Monday, February 22, 2016

Coded For Murder


Title: Coded For Murder
Age and Genre: Adult, Thriller/Mystery
Word Count: 70 000

Query:

The leaders of a tech startup are serially tortured, poisoned and bludgeoned to death, propelling a scarred detective into a three-day chase among Montréal’s cafés, hipsters, and geeks to stop a killer from striking again.

Three years after the death of his wife and son (for which he is partly responsible), Chief Inspector Derek JAMES of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal has accepted his physical and emotional scars and lives for the thrill of his next case. But the investigation is complicated by his boss trying to kill him, and the need to protect the twelve-year-old psychiatric patient who witnessed the murder. Plus, the startup’s CEO won’t let anything get in the way of her selling the company. With two more attacks occurring within twenty-four hours, James must race to the finish to catch the murderer.


First 250 Words

CHAPTER ONE
April 2, 6:50 am

“Strung up by the river? Without a face?”

Chief Inspector Derek James of the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal tucked his cold hands into his pockets and looked up. A rope looped over the middle branch of an oak in the urban beach park. Above him hung a body with an exposed skull, framed by sparse hair on top, ears on either side, and a wrinkly neck puckered in a noose. The face was stripped to the bone with eroded teeth set in a perpetual grin as if the skull were enjoying a joke at everyone’s expense.

James’s gut tightened, but he stilled the reaction in an instant, regaining his calm.

“I’m sure we’re thinking the same thing, Derek.”  Forensic Pathologist John Seymour exercised professional restraint, but his eyes were bright and keen. “What could this poor guy have done to deserve this?”

James took his time responding. Dawn cast a blue light on the water and snow. A damp cold sank through his coat and into his bones. It was amazing how the usually peaceful beach park took on a menacing air: the St. Lawrence River choppier than usual, swirls of sand and snow rolling like tumbleweeds, the sky heavy and low. But a children’s playground lay behind the hanging body, and its red swings, bright yellow slide, and empty wading pool anchored the mind in a comforting reality.

“What can you tell me, Doctor?”

*****

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The Judges

&

Me!

Visitors welcome!
Please comment as to whether this pitch piques your interest and what feedback you have about making it stronger.
Your assessments will be appreciated by the participants.




8 comments:

  1. Query: The first paragraph does well to hook the reader. Tighten it a bit more and you'll have a killer tagline. The second paragraph gives good detail regarding the angst of the protagonist, but the third is a bit off putting - delete but and plus and deliver your antagonists with more oomph.

    250 words: Spot on! Great scene! If the rest of the book delivers like this, you're good to go. Now do the same for the query!

    Excellent job!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Query: although in theory the first paragraph is convoluted and confusing, it works for me. The vibe is AWESOME. I'm already in love with you. A bizarre mystery involving Canadian hipster culture somehow perhaps? Yes, please! Plus, I already get the idea that there will be some humor in this mystery, and THAT IS MY FAVORITE THING, EVER. Tim Dorsey, for instance. Well, one of my favorite things.

    Okay, next paragraph. I would tighten the first line somehow. "Three years after he mistakenly [hopefully, or I hate him] had a hand in the death of his wife and son..."

    "...the investigation is complicated..." I actually want you to remind me of the investigation here because my brain eats too many beans and farts too much. "...the investigation into the bizarre string of deaths..."

    Female CEO, too - dude. I heart you so, so much.

    250 - the dialogue...I don't mind it starting with this dialogue, because I don't mind not knowing who is talking, actually - the image and voice catch me enough that I keep reading anyway. I just need the dialogue to settle into the context better. Because once I'm reading I don't know why someone would ask those questions. Tweak it somehow. "Strung up by the river? Without a face? Sheesh, this guy's having a worse Monday than we are." Probably shouldn't be THAT, because then I picture the Kathy-with-a-K-and-Cathy-with-a-C Kids in the Hall "Mondays, sheesh!" sketches, and while I would love for those two to be detectives in this book, that's probably not what's happening.

    Okay, James, Derek, John. I still don't know who has said anything yet, actually, or how many people are there. This is really confusing. You can open with the dialogue, but I need to get more context ASAP or the ground falls out from under me.

    Good imagery, except I do not agree that the playground in the backdrop makes this more comforting. And is this the guy that accidentally killed his kid? So, I'm not in this guy's head right now. I would give the imagery, and that's it...maybe show a hint of the feelings connected to the images for him. Let us get to know him by putting us in his mind, and not by telling us how he feels, because I really don't get him yet, and need to identify. I'm still getting the sense of a dark humor running through this, perhaps..."enjoying a joke at everyone's expense"...and if that is the case, I would add another subtle hint of that, as well, in the first 250.

    This is one I want to read more of, for sure. Please alert me somehow when it is published :)

    Thank you for the entry.

    ReplyDelete
  3. strong premise and strong query start - but with tension like this, your query needs to hit harder. I loved all the bits of your first sentence but wanted them to have more fire power- so I tinkered. I also tinkered with your next paragraph. use those ideas a spring board to clean up the body and make it sing :)

    The serial torture, poisoning and bludgeoning of the leaders of a tech startup propel a scarred detective into a three-day chase among Montréal’s cafés, hipsters, and geeks to stop a killer from striking again.

    Three years after the death of his wife and son, Chief Inspector Derek JAMES of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal has accepted his physical and emotional scars. The blame he shoulders for the death of his loved ones has left him number. He now lives for the thrill of his next case. But the investigation into a serial killer turns into a cat and mouse chase and James doesn’t have the advantage of always being the cat. (or something along those lines -). The investigation turns complicated when his boss tries to kill him, and he lands new baggage in the form of a twelve-year-old psychiatric patient who witnessed the murder and now needs his protection. And the bloody startup’s CEO won’t let anything get in the way of her selling the company. With two more attacks in twenty-four hours, James needs the one thing he doesn’t have…time (or something like that ;)


    First 250
    BAM! well done and powerful - love the details - i've got pretty clear picture of the scene - thank you :)
    only question was
    But a children’s playground lay behind the hanging body, and its red swings, bright yellow slide, and empty wading pool anchored the mind in a comforting reality. A comforting reality? This sentence was like opposing forces at first for me - until the last few words.

    best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Query: That opening paragraph plays like the elevator pitch. Very quick summary. At the end of the second paragraph, I feel like I know the plot points pretty well, but don’t know much about the character as a person. I guess what I’m missing is the emotional heart. The “why this matters” part.

    First 250 Words: Here, I’m really drawn in. I like the tone, the descriptions. I would definitely read more. I wonder if you can capture some of this flavor in the critique.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you, everyone, for your comments. They were very helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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