Sunday, July 06, 2008

Pg. 69: Vincent H. O’Neil's "Exile Trust"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Vincent H. O’Neil's Exile Trust.

About the book, from the publisher:
Things are about to heat up in the sleepy town of Exile, Florida. When fact-checker Frank Cole is asked to help the Exile Bank update its safe-deposit records, it sounds like a nice, simple job. With the aid of retiree Gray Toliver, Frank starts tracking down bank customers who left the area without emptying their safe-deposit boxes.

That’s when the temperature starts to rise. Frank learns that an impostor tricked his way into the safe-deposit room a few days earlier, and that he may have emptied one of the boxes. No one can get in touch with the box owner, Dorothea Freehoffer, so Frank decides to go knock on a few doors. The mercury climbs a few more notches when Frank finds out that Dorothea died of an accidental fall shortly before the impostor visited the bank.

Frank begins to dig into the accident, only to find more questions than answers. A shady lawyer is making inquiries in Dorothea’s neighborhood. A sultry district attorney starts dogging Frank’s footsteps. A sealed envelope that Dorothea had hidden with a friend appears, but all it contains is a map of a real estate development that never happened.

Throw in a crooked geologist who disappeared in the area twenty years ago, a pair of smooth-talking land speculators, and a visitor from Frank’s past who is in no hurry to leave, and Exile is well on its way to the boiling point.

The third installment of Vincent H. O'Neil's mystery series continues the story of amateur sleuth Frank Cole as he tries to identify a phantom, track down some missing bank customers, solve a murder, and earn a little Exile Trust.
Among the early praise for the novel:
"Another very good mystery that somehow manages to mix effectively elements of both the village cozy and the hard-boiled thriller."

"Invited to trace the owners of some dead-end safe-deposit boxes, Frank Cole soon finds himself hunting much bigger game. Preparing for a visit from the bank examiners, manager Ollie Morton is concerned because the leases on some of his safe-deposit boxes are so old that he can't identify the customers anymore. Tracking them down sounds like a perfect job for Frank, who's been lying low as a fact-checker in Exile, Florida, while waiting for the vultures who picked his computer firm clean to let him walk away without paying them anything else. But Frank sniffs bigger trouble when safe-deposit manager Susan Wilmington tells how a strange man identifying himself as Dorothea Freehoffer's husband cleaned out her box. Her fears are justified by the fact that Dorothea has just died in a convenient accident-and that her husband's funeral was two years ago. The search for answers leads Frank to a real-estate scam, a 20-year-old murder, a state attorney who wants Frank to go back to hiding under his rock and, most surprisingly of all, the offer of a real job making real money. As usual, however, O'Neil (Reduced Circumstances, 2007, etc.), keeps the proceedings so low-key that if you blink you'll miss the jaws of justice closing on the one miscreant who doesn't get off scot-free. No sexy dames, death threats, fisticuffs or car chases-just an ordinary guy asking questions till he hits the jackpot."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Frank Cole is a captivating narrator, the kind readers will follow anywhere."
--Publishers Weekly on Reduced Circumstances
Read an excerpt from Exile Trust, and learn more about the book and author at Vincent O'Neil's website.

Vincent H. O’Neil's first novel, Murder in Exile, won the St. Martin’s Minotaur/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition.

The Page 69 Test: Exile Trust.

--Marshal Zeringue