Thursday, 17 April 2014

Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen

The billionaire picked a heck of a day to die.

This opening line has some potential. It's short; there's foreshadowing so blatant it borders on preamble, though helpful for all those people who had trouble with their grade 6 reading comprehension. Nevertheless, we have a character in the form of a rich man who seems to be capable of picking his death day which suggests suicide. Names aren't necessary as long as readers have more than a pronoun to work with. Because this tells us about an impending death, it sets up the ticking time bomb plot device. We read on, anticipating the sentence in which the billionaire dies.

Unfortunately, with the next line, this opening falls flat on its face with with the overused and abused weather report.

It was a sunny Saturday in early April, [Isn't that always the way?] a beautiful afternoon in downtown Saint Paul, the kind of day that seemed to chase away memory of the long Minnesota winter just passed.

The next line:

It was not the kind of afternoon for murder.

Which makes me wonder: What is the best afternoon for murder? This is how preamble can make an opening go melodramatically stupid.

First thing said:

"This is what I'm talking about, Stevens."

This is said in reference to the weather. In the end, this scene unfolds as if it were the beginning of a movie and not the beginning of a book, which it is, so go figure.

There are 219 chapters in this book, which suggests they are short and quick, which in turn suggests this is fast paced.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

I'll give this 2.5/5 on the strength of the opening line, but I can't help but feel I'm being too generous.

Theodore Moracht

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