I submitted my second novel, Anatomy of Murder to the 'Page 69 Test', and this was the result...
From page 69:
“...confess it likely that if Mr Palmer had not called, had the note arrived from Mr Pither without introduction, I should probably have found myself in that outhouse and driving with you to His Majesty’s this morning in any case.”
“I see, Madam. You feel you are become the monstrous and unfeminine ghoul some have already made you out to be, and you feel Miss Trench does not approve?”
“My sister made it perfectly plain to the whole house that she does not approve, yet I feel neither monstrous nor less a woman than I was two years ago.” She turned towards him and folded her arms. “I will do what seems right to me, but I have to allow that Rachel has a better sense of the social niceties than I do, just as her sense of music is superior to mine. I make myself appear foolish at times, and that reflects on my family.”
“Miss Trench wishes you to have something other to think of than your husband’s illness, madam.”
Harriet smiled a little unhappily. “Yes, Crowther, but I think she would rather I was diverted by her plans for redecorating the salon at Caveley than by whatever corpses we find strewn in our way.”
“She must accept the sister she has, Mrs Westerman. I can only hope she does not raise your temper by suggesting you should behave in any other fashion. I have noticed you are at your most sharp when you suspect you are in the wrong.”
In a book of over 300 pages, you are probably never going to find one that does a perfect job of representing the whole. Anatomy of Murder is set in London in 1781 and ranges from the glories of the Opera House to the seething misery in the slums; from naval espionage to celebrity worship, and its major characters include a castrato and a fortune teller, but here we have a short, quite bare scene. It does however feature the two principals of the series, Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther, and shows something of their developing friendship. Harriet and Crowther have been asked by an intelligence officer at the Admiralty, Mr Palmer, to investigate the drowning of Nathaniel Fitzraven, an employee of the Opera House, and a man suspected of espionage. The outhouse Harriet mentions is where they examined his body. They have also been asked to conceal the government’s interest. Unfortunately this means Harriet’s sister believes she is making enquiries out of an unhealthy curiosity, careless of the family’s reputation. Harriet’s admission here, that she might have got involved in the case even without Mr Palmer’s intervention is typical of her honesty. She can be impulsive and stubborn, but she tries to be clear-eyed about herself. I think it because of this she has a talent to see into the motivations of others. Crowther, the reclusive anatomist protected from social niceties by his wealth, can be a great deal colder and sharper than he is here but he is becoming fond of Harriet and her family. I think one can also see here that she has learnt to value his habit of plain speaking.