Friday, August 14, 2009

Kathryn Casey's "Blood Lines"

Kathryn Casey is a former magazine reporter and the author of five true crime books.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new novel, Blood Lines, and reported the following:
Blood Lines is the second in the Sarah Armstrong mystery series. In the first book, Singularity, Texas Ranger/profiler Sarah tracks a delusional serial killer. In Blood Lines, she investigates two cases: a questionable suicide and the stalking of a teen pop star. Sarah’s personal life runs through the book as well, including her relationship with her daughter, Maggie, the precarious health of a fragile colt born on the ranch and Sarah’s uncertainty about the state of her once promising relationship with FBI profiler David Garrity. On page 99, we’re traveling in a car with Sarah and David, who are on their way to interview a victim’s family:

“You know, when you stopped calling, I was surprised,” I said. “I’d thought that maybe we’d….”

“I did, too, Sarah. I really did,” he interrupted. I glanced over, and David stared at me. He looked sad, distant, yet I had the sense that he wanted to reach out, to touch me. And there was something, something on the tip of his tongue, waiting to be said. But what? I considered pulling the car over, but we were right around the corner from Faith and Grant Roberts’s house, and they were waiting.

“If there’s something you need to tell me, you should just say it, David,” I said.

“There’s nothing I can tell you, Sarah. I wish there were,” he said. “Sometimes, what we want isn’t as easy as it should be. Sometimes there are other people involved.”

“What does that mean?” I asked, but he said nothing, only shook his head. “David, I’m a grown woman. There’s no need to mince words. If you found someone else or changed your mind about how you feel about me, I understand. I know I wasn’t particularity available.”

“It’s not as clear cut as that,” he said, as I pulled into the driveway of a square, box of a house, two stories and redbrick, in a quiet middle-class neighborhood, the kind with tree-lined streets and sidewalks, where neighbors pick up each other’s newspapers and mail when they go on vacations.

I turned off the engine, but didn’t get out of the car. I wanted an answer. When he went to open the door, I flipped the locks.

He looked startled at first, but then smiled. “What is this? Am I being kidnapped? You know, that’s a federal crime.”

“Time to fess up,” I said. “I need to understand where we are, what changed.”

What I enjoy about this particular exchange is that it gives insight into my protagonist. As a profiler, Sarah assesses crime scenes, reviews photographs and evidence, to gain insight and focus investigations. Her assessments help find the bad guys, get the psychos off the streets.

In her work, Sarah cuts through the distractions, attempting to interpret what is real, to draw an accurate picture of some pretty frightening scumbags. Still it’s not always easy to decipher what’s truly transpiring, and Sara misinterprets and stumbles. As she works her way through a shadowy maze of clues, she can be surprised.

The same holds true for her personal life. Here Sarah tries to pin David down, to get at the truth, but he isn’t cooperating. She finds this not only infuriating but also confusing. As with the cases she investigates, Sarah finds life multi-layered and often more complicated than she’d like.
Read an excerpt from Blood Lines, and learn more about the book and author at Kathryn Casey's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Singularity.

--Marshal Zeringue