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The Page 69 test – A Killing Coast – A DI Andy Horton crime novel

A Killing Coast, A DI Andy Horton crime novel by Pauline RowsonThe first I heard of the page 69 test was when a member of the public approached me in a bookshop where I was doing a book signing and said she always applied it when deciding which crime novel to purchase. She didn’t buy one of my novels so I’d obviously failed to reach her exacting standards, whatever they were. And I can’t remember which of my crime novels I was signing at the time. I browsed the Internet to find out who was responsible for this particular form of literary torture. The answer was the writer Marshall McLuhan championed more recently by John Sutherland in How to Read a Novel: A User’s Guide. Do we really need instructions on how to read a novel?


I applied the Page 69 test to DI Andy Horton (no. 11), Shroud of Evil and thought that I would also apply it to another Inspector Andy Horton crime novel, A Killing Coast, number seven in the series of currently thirteen (2017), set during the month of April.

Spitbank Fort, Solent - A Killing Coast, A DI Andy Horton MysteryThis is the scene where Inspector Andy Horton of Portsmouth CID and Detective Superintendent Steve Uckfield, head of the Major Crime Team, are on the Isle of Wight, interviewing the former wife of the victim, a Colin Yately, found dead in the sea by Spitbank Fort in the Solent. Yately, a former postman, lived in a flat at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight and judging by the books in his apartment and the notes on his desk he had a keen interest in local history. There appears to be no motive for his murder and no suspects. But there were certain aspects of his death that were puzzling and bizarre to say the least. A key ring was found on the dead man but no keys. The body was also… no hang on I don’t want to spoil it for those who want to read the novel, that is if I’ve passed the test!

Background before reading The Page 69 Test

 Margaret Yately is not at all upset to learn of her former husband’s death. Read her reaction before you plunge deep into page 69.

"Margaret Yately reached for a packet of cigarettes from the mantelpiece with nicotine-stained fingers and long fingernails that looked painful rather than attractive. Horton swiftly took in the tall woman. She was in her mid-fifties with scraggy bleached blonde hair, fashionably dressed in tight jeans, tucked into calf-high boots, with a low cut off the shoulder T-shirt displaying black bra straps and a tattoo of a butterfly on one shoulder and a cat on the other All this was squeezed on to a figure with rolls of fat around the hips and midriff. The sand had run out of this hourglass long ago."

She claims her ex-husband was begging her to take him back but she had refused, she’d wasted her youth being married to him she wasn’t going to give up what she had left of her life to spend it with him.

‘He was always a loner. No conversation, quiet, dull, while I’m the opposite.’

Horton saw a hard, uncaring woman, who thought she was attractive and perhaps to a certain type of man she was but not to him or Uckfield.


And now for Page 69 of A Killing Coast

Recalling the notes on Yately’s desk, Horton said, ‘Did Colin ever express an interest in local history?’

‘He liked watching that history channel on television.’

That wasn’t quite the same thing but it was a link nevertheless, and when you had nothing to go with a link was grabbed like a lifebelt. ‘What about an interest in Ventnor,’ he asked as Uckfield returned. Then Horton remembered something else he had read in those notes on the dead man’s desk, ‘Or the caves and chines on the Island.’

She eyed him as if he was two sheets to the wind. That was a ‘no’ then. He caught Uckfield’s glance, which said this was a waste of time, and he agreed. Horton politely thanked her for her help, wondering if she’d sense his sarcasm but all he saw was relief in her bloodshot eyes. At the door he asked her if she had keys to her husband’s apartment.

‘Why would I want them?’ she answered incredulous.

Horton expressed his sincere condolences at her loss despite the fact they were no longer married, which seemed to cause her no embarrassment. He told her that they’d liaise closely with her daughter.

‘Then she can tell me if you ever catch who killed Colin.’ And with that the door closed on them.

Horton climbed into the car, noticing a twitch of net curtain opposite.

Uckfield said, ‘That was Trueman on the phone. The landlord says he’s not been in Yately’s apartment and the second set of keys hasn’t left his office.’

So they could rule out the landlord and daughter.

Uckfield said, ‘Yately was well shot of her. Think she killed him?’


‘Maybe she got fed up with him pestering her to take him back.’

If you believe that. It’s not much of a motive though.’

‘It could be enough for a new boyfriend.’

Horton considered that. ‘I think she was telling the truth when she said she didn’t have a key to his apartment but we should still check her out, chat to the staff at the pub where she works, and ask the neighbours if there’s a new man on the horizon.’

‘No need, looks as though he’s just arrived.’


Where to buy Pauline Rowson's books


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APRIL 20TH, 2018 @ 14:54:07 BST

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