going to take Nason again. Square Head gripped her shoulders from behind and pulled her to the floor. Panic surged through her and she squirmed to her stomach and tried to bring her knees forward. But one of the men knelt on her back, pinning her to the ground. She grabbed for Nason’s ankle, as though she could fuse them together and stop the men from pulling them apart. There was a sting in her neck, and all at once her limbs felt heavy, too heavy to move. The weight on her back seemed to spread all over her body, as though she was under the box instead of inside it.

“Little bird,” she whispered, and then she was gone.
I think I got lucky here—page 69 provides a solid microcosm of who Livia is and what drives her behavior throughout the book.

On a superficial level, Livia Lone is a story about revenge. But on a deeper, and more important level, the story is about love. You can see that love on page 69, where Livia, only 13 years old, is almost oblivious to danger to herself, and intent only on protecting her traumatized little sister from another assault by the men who have trafficked them from Thailand.

The world, a mentor explains to Livia later in the story, after she has been rescued and is intent on finding her missing sister, is made of three kinds of people—sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. Sheep are ordinary people, obviously, while wolves are predators. Sheepdogs, though—soldiers, police, firefighters—while fanged like wolves, possess an instinct not for predation, but rather for protection.

Livia is a born sheepdog. Someone with a deep-seated, hard-wired need to protect—albeit a need tuned by trauma to the level of obsession.

Because what happens to a person who is so wired for protection—not just in general, but in particular for the little sister she adores—when as a child her ability to protect is so horrifically ripped away from her?

That sheepdog might start protecting the flock not just by warding off the wolves. But by hunting down the wolves. And killing them.

Which is why the page 69 test works so well for this book. It shows us Livia’s most fundamental character trait: that need to protect. It shows some of what twisted that trait into a need to not just to investigate sex crimes, but to avenge them. It sets up her transition from child child victim to accomplished cop. And it hints at what becomes her defining obsession: finding the little sister she tried so desperately to protect, but couldn’t.
Visit Barry Eisler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Dying For Strawberries"

Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award winning author Sharon Pisacreta. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Farrow has been a freelance writer since her twenties. Her first novel was released in 1998. Published in mystery, fantasy, and romance, Farrow currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.

Farrow applied the Page 69 Test to Dying For Strawberries, her debut book in The Berry Basket series, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Yes I can.” The expression on her baby face grew hard. “It was they who informed Evangeline Chaplin that John and I were together. If not for executive producer Elliot Flynn and producer Marlee Jacob, John might still be alive today.”

“Am I really hearing this?” I was so stunned, I wasn’t even certain I asked this aloud.

“That’s a serious allegation,” the female co-host replied. It was clear that at least she wasn’t buying April’s performance.

“Murder is a serious act,” April continued. “If we had been left to tell Evangeline in our own way and in our own time, I don’t believe John would have been killed. But the producers interfered. As far as I’m concerned, they have John Chaplin’s blood on their hands.”

“I think I’m going to be sick.”

Ryan grabbed my hand. “She’s only out to make a quick buck and get some more publicity. This will all soon blow over.”

I suddenly remembered Tess was still on speaker-phone. “You see, Tess. This is why I hate the thirteenth of June. Nothing good will happen on this day again. Ever!”

“But today is the Strawberry Moon Bash. You know you’re looking forward to that.”


“Just kidding,” she said quickly. “Look, no one is going to buy her stupid book. And no one will remember the one time she mentioned your name this morning.”

“She’s right,” Ryan replied. “Forget about April and the Chaplins. And get going, before you’re late for beach yoga.”
In this brief except, Marlee Jacob is alarmed to discover that her turbulent past has come back to haunt her. Several years earlier, Marlee enjoyed a thriving career as a TV producer in New York City, and was responsible for the success of a cooking show starring John and Evangeline Chaplin, the husband and wife team known as Sugar and Spice. But John’s affair with the show’s intern April Byrne leads Evangeline to poison him. The resulting notoriety and lengthy, publicized murder trial ended Marlee’s career in television. Weary of scandal, Marlee returns to Oriole Point, her scenic hometown along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Following her return to Michigan, she finds professional success as the owner of The Berry Basket and personal happiness with her fiancĂ© Ryan. But Marlee wakes one morning to the sight of an old enemy being interviewed on national TV. April Byrne has written a self-serving memoir about the Chaplin murder, which points an accusing finger at Marlee. This unpleasant news comes just hours after an unsavory resident of Oriole Point threatens to shut down Marlee’s business. Somehow she has to work up the enthusiasm to participate in the big Strawberry Moon Bash that evening. However it is June 13th, the anniversary of the Chaplin murder. It is also Friday the 13th. And Marlee rightly suspects things might turn unlucky at the Bash.
Visit Sharon Farrow's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 21, 2016

"Eden’s Escape"

M. Tara Crowl grew up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She studied Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, then received an MA in Creative Writing at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.

Crowl applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Eden’s Escape, and reported the following:
Eden’s Escape was released by Disney-Hyperion in September. It’s the sequel to my first middle-grade novel, Eden’s Wish, in which our protagonist, a 12-year-old genie named Eden, escapes her lamp and tries to pose as a regular girl on Earth. Naturally, she doesn’t get away with it. But to her surprise, when she returns to the lamp, its ancient rules change so that she can become the first genie in history to live on Earth while continuing her career as a genie.

At the beginning of Eden’s Escape, Eden finds herself in New York City with a genie alum named Pepper who will be her guardian. Eden loves the city and her new life there. But just as she’s getting comfortable, she’s whisked away for a granting.

The wisher is a tech mogul named David Brightly, who, Eden quickly learns, did not find the lamp by accident. She also realizes that Brightly won’t be satisfied with three wishes; he wants the lamp’s full power for himself. He straps Eden into a chair, takes the lamp out of her sight, and starts performing tests on her. Eden knows she can get out of this if she can make a request for reentry, a special allowance for grantings that have gone wrong—but in order to do it, she has to see the lamp. She refuses to answer Brightly’s questions until he shows her the lamp, so he relents and takes her to his lab.

But there’s something very wrong. The lamp is inside a cage made of black metal bars, encased by a purple glow. Brightly tells her that the purple glow is an ionic plasma shield. This is where we begin page 69.
“Like a force field?” Eden asked incredulously.

“Essentially, yes.”

“But I thought those were only in stories!”

“Strange, I used to think the same thing about genies,” Brightly said. His lips curled into a smirk. “When you’re on the cuttin’ edge of technology research, lots of things exist that the rest of the world would still call make-believe.”

Eden had learned about plasma and its properties in Xavier’s physics lessons. It was one of the four forms of matter, along with solids, liquids, and gases. Of the four, it was the most abundant form in the universe; but on Earth, it generally existed only in labs.

“But why?” Eden demanded.

Brightly was gazing absorbedly at the plasma-encased lamp. “It’s a little precaution we took. We don’t want any external interference while we’re investigatin’.”

Eden’s breath grew shallow. Would her request for reentry work with plasma blocking the spout? Xavier and Goldie might not be able to see or hear through the telescope.

Still, she had to try.

“Request for reentry!” she cried desperately. “I need to go back!”

She squeezed her eyes closed, willing it to work. She longed to be back in New York, right by Pepper’s side.

But when she opened her eyes, nothing had changed.
This is the point where the book’s action really kicks off. Eden’s plan to get away from Brightly has failed, so she has to find a different way to escape. You’ll have to read to find out what she does—but I will tell you that it involves a laser, an explosion, a disguise, and the city of Paris.

Au revoir!
Visit M. Tara Crowl's website.

The Page 69 Test: Eden's Wish.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Upon her retirement in 2012 Jan Fedarcyk was the only woman to lead the FBI’s prestigious New York Office as Assistant Director in Charge. Fidelity, her first novel, draws upon her twenty-five years of experience as an FBI Special Agent.

Fedarcyk applied the Page 69 Test to Fidelity and reported the following:
On page 69 we see Kay Malloy having brunch with her beloved Auntie, Justyna Dabrowska Alvaro-Nunez. We see Kay’s curiosity in her parents’ past and Justyna searching her memory for old and faded recollections. Kay is synthesizing what she is hearing with what she knows from her Bureau experience, but she is trying to put the pieces of a puzzle together without the cover of the box. Why is she questioning something that happened 30 years ago? The reader gets a sense that completing the puzzle is important to Kay to understand her past and at this point the curious reader will want to know what that information will reveal. So, read on!
Visit Jan Fedarcyk's website.

My Book, The Movie: Fidelity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 17, 2016

"The Murder of a Queen Bee"

Meera Lester is the author of nearly two dozen nonfiction books and the proprietress of the real Henny Penny Farmette, located in the San Francisco Bay area. Raising chickens and honeybees, she draws on her life at her farmette as the basis of her Henny Penny Farmette mysteries.

Lester applied the Page 69 Test to her second Henny Penny Farmette mystery, The Murder of a Queen Bee, and reported the following:
On page 69 in The Murder of a Queen Bee, a recipe is featured (each chapter opens with a quote and ends with a farming tip, recipe, or craft). So, if readers are interested in recipes, they might read on, but I think it’s fair to go back one page in The Murder of a Queen Bee, where the text of the mystery continues. My heroine-sleuth Abigail Mackenzie, once besotted by old boyfriend Clay Calhoun who abruptly left her on Valentine’s Day to run her farm alone, now questions why he’s returned, if she can ever trust him again, and why she would want to.

During his absence, she’s increasingly come to trust one voice—her own. And now that she’s deep into solving the murder of her herbalist friend Fiona Mary Ryan—with the help of the deceased’s brother—Abby doesn’t need Clay making demands on her time, confusing her emotionally, or complicating her life. For his part, Clay professes he wants to rekindle the connection and tries to smooth-talk his way back into Abby’s life.

She wants to believe him but knows that it means creating a new paradigm. The culmination of these moments begins to spin the story off in a new direction for both the B plot line (the romance) and the A plot (the murder mystery). I believe the pull exerted by these two lines on page 68 will keep the reader glued to the book until the payoff at the end.
Visit Meera Lester's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Murder of a Queen Bee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 15, 2016

"The Row"

J.R. Johansson's books include Insomnia, Paranoia, Mania, and Cut Me Free.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, The Row, and reported the following:
I've never actually done this test before, but I'd say that this page is pretty representative of the raw emotion of the rest of the book even if it doesn't fully capture the mystery or suspense elements. In this scene, my main character, Riley, is reeling from some of the questions she has about the possible guilt or innocence of her own father.

Here are a couple of quotes from that page that perfectly capture what I'm referring to:

"The only way I can keep any friends is by lying to them, and I know from experience, the truth always comes out in the end. People keep you at a distance if they think killing runs in your blood."

"How many times has Daddy declared his innocence over the years? One hundred? One thousand? Were those the lies?...How many times can you lie to someone you love before everything you share becomes the lie?"

These are the underlying issues and questions she faces throughout the story, so I'd say this page is definitely a good representation of at least the big thematic elements of the book.
Visit J.R. Johansson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 13, 2016

"Vivian in Red"

Kristina Riggle lives and writes in West Michigan. Her debut novel, Real Life & Liars, was a Target “Breakout” pick and a “Great Lakes, Great Reads” selection by the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. Her other novels have been honored by independent booksellers, including an IndieNext Notable designation for The Life You’ve Imagined.

Riggle applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Vivian In Red, and reported the following:
Set-up for scene: Milo Short, elderly Broadway producer, has had a stroke. His son and wife are at his bedside, and they think he’s asleep. His son, who is heading up the family business now, speaks first.
“We haven’t had a hit in too long, and this…” A pause. He’s probably waving his hand over me, this problem here, “ … is taking a bite out of the one solution I had in mind.”

The High Hat.”

“Yes, The High Hat. Book and show, and what the hell? Maybe even movie. Can you see it? I wonder if Leonardo DiCaprio can dance.”

“All our problems solved by a dancing DiCaprio? How convenient.”

“You joke, but it would probably do the trick.”

“You never talk like this in front of him.”

“He won’t listen anyway, is why. Anyway, I’m not talking in front of him. He’s out like a light here, and no wonder after his little adventure. Did you threaten him with a nursing home?”

“I mentioned it, yes, though I got no pleasure out of it. I’m not ready to parent your father. I do that enough with my parents.”

“Oh come on, you love being in charge of everything.”

“That’s not fair, and no, I don’t. Hardly. But it’s not like I have much choice.”

Their conversation devolves into bickering, and I’ve gone from a harmless, sleeping elderly stroke victim to something even more insubstantial. They don’t even concern themselves now with waking me.

Their argument breaks off quick, like a tape reel that’s snapped. I hear the quick clicking of a woman fleeing in pointy heels. I wait to hear Paul’s footsteps follow, but instead I hear him flop into one of those chairs by the fireplace, and he doesn’t move.

Go after her, I’d like to say. Make up, apologize even if you’re right, because so what? This little argument is worth so much to you? I’d say the same to her. Who cares who started it?

I care.

You again. Go away. Are you a dybbuk now? I’ve heard the stories.

Ha, a shiksa like me? I hardly think that’s allowed.

You’re nothing. You’re stroke damage in my brain.
Page 69 of Vivian in Red represents the novel well. We have elderly Milo, who has so much to say, but has been struck mysteriously mute, unable to recover his language even with therapy. We have the next generation, oblivious to the needs of their elders, and last, we have the enigmatic vision of Vivian, a woman from Milo’s past who appears only to him. To Milo, Vivian looks exactly like she did in 1934, though she should be 90 or dead.

This is where the tension arises in the novel: the intersection of Milo’s past with his present, complicated his inability to have a voice.

One important character who does not appear on this page is Eleanor, Milo’s granddaughter and the family misfit, who has reluctantly agreed to write a biography of her grandfather. Eleanor will begin to sense that there’s something about her grandfather’s past that’s connected to his inability to speak. This is not just because of the biography project, but also her innate introverted temperament. In a boisterous family of extroverts, Eleanor has learned the art of quiet observation. She’s able to read her grandfather, even without his voice, in a way that no one else can. This puts her in a unique position to uncover the secret behind Vivian, in red.
Learn more about the book and author at Kristina Riggle's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Kristina Riggle & Lucky.

The Page 69 Test: Real Life & Liars.

The Page 69 Test: The Life You've Imagined.

The Page 69 Test: The Whole Golden World.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

"Death of an Avid Reader"

Death of an Avid Reader is the sixth in Frances Brody’s 1920s series featuring Kate Shackleton, First World War widow turned sleuth.

Brody applied the Page 69 Test to the new novel and reported the following:
This is the oddest page 69 I have described. The incident fits into the plot but to say why would be a spoiler.

On a cold foggy day, Kate Shackleton has driven home from the haunted library, having given a lift to a loquacious neighbour. This neighbour clearly has something on her mind but doesn’t say what.

Kate has put her car in the garage. Later she must go back into town, having agreed to take part in a ceremony to lay the library’s ghost. She won’t drive, because of the fog, but will take the tramcar.

Thomas, a neighbour’s boy, knocks on Kate’s door to tell her that there is a noise from her garage. She suspects a childish prank, but investigates. Kate and Thomas find a scared but sociable stowaway hiding in the car: a monkey. Thomas wants to take the animal home but Kate knows that his mother wouldn’t approve.

As the monkey guzzles sweet tea from a saucer, Kate and her housekeeper, Mrs Sugden, discuss what to do. Mrs Sugden consults Mees’ Children’s Encyclopaedia in order to identify the creature.
‘It’s a Capuchin, said to be bright and intelligent. They like to swing through the woods and they’re not too fussy whether they eat nuts, berries or insects. They come from the Amazon.’

She glanced at the monkey. It was beside me, holding the hem of my skirt, its head tilted, listening to Mrs Sugden’s every word. She softened a little. ‘Poor little mite. He should have been left to swing through the trees. If he swings through our trees he’ll die of frostbite before you can say bananas.’
Ever conscious of life’s niceties, Mrs Sugden closes the curtains. She doesn’t want the neighbours to think that Kate Shackleton has started a menagerie.
Learn more about the book and author at Frances Brody's website.

Writers Read: Frances Brody.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 9, 2016


Kay Honeyman grew up in Fort Worth, Texas and attended Baylor University, graduating with a Bachelors and Masters in English Language and Literature. Her first novel, The Fire Horse Girl, came out in January 2013. She currently teaches middle school and lives in Dallas, Texas.

Honeyman applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Interference, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Dad looked up from the pages India had given him. “Kate is not available during the election.”

“Why not?” India asked.

“She’s focusing on her studies.” He looked at me. “Right, Kate?”

India tilted her head and lifted her chin. “Is that the real answer or the answer we’re giving?”

“You can consider it both,” Dad said.
I was skeptical that any one page could represent the entire book, but I was delighted when I turned to page 69 and saw so much of my story on that page – a daughter’s tense and sometimes distant relationship with her political father, the strain of an election, reality vs. perception, adjustment to West Texas life, and photography. This is one of Kate’s more vulnerable moments in the early chapters, so much of what she will struggle with surfaces.
I flinched at the dismissal before I could catch myself. India’s brow wrinkled for a second. “Good luck,” she said to me.

I rummaged around my room and found a small box and a piece of paper. When my hand brushed my camera sitting on my desk, I picked it up and slung it around my neck. The weight grounded me.
It’s a glimpse into the hurt, the shield she uses to mask it, and the photography that will eventually help her see things more clearly.
Visit Kay Honeyman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 7, 2016

"The Masked City"

Genevieve Cogman is a freelance author who has written for several role-playing game companies. She currently works for the NHS in England as a clinical classifications specialist. She is the author of the Invisible Library series, including The Burning Page, The Masked City, and The Invisible Library.

Cogman applied the Page 69 Test to The Masked City and reported the following:
This section is taken from page 69 of The Masked City. At this point in the novel, Irene’s apprentice Kai has been kidnapped, and she’s starting to appreciate just how dangerous the situation is.
“It is unlikely that his direct family would abduct him or leave a note to say he’d left. It would probably be beneath them. However, any royal family does have subordinates, junior relations, and in general people who would take on Will nobody rid me of this turbulent priest? suggestions with too much enthusiasm. One of them could have... And there are factions among the dragons. Not all of them support the royalty.”

Irene sighed. Yet another uncertainty. “So I can’t be sure of their involvement.”

“No,” Coppelia said. “You can’t. Or rather, we can’t. And no, we don’t have any secret back-channels that we can use to ask about it, on behalf of the Library, either.”

Irene tilted her head slightly. “On behalf of the Library, perhaps not, but how about from a private perspective? Isn’t there anyone out there who knows someone who knows someone, who could ask...” She let the phrase trail off hopefully.

Coppelia shook her head, a definite no, but she also looked wary. Clearly there was someone who knew someone who knew someone else out there, even if they couldn’t handle this particular issue.

“Of course there isn’t,” Irene agreed bitterly. She could see where this was going. “Even if someone did have access to the dragons, they’d be too high-ranking within the Library to act alone. And the Library can’t be drawn into this?”

Coppelia spread her hands. “Precisely. There’s only one person in this situation who can ask...”
Looking at that section, the reader can see Irene realising how deep the political waters are. She’d been assuming that it might be a straightforward kidnapping, either by Kai’s direct enemies, or his family’s enemies, or alternatively by his own family because they don’t want him hanging around in her company. But now she’s beginning to realise that she can’t trust anyone, and that Kai’s own family might be divided among themselves. Worst of all, the Library won’t necessarily be able to help her. She really is on her own.

And she’s the one who’s going to have to contact Kai’s family and try to find out what’s happened to their offspring, while bearing in mind that they may decide it’s all her fault and take reprisals.

Nobody ever said that a Librarian’s life was going to be easy...
Visit Genevieve Cogman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

"The Ferryman Institute"

Colin Gigl is a graduate of Trinity College with degrees in creative writing and computer science (no, he’s not quite sure how that happened, either). He currently works at a start-up in New York and lives with his wife in New Jersey.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Ferryman Institute, his debut novel, and reported the following:
What a great question. To be honest, it both is and it isn't representative of the book. On Page 69, Charlie is once again about to be thrown into an emergency assignment. It's one of the more serious, darker parts of the book, as there is nothing pleasant about this particular case. While the book generally has a bit more humor on display then is evident from that section, I won't say that it's entirely unrepresentative, either -- despite the humor, there's a serious core to this story. So a reader would certainly get that sense, but might not pick up on some of the lighter bits until later.
Visit Colin Gigl's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Ferryman Institute.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

"The Candidate"

Lis Wiehl, author of The Candidate: A Newsmaker Novel is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels. She is a Harvard Law School graduate and has served as a federal prosecutor in the state of Washington and as a tenured faculty member at The University Washington School of Law. She is currently a popular legal analyst and commentator for the Fox News Channel.

Wiehl applied the Page 69 Test to The Candidate and reported the following:
I’d have to say that page 69 of The Candidate is not the best representation of the book as a whole. That’s not to say it’s a jarring departure, but it’s a “softer” scene in which things are going relatively well for Erica. Usually things are much darker and suspenseful. On page 69 Erica is on a “play date” with her daughter Jenny, Jenny’s best friend, and the best friend’s father. Erica and the dad, Josh, have an immediate chemistry. Which is complicated for Erica because her fiancĂ© is in Australia helping a start-up news network, and while there he has probably strayed. So there are some complexities, but it’s not a heart-pounding action scene in which Erica fearlessly – and at great personal risk – pursues the truth and speaks truth to power.
Visit Lis Wiehl's website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: The Candidate.

--Marshal Zeringue