Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pg. 69: "Candy from Strangers"

Candy from Strangers is the third volume in Mark Coggins' "August Riordan" mystery series.

Mark put his novel to the "page 69 test" and reported back:
Candy from Strangers involves the disappearance of a young woman named Caroline Stockwell who has set up a web site with a girlfriend to solicit cash and gifts via wish lists. The Goth-themed site features pictures and videos of the young women that range from mild to racy and often involve indulging the fetishes of their creepy fan base.

When Caroline goes missing, her mother hires PI August Riordan to find her, but neither Riordan nor Mrs. Stockwell realize at the outset that Caroline has the web site — and that someone she met through it may have abducted her.

Caroline is going to art school in San Francisco and is working part time at a coffee shop to help pay tuition. On page 69 of the book, Riordan is interviewing the manager of the shop to see if he can supply anything that might prove useful in locating her.

The interview itself is not very productive. The only nugget of value surfaces when Riordan asks if Caroline has friends on the staff. The manager replies:

“If I’m honest, I’d have to say no. Caroline’s a bit of a loner. She always took her breaks by herself, usually to walk up and down 24th Street snapping photos. I was probably as close to her as anyone in the store, and that’s not saying much.”

This gives some insight into Caroline’s character and the alienation she feels from co-workers, family and fellow students.

The interview is cut short when the manager rushes off to deal with a minor emergency in the shop. Riordan lingers to look at an exhibit of Caroline’s photographs in the store’s community exhibition space, and as he is reading the accompanying artist’s statement — and the page rolls over to 70 — the manger returns.

He is carrying a load of boxes from that Caroline has shipped to the store to avoid alerting her parents to her extracurricular income. The manager thrusts them into Riordan’s arms and asks if he can deliver them to Caroline’s home, as there isn’t room for them on the premises.

Although he doesn’t understand their full significance, this is Riordan’s first clue that Caroline has been soliciting proverbial candy from strangers.

Many thanks to Mark for the input.

Read an excerpt from Candy from Strangers.

Among the praise for Candy from Strangers:

"I've been waiting a long time for a fresh look at the private eye story. Mark Coggins has delivered it here ... It’s original, its smart and it was good to the last page."
—Michael Connelly

"[A] gripping ... hard-boiled exploit... Riordan's street smarts and witty asides will make him a familiar—and welcome—figure to fans of Robert Parker's Boston PI, Spenser."
Publishers Weekly

"This third outing for Coggins's private investigator August Riordan proves him a worthy successor to the iconic Sam Spade... [A] volume that fits comfortably alongside those of Hammett and Chandler. Heartily recommended."
Library Journal

"A mystery that puts on paper the problems modern society has with a need for instant gratification and a social structure more and more based on computer screens and keyboards. Coggins makes human and real what is to many just a story in the news. And he does it with humor, skill and depth."
Crimespree Magazine

"Crackling and whip smart ... Coggins' novel reincarnates the heady excesses of earlier chroniclers of debauchery in the Golden State, such as Roger L. Simon and Arthur Lyons."
Mystery Scene Magazine
Watch Mark talk about Candy from Strangers on San Francisco Bay Area cable TV show Book Watch and listen to the NPR podcast of Chapter One. (Jeff Pierce has a little background to that reading at The Rap Sheet.)

The first August Riordan mystery, The Immortal Game, was nominated for the Shamus, Barry and Independent Publishers (IPPY) book awards and was selected by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Detroit Free Press and January Magazine as one of the top ten mysteries of the year. called Vulture Capital, August Riordan's return, "A trip through the dark satanic mills of venture capital with Chandler or Hammett as tour guide."

Check out Mark's blog, "Riordan's Desk."

Previous "page 69 tests:"
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