Friday, 27 June 2014

The Baklava Club by Jason Goodwin

The man lives, or the man dies.

This is the question. Simple, suggestive not to mention brief, and we all know brevity is the soul of the hook. The next line:

It is a matter of the weather.

This must mean the weather plays a role in the conflict, like a tornado, a hurricane, or a snowstorm. If it doesn't then this would have to be the stupidest mention of weather ever. The next paragraph begins thus:

Tonight he will live: because the sea is smooth like watered silk beneath a crescent moon, the ship's wake fanning out like a tear.

I'm picturing the guy is hanging for dear life to a toaster oven in the middle of the ocean. But that doesn't make much sense, as a little later on we learn that there is an assassin on a ship picking the right moment to kill. The scene hooks as we watch the assassin watch the victim watch the sea from a railing and the assassin thinking how easy it would be to bash in the vic's head and flip him overboard. However, the "committee" wants this guy to disappear so the assassin decides to wait for a wind and the noise of the sea to drown out any annoying noises the victim might make to being killed as most people, after all, are too stupid to go quietly.

Chapter 1 is one page and as there are no long descriptive paragraphs, no back story or poetic musings this looks like it's to going to be a nicely paced novel.

First thing said:

"Good morning, Martha."

This comes at the beginning of chapter 2. Opening dialogue with polite banter is inauspicious, especially as this scene offers no immediate conflict, just someone showing up at some place looking for someone before the narrative takes a 180 nosedive into back story about the place. The great hook in chapter 1, which reads more like a prologue, as chapter 2 is with different people in a different place, disintegrates.

Verdict: Pass

Chapter 1 hooks; chapter 2 unhooks.

Theodore Moracht

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