Wednesday, September 10, 2008

JT Ellison's "14"

JT Ellison is Murderati's Friday columnist, a short story writer, and a novelist.

Last year she applied the Page 69 Test to her debut novel, All the Pretty Girls. Now she has applied the “Page 99 Test” to the sequel, 14, and reported the following:
I believe page 99 of my new novel, 14, is indicative of the whole of the book. Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson and FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin are having a quiet dinner at home, talking about their day. Two major points are made that drive the story – first, Taylor tells Baldwin she’s missing a piece of vital evidence from a twenty year old murder case, and second – Baldwin reveals that a woman named Charlotte Douglas is coming to town. I love that the page ends with the revelation – seemingly innocuous – that a woman named Charlotte Douglas is coming to Nashville to participate in the Snow White Killer case. Taylor has never heard the woman’s name, but is about to meet a formidable opponent, both in the Snow White case and from Baldwin’s past. I hope the reader is driven to the next page, and the next, to find out why it’s important that Charlotte is getting involved in the Snow White case.

Without giving it all away, the missing evidence that Taylor mentions ties directly to the solution of the case, and to understanding Charlotte Douglas. Here’s an excerpt from page 99 of 14.

“Do I need a special occasion to bring flowers to my almost wife?”

“No, of course not.” She dropped the holster on the counter and buried her nose in the flowers. “Mmmm, they smell great. I better get them in some water. Where’d you find the Gerberas this time of year?”

“A man must protect his secrets.”

She rolled her eyes at him, eliciting a laugh. It was all so comfortable, it didn’t feel right. She got the flowers into water, set them thoughtfully on the kitchen table. Baldwin watched her; she felt his eyes on the back of her neck. Jesus, what was wrong with her?

“How was your day?”

“Other than the fact that we’re missing a piece of evidence from the Snow White case? The old cases, I should say.”

“What kind of evidence?” He opened the refrigerator. “Oh good, you got dinner.”

“Like I’d let you starve.”

They bustled around the kitchen, getting their salads on plates, buttering bread, pouring wine, and Taylor told Baldwin about her afternoon. He listened with sympathy until she asked about his day. They sat on the floor in the living room, their plates on the coffee table, their backs propped with pillows, and talked while they ate.

When they were settled and Taylor was a few bites into her salad, Baldwin answered her question.

“Well, it was interesting, I’ll say that. Tomorrow might be a little crazy.”

She just raised an eyebrow. As if anything could be crazier in this case, in their lives.

“Charlotte Douglas is coming to town.”

Read an excerpt from 14, and learn more about the book and author at J.T. Ellison's website and MySpace page.

Watch the video trailer for 14.

The Page 69 Test: All the Pretty Girls.

--Marshal Zeringue