Monday, 28 July 2014

Death at the Door by Carolyn Hart

Everything was set.

Before anything else I added the byline hook label, as that is what will draw people more than anything else to this novel. The plug on the cover won't hurt either: a Bookstore mystery. So I will add the book about books label too.

The opening line is short and does nothing to establish plot or character. Pure preamble. The only thing good about this is that it is short and can be easily ignored, except it can't because it is the first line. Unfortunately, the opening line is next to impossible to ignore. I try all the time but can't do it, unless it is long and tiresome like the opening line of Robinson Crusoe.

It's the next line that has the semblance of a hook:

She should be dead next week.

Not bad, but the pronounology is annoying. Who will be dead? Why all the mystery? Why hold back? What's the secret? Why be stingy with the plot points? Share! Authors don't because they want you to have a reason to read on. Clever, huh? But once someone has passed the threshold and read more than a few hundred books and perused thousands more in the quest to find a good read, this technique fails, it's like the carrot trick on the end of the stick - readers learn it's a trick.

As this is about a bookstore, I'd kill to have a beginning that tells us something about the bookstore, or even better, something about a mysterious book and all its quirky characteristics. Instead, the whole first paragraph has that flavor of preamble; all we learn is that something is up and that people are going to die.

First thing said:

"Not my lucky day."

Verdict: Fail

Theodore Moracht

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