Friday, February 16, 2007

Pg. 69: "Art's Blood"

Art’s Blood, named by Spinetingler Magazine as one of its 2006’s best reads, is second in the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries series written by Vicki Lane. The series began with Signs in the Blood and will be followed by Old Wounds (June 2007) and In a Dark Season (2008).

Vicki put Art's Blood to the "page 69 test" and reported the following:

“Arrgh!” I think, looking at page 69 of Art’s Blood. It seems singularly unsuited as a representative for the rest of the book. But what the hell, I’m an English major – I can find meaning anywhere. So, here we go.

On page 69 of Art’s Blood, my protagonist Elizabeth Goodweather fiftyish widow, herb grower, ex-back-to-the-land hippie with a mountainside farm in western NC – has just met Willow (a New Age pilgrim of the type that proliferates in nearby Asheville) whose son Aidan is the chief suspect in the murder that is central to the story. Willow is expounding on her dream of the simple life, a farm with milk goats and sheep for wool, as well as “. . . a beautiful organic garden with healing herbs – and perhaps a hospice for AIDS patients. But I have to be able to travel as well.”

Elizabeth said nothing, having heard such fantasies before. Travel and farms were, in her experience, incompatible. Milk goats required milking – twice daily. She smiled quietly, remembering her own years of keeping a cow – milking in all weathers, early and late. A neighbor had once asked her. ‘Know the difference ‘tween bein’ in jail and keepin’ a milk cow? Iffen you’re in jail, you don’t have to milk the durned cow.’”

Okay, we’ve learned a bit about Elizabeth’s past and her propensity to smile quietly and not argue with the uninformed. This brief passage also delineates three of the types that inhabit the Elizabeth Goodweather chronicles – the canny, native-born mountain folk, the New Age seekers who have made Asheville, NC and the surrounding area, “the Sedona of the East,” and Elizabeth a “transplant” to the mountains who, after twenty-some years, has a foot in both cultures.

Onward to another excerpt.

“The cheerful twangle of a bluegrass banjo blared from the CD player in the living room, and through the kitchen window Elizabeth could see Ben and Kyra sitting together on the built-in corner bench, coffee mugs in hand. Kyra, who seemed much recovered from the shock of the night before, was actually giggling at something Ben was showing her in a magazine. . . . a Roz Chast spread in The New Yorker.”

Aha, hints of our main character’s tastes – bluegrass music and The New Yorker. Here I can’t resist mentioning a young woman who interviewed me once. She said something about Elizabeth being a transplanted Yankee. I was aghast. “Where the hell did you get that idea? She’s a native Floridian with Alabama ancestry on her mother’s side! What makes you think she’s a Yankee?”

“Well, she’s a liberal . . . and she eats goat cheese and reads The New Yorker.”


The excerpt also gives us a glimpse of Ben, Elizabeth’s nephew and business partner, who is about to become involved with Kyra, the troubled young artist who is somehow at the center of the mystery. One of Kyra’s lovers has recently been murdered; another is under suspicion of the murder; and the house the three shared has just been torched. But is Kyra villain, victim, both . . . or neither?

And a final excerpt, as Kyra jumps up and runs to hug Willow.

“What’s happening with Aidan? Did you see our house? I tried to get our stuff out but they wouldn’t let me . . . Tell me Aidan’s all right.”

What, indeed, is happening with Aidan?

So, there’s more meat on Page 69 than I had thought – characters and characterization, setting, a bit of back story, foreshadowing – all that writing stuff.

Thanks to Vicki for the input.

Read an excerpt from Art's Blood.

Among the praise for Art's Blood:
Lane's sharp eye for detail gets put to good use in this second installment of her Appalachian series. At 53, Elizabeth Goodweather has been a resident of Asheville, N.C., for more than two decades, operating a small farm with her nephew Ben. This is a time of transition for the rural community, where older residents who still churn their own butter live side by side with hip young artists looking for inspiration. Three such artists, Kyra, Aidan and Boz, known collectively as The 3, have moved into the house across the road from Elizabeth's and are planning a performance art piece for the new wing of Asheville's Museum of Art. When Boz is found dead, and The 3's house burns to the ground, Elizabeth gets drawn into a dangerous mystery that may lead her to share Boz's fate. The widow Goodweather is a wonderful character: plucky, hip and wise. The dialogue sparkles with authenticity, and Lane generates suspense without sacrificing the charm and mystique of her mountain community.
Publishers Weekly

Art’s Blood is the second in the Elizabeth Goodweather series by Vicki Lane and it’s a terrific addition. Skillfully written full of dynamic characters of substance with a well scripted plot that pulls you in and will keep you reading deep into the night. With an eye for detail Lane has given us a vivid portrayal of North Carolina’s hill country and it‘s many varied people. The dialogue is effective and exceedingly well done helping to give a real flavor for the dialect of the region. Elizabeth Goodweather is a spirited heroine who is a joy to read about almost as if reading about an old friend. An evocative story that will grip readers from beginning to end.
Andrea Maloney, Spinetingler Magazine

Vicki Lane shows us an exotic and colorful picture of Appalachia from an outsider's perspective through a glass darkly.
Sharyn McCrumb
Read Vicki's interview with Cozy Library.

Visit Vicki Lane's official website and her Amazon blog.

Previous "page 69 tests:"
David Silbey, A War of Frontier and Empire
Peggy Orenstein, Waiting for Daisy
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, My Year Inside Radical Islam
Mark Coggins, Candy from Strangers
Arthur Allen, Vaccine
Beth Ann Fennelly, Great with Child
Kenneth Gross, Shylock Is Shakespeare
Trinie Dalton, Wide Eyed
Barbara J. King, Evolving God
Patrick Anderson, The Triumph of the Thriller
Linda R. Hirshman, Get to Work
Lynne Tillman, American Genius, A Comedy
Patrick Radden Keefe, Chatter
Dana Stabenow, A Deeper Sleep
Siobhan Roberts, King of Infinite Space
Erin McKean, That's Amore!
Michael Lowenthal, Charity Girl
Niraj Kapur, Heaven's Delight
Keith Dixon, The Art of Losing
David Edgerton, The Shock of the Old
Mary Sharratt, The Vanishing Point
David Fulmer, The Dying Crapshooter's Blues
Anya Ulinich, Petropolis
Jagdish Bhagwati, In Defense of Globalization
Olen Steinhauer, Liberation Movements
Andrei Markovits, Uncouth Nation
Julie Kistler, Scandal
Robert Ward, Four Kinds of Rain
Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist
William Landay, The Strangler
Kate Holden, In My Skin
Brian Wansick, Mindless Eating
Noria Jablonski, Human Oddities
Ruth Scurr, Fatal Purity
Neal Pollack, Alternadad
Bella DePaulo, Singled Out
Steve Hamilton, A Stolen Season
Eric Klinenberg, Fighting for Air
Donna Moore, ...Go to Helena Handbasket
Louis Bayard, The Pale Blue Eye
Neal Thompson, Riding with the Devil
Sherry Argov, Why Men Marry Bitches
P.J. Parrish, An Unquiet Grave
Tyler Knox, Kockroach
Andrew Rehfeld, The Concept of Constituency
Laura Wiess, Such a Pretty Girl
Jeremy Blachman, Anonymous Lawyer
Andrew Pyper, The Wildfire Season
Wendy Werris, An Alphabetical Life
Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know
Meghan Daum, The Quality of Life Report
Scott Reynolds Nelson, Steel Drivin' Man
Richard Aleas, Little Girl Lost
Paul Collins, The Trouble With Tom
John McFetridge, Dirty Sweet
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