Saturday, January 10, 2009

J.T. Ellison's "Judas Kiss"

J.T. Ellison is Murderati's Friday columnist, a short story writer, and a novelist.

She has applied the Page 69 Test to her debut novel, All the Pretty Girls and both the “Page 99 Test” and the “Page 69 Test” to the sequel, 14.

For Judas Kiss, the third installment in her critically acclaimed Taylor Jackson series, Ellison used the “Page 99 Test”:
Page 99 of Judas Kiss is an internal monologue from homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson as she drives to Forensic Medical for the autopsy of pregnant mother Corinne Wolff. It covers a lot of ground – her father who’s in jail, problems with her city, but most importantly, it shows a crack in Taylor’s code. This is the first time in the series that Taylor thinks about doing something that breaks the rules. Granted, it would be to save one of her team, Lincoln Ross, but it’s a seminal moment in the development of her character. This is a woman who arrested her own father, and she’s wondering what she can do to cover up Lincoln’s transgression. It’s subtle, just a fleeting thought, really, but isn’t that how the slippery slope begins for us all? I hope readers will see that this marks a shift in her core, and wonder what is going to happen. Judas Kiss is all about Taylor being pushed into gray areas, and this particular page sets that up nicely.

She’d been inside Riverbend’s death row cells, with their blue doors and creamy concrete walls. She never wanted to return. The overwhelming sense of malevolence coupled with dread was too much to take. She’d sent more than one of the men housed in that unit to death row and hadn’t lost a moment’s sleep over them, but she didn’t want to experience their last moments firsthand.

Her dad, well, his prison environs were a damn sight cushier than a state penitentiary. The feds were kind to their white collar criminals.

The Interstate 24 split came, and she passed the exit, driving a few more miles to the Dickerson Road access ramp. Off the highway now, into the run down streets. This was a sad part of town. A crack whore strolled by, arms swinging wildly as she walked, a timid black man in his forties following some fifty feet behind. Had they made the deal already? They must have, the hooker had the bright, insistent glow in her eyes of a junkie who knows she’s about to get a fix.

Taylor shook her head. There seemed to be no legal measures that could stop the pervasive sex trades on the back streets of Nashville. For the pros, a night in jail meant either safety or withdrawal, neither an inducement to break free from the life. For the johns, it was just an embarrassment.

She turned on Gass and passed the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations offices on the right. The TBI taskforce would be furious if they knew Lincoln had broken the rules. Even though he had done something that was life preserving, they would still punish him. He’d be kicked off the taskforce at the very least. She wondered if she could keep the situation quiet, then forced the thought from her mind. She was a master at keeping each aspect separate, tackling one thorny issue at a time. It was the only way she could get through the day.
Read an excerpt from Judas Kiss, and learn more about the book and author at J.T. Ellison's website and MySpace page.

--Marshal Zeringue