Monday, June 11, 2007

K.J. Erickson's "Alone at Night"

K.J. Erickson is the author of four Mars Bahr mysteries.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to her most recent novel, Alone at Night, and reported the following:
Interesting idea.

I've always been struck writing a police procedural how similiar the structure is to opera, where arias provide moments of emotion, realization, character development -- and recitatives advance the plot. Page 99 in Alone at Night is definitely recitative: My protagonist, Marshall Bahr, is considering how to handle tips received from a reality television show featuring the case Mars is working on.

In opera, recitative must be well-constructed and intrinsically interesting to create an effective foil for the melodic richness of the aria that follows. The same is true during the recitative sections of a police procedural. There's a substantial amount of detail and action that must follow from point A to point B, none of which has much melody. On Page 99 in Alone at Night, I'm relying on the reader's curiosity re: how information would be handled on a TV show such as "America's Most Wanted" and on the implied tension of how important this information will be to resolving the case.

Page 99 doesn't tell you anything about Mars as a character, nor does it include other characters who are integral to the series, but it is very representative of the mechanical, plot-forwarding aspects of a police procedural.
Visit K.J. Erickson's website and read an excerpt from Alone at Night.

--Marshal Zeringue