Lost hope conceals a rapier in its gown, Sandrine wrote in the margins of her copy of Julius Caesar.
At first glance this feels like what a first sentence should be: big, lofty, all embracing, - just plain old epic. It reveals character and hints at conflict; yet, there is a hint of pretentious. The rest of the paragraph is in the same annoying didactic lofty voice.
Life should fill our ears with warning...
...she'd penned this little piece...but it falls silent at our infant cry.
Whatever the hell that means. This opening reeks of artsy-fartsy melodramatic sentimentality.
It's hard at first to figure out what's going on. The narrator (secret literary-device Agent Pronoun) is on trial, so in this beginning the only mystery the reader cares about is who Sandrine is - that, and in general what the hell is going on. We're dropped right into the theoretical center of the middle of an elusive plot/life story without much information to construct our imaginations with. Unfortunately, the only thing that can save this is back story and after a slightly satisfying BS dump, by page 2 the plot starts to flex its muscles after breaking away from the sentimental artsy-fartsy sentence lining.
The focus in this beginning is words and general philosophical ideas you can have delivered to your e-mail box by signing up for any number of lofty newsletters. Ultimately, it feels overwritten. I need more than titillating vocabulary and philosophy to pull me into a mystery novel.
Nevertheless, the opening clause grows on one. The emotions of regret manage to make themselves known. Mercifully, by page 2 the writer comes down off his verbose high and tells the story as it should be told, in simple terms - things happening to people.
First thing said:
"You're the proverbial ham sandwich any pubic prosecutor can indict, Sam."
What proverbial ham sandwich would that be? A sam-ham?
Verdict: Pass (barely)