Sunday, February 17, 2008

Katie Estill's "Dahlia's Gone"

Katie Estill is a graduate of Kenyon College and has an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her first novel, Evening Would Find Me, was published by Joyce Carol Oates's Ontario Review Press.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to her latest novel, Dahlia's Gone, and reported the following:
From page 99, Dahlia's Gone:

In a dream Patti Callahan climbs the stairs of her big new house. Her hand glides along the polished banister up to the third floor, the floor with a ballroom for dancing. Tonight the floor is a black, boundless space paved like the Milky Way, and Patti feels inspired to dance. Deputy Callahan is dancing to a waltz, steps she vaguely remembers from Miss Arnett’s dancing school. Her problem even then had been her inability to follow a boy’s lead. The whole notion of trying to follow someone else’s steps was perplexing to her and made her self-conscious. She had been clumsy and stepped on toes. But on the top floor of the house in her dreams, her three steps sway with a liquid grace as her toes flit among the stars.

"Is the quality of the whole revealed on page 99?"

Page 99 is an interior moment in Dahlia's Gone, but yes, something essential about the novel is revealed. Dahlia's Gone is the story of three women whose lives are profoundly changed by a murder. In the end, it is this thread of their lives, their souls, as much as anything else, that moves the characters toward a resolution. There is an element of mystery here in the deepest sense, and one critic suggested there are moments in novel that move the book "into the realm of mysticism."

Read an excerpt from Dahlia's Gone, and learn more about the author and her work at Katie Estill's website.

Dahlia's Gone has been nominated for the Hammett Prize by the North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers.

--Marshal Zeringue