Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Three-Day Affair by Michael Kardos

Six years ago, my bassist was shot dead in a New York nightclub.

Even though this line is of the back story variety, it is effective. We have some conflict in the form of a dead bassist and a character in the form of a narrator who, we may infer, has some musical tendencies. There is some setting thrown in for good measure. This is enough to navigate with and be pulled in by. The short prologue goes on to describe and explain the circumstance,s and before you can contemplate finishing, it is over. The reader is hooked. Unfortunately, it is a prologue and the writer will have to rehook in chapter 1, especially if the story starts in another time and place, like those annoying Cussler novel.

Chapter 1:

It almost didn't happen - the kidnapping and everything after.

This is preamble. The next line makes it go down a little easier.

That's the part that gets me, even now.

So as this is preamble that points towards some upcoming conflict in the form of a kidnapping that could have been avoided, what needs to happen next is dive right into this opening line. The next line:

The phone call came early Sunday morning, waking me out of a dead sleep.

Oops, two cliches: bed setting and phone call opening in one sentence. So this makes the opening preamble even more preambly, that is, something that was added in a later draft of the novel to make the cliches of bed and phone go down easier or even unnoticed. Not that I'm saying this author did it that way, but it feels like it. Sometimes that is where preamble comes from: a desperate attempt to spice up an otherwise mediocre opening line, paragraph or page.

First thing said:

"You're going to have to count me out, man."

This is still on the first page as the 4:55 AM conversation dances around a top secret plot point forcing the reader to read on if they care to find out what is going on. Then the caller decides that it wasn't a good idea to call and hangs up. So basically the reader learns that there is a problem but isn't told what it is. Personally, as I'm holding a novel, I don't need to be assured that there's a problem in this novel, that I will take for granted, as a story without conflict is no story. What I do want is the problem, and some, if not all, of the sordid details.

Verdict: Pass

I will give this three stars for the engaging prologue and writing style, but chapter 1 has the type of opening that's been done before - many times. No amount of preamble will fix that.

Theodore Moracht

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