Monday, January 08, 2007

Pg. 69: "Dirty Sweet"

Dirty Sweet, John McFetridge's most recent novel, has garnered lots of praise from people who know great crime writing.

So I was delighted that John put Dirty Sweet to the "page 69 test" and reported back with the following:
Dirty Sweet is a book about opportunity. How some people see it everywhere and some people never see it.

It’s an ensemble story. On page one a woman, Roxanne Keyes, a commercial real estate agent who’s business is on the skids, witnesses a murder in broad daylight on a downtown Toronto street. She tells the cops everything – except that she recognizes the driver of the getaway car. She thinks maybe she can blackmail him. From there, everyone involved; Roxanne, the cops, the Russian mobster who drove the getaway car, the bikers who are moving into organized crime in Toronto, a shady internet porn producer Roxanne has rented offices to – everyone - is seeing something for themselves. By page 69 all the double-crosses are underway.

Page 69 is the end of a scene. Boris, the driver of the getaway car, is picking up his Uncle Khozha (the shooter he brought in) at a hotel to take him to the airport to get him on a plane back to New York. But Khozha has been spending time with the strippers from the club Boris owns and doesn’t want to go so fast. Now Khozha decides he’s going to have lunch with his old friend, Boris’s mother.

Page 69:

Amelie was pissed off too, looking like jealous girlfriend.

Boris couldn’t see a way out. He said, “We’ll go to the club, Henri will get you a car.”

Pulling out of the parking lot behind the hotel onto Dixon Road, a plane took off right over their heads. Boris watching it go, up into the clear blue sky, the sun shining on its metal belly, a beautiful sight, thinking, fuck, Khozha should be on that God damned plane.


Boris hit the brake hard. He’d just about hit a Jeep. A black Liberty with the four lights across the top, just like the one the woman was driving last night. A fat bald guy was driving this one and he gave Boris the finger as he pulled a U, heading back towards the hotel. Boris stared after him and saw a huge billboard with a man’s face on it and a slogan, something about meeting all your leasing needs.

And Boris knew where he’d seen the woman in the Jeep. Where he’d talked to her a couple of years ago. Two blocks from the fucking Starbucks where she was sitting on the patio watching Uncle Khozha shoot Anzor in the face yesterday afternoon.

The same woman who was in the parking lot of his club last night.

The real estate lady. He still had her card in his desk.
Many thanks to John for the input.

Among the praise for Dirty Sweet:
“This is a fine first novel. McFetridge ... has a gift for dialogue and setting … a great eye for detail, and Toronto has never looked seedier. McFetridge is an author to watch.”
— Margaret Cannon, Globe and Mail

“Toronto novelist John McFetridge has studied at the knee of Elmore Leonard and taken away lessons that I wish more Canadian novelists would. Dirty Sweet is an amusingly sordid tale that features amusingly sordid people … you can’t read it for long without a smile coming across your lips. If more people wrote the kind of clean-as-a-whistle, no-fat prose McFetridge does, this reviewer would finish a lot more of their books.”
— David Gilmour, National Post

"a tough and gritty story populated by engagingly seedy characters."
— Booklist

"The writing is lean, the story moves quickly and McFetridge is already one hell of a storyteller, and he’s a Canadian author to watch for."
— Spinetingler Magazine

"If you love sex, violence and a slice of mystery for good measure, DIRTY SWEET is the right book for you – an R-rated thriller. Enjoy this quick money scheming page turner of a story that will make you spin around as John McFetridge shows you the dark side of Toronto – and I don’t mean the Toronto Maple Leafs! ...
DIRTY SWEET is definitely hot, dirty and sweet."
— Paul Anik,
Visit McFetridge's official website and blog.

What's a male writer to do when he needs insights into a Brazilian wax? John persuaded his wife to get one and write about it.

He reviewed The Blonde for Spinetingler Magazine.

John is the author of screenplays and co-author of a previous novel, Below the Line.

Forthcoming this spring: the second release in the Dirty Sweet series, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.

Previous "page 69 tests:"
Michael Kazin, A Godly Hero
Bill Crider, Murder Among the OWLS
Zachary Shore, Breeding Bin Ladens
Rolf Potts, Vagabonding
Matt Haig, The Dead Fathers Club
Lawrence Light, Fear & Greed
Simon Read, In The Dark
Sandra Ruttan, Suspicious Circumstances
Henry Ansgar Kelly, Satan: A Biography
Alison Gaylin, You Kill Me
Gayle Lynds, The Last Spymaster
Jim Lehrer, The Phony Marine
Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.
Debra Ginsberg, Blind Submission
Sarah Katherine Lewis, Indecent
Peter Orner, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
William Easterly, The White Man's Burden
Danielle Trussoni, Falling Through the Earth
Andrew Blechman, Pigeons
Anne Perry, A Christmas Secret
Elaine Showalter, Faculty Towers
Kat Richardson, Greywalker
Michael Bess, Choices Under Fire
Masha Hamilton, The Camel Bookmobile
Alex Beam, Gracefully Insane
Nicholas Lemann, Redemption
Jason Sokol, There Goes My Everything
Wendy Steiner, Venus in Exile
Josh Chafetz, Democracy’s Privileged Few
Anne Frasier, Pale Immortal
Michael Lewis, The Blind Side
David A. Bell, The First Total War
Brett Ellen Block, The Lightning Rule
Rosanna Hertz, Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice
Jason Starr, Lights Out
Robert Vitalis, America's Kingdom
Stephen Elliott, My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up
Colin McGinn, The Power of Movies
Sean Chercover, Big City, Bad Blood
Sigrid Nunez, The Last of Her Kind
Stanley Fish, How Milton Works
James Longenbach, The Resistance to Poetry
Margaret Lowrie Robertson, Season of Betrayal
Sy Montgomery, The Good Good Pig
Allison Burnett, The House Beautiful
Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, A History
Ed Lynskey, The Dirt-Brown Derby
Cindy Dyson, And She Was
Simon Blackburn, Truth
Brian Freeman, Stripped
Alyson M. Cole, The Cult of True Victimhood
Jeff Biggers, In the Sierra Madre
Jeff Broadwater, George Mason, Forgotten Founder
Alicia Steimberg, Andrea Labinger (trans.), The Rainforest
Michael Grunwald, The Swamp
Darrin McMahon, Happiness: A History
Leo Braudy, From Chivalry to Terrorism
David Nasaw, Andrew Carnegie
Leah Hager Cohen, Train Go Sorry
Chris Grabenstein, Slay Ride
David Helvarg, Blue Frontier
Marina Warner, Phantasmagoria
Bill Crider, A Mammoth Murder
Robert W. Bennett, Taming the Electoral College
Nicholas Stern et al, Stern Review Report
Kerry Emanuel, Divine Wind
Adam Langer, The Washington Story
Michael Scott Moore, Too Much of Nothing
Frank Schaeffer, Baby Jack
Wyn Cooper, Postcards from the Interior
Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov
Maureen Ogle, Ambitious Brew
Cass Sunstein, Infotopia
Paul W. Kahn, Out of Eden
Paul Lewis, Cracking Up
Pagan Kennedy, Confessions of a Memory Eater
David Greenberg, Nixon's Shadow
Duane Swierczynski, The Wheelman
George Levine, Darwin Loves You
John Barlow, Intoxicated
Alicia Steimberg, The Rainforest
Alan Wolfe, Does American Democracy Still Work?
John Dickerson, On Her Trail
Marcus Sakey, The Blade Itself
Randy Boyagoda, Governor of the Northern Province
John Gittings, The Changing Face of China
Rachel Kadish, Tolstoy Lied
Eric Rauchway, Blessed Among Nations
Tim Brookes, Guitar and other books
Ruth Padel, Tigers in Red Weather
William Haywood Henderson, Augusta Locke
Jed Horne, Breach of Faith
Robert Greer, The Fourth Perspective
David Plotz, The Genius Factory
Michael Allen Dymmoch, White Tiger
Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Civilizing the Enemy
Tom Lutz, Doing Nothing
Libby Fischer Hellmann, A Shot To Die For
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
Bob Harris, Prisoner of Trebekistan
Elaine Flinn, Deadly Collection
Louise Welsh, The Bullet Trick
Gregg Hurwitz, Last Shot
Martha Powers, Death Angel
N.M. Kelby, Whale Season
Mario Acevedo, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
Dominic Smith, The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre
Simon Blackburn, Lust
Linda L. Richards, Calculated Loss
Kevin Guilfoile, Cast of Shadows
Ronlyn Domingue, The Mercy of Thin Air
Shari Caudron, Who Are You People?
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel
Steven Miles, Oath Betrayed
Alan Brown, Audrey Hepburn's Neck
Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale

--Marshal Zeringue