3rd SR Crapometer #100

Dear Miss Snark,

What if you suddenly suspected, eighteen months later, that your husband's fatal accident might not have been an accident?

Cassandra (Casey) Edgar, a freelance researcher, makes a good living providing information to Silicon Valley companies and individuals.

Casey spent eighteen months battling depression while she adjusted to the sudden death of her husband, Barry Stewart, in a hiking accident. Still not quite her old self again, she reluctantly attends a wake for Michael Mohr, a friend who had been on the hike with Barry. At the wake, Casey learns that two other hikers who'd been with Barry that day have also died.

Is the cluster of deaths coincidence or something more sinister? Was Barry's death really an accident? Casey decides to investigate. Soon, she is almost killed, a victim of a hit-and-run. Is she a threat to someone who has murdered before and would murder again or is the hit-and-run just another coincidence?

INTO THE WEB is an eighty thousand word mystery. I've enclosed the first ten pages.

Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.

well, this is a good set up but there's no sense of the plot. We obviously don't want a synopsis here, but we should get some sense of the antagonist and the conflict.

Silicon Valley movers and shakers had all known and trusted Michael Mohr. Mohr & Jacobs wrote wills, setup trusts, bullet-proofed pre-nups, and argued divorce cases when the firm wasn't handling IPOs, stock options, mergers, and acquisitions. If a client's child was picked up and facing charges, Mohr & Jacobs handled that too.

The wake was a crush. Casey Edgar was late. College students in Silicon Valet uniforms had filled Hill Prep's parking lot and were now parking cars on the tranquil, tree-lined street in front of the Mohrs' sprawling, pseudo-Italian villa. The Hill Prep lot looked like the sales floor of Silicon Valley Auto Group in Los Gatos, filled with swank cars up to and including a couple Rolls Royces and a vintage gull-wing Mercedes. Beemers, Mercedeses, Boxters and a Hummer or two lined the street for a quarter mile in either direction. Casey's ten-year-old Honda Accord with 180,000 miles on the odometer was outclassed.

The rainstorm had lightened to drizzle. Damp, fall leaves splattered the vans from A Moveable Feast that were parked out front. From the sidewalk, Casey could hear the low rumble of conversation, the muted clink of crystal, and Jackson Browne's "For A Dancer."

Music from her college days was now on oldies stations and also appropriate background music for wakes, it seemed. They were all getting older. Scratch that. Michael Mohr wasn't getting older. Neither was Barry.

Casey started up the flagstone path. She'd managed to muster the nerve to mingle with people, some of whom she hadn't seen since Barry died, but she dreaded it. Was it too late to turn back, go home, make some excuse? Too late, she told herself. Besides, Pamela expected her.

Earlier, at Huntington's Memorial Chapel, she'd found herself caught up unexpectedly in the emotional undertow of Michael's service. She'd thought she had her memories and emotions under tight control, but when Michael's daughter, Jenna sang "You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings" a capella, Casey's heart ached. She fought back tears as memories of Barry's service eighteen months earlier overwhelmed her. The melancholy pipe organ, the flickering candles, the stained glass windows in Memorial Chapel, the minister's somber voice as he spoke of the sudden death of someone who'd been so vibrant, so alive, and so seemingly invincible. Barry. Michael. Michael. Barry.

After the closing prayer, she'd stood near the glass doors at the back of the church, waiting for the rain to let up, wrapped in her own misery.

Someone clutched her arm, startling her.

(here's your starting point)
"You're coming back to the house, aren't you, Case?"

Casey turned as Pamela Mohr repeated the question, "Aren't you?"

"I hadn't planned to, Pamela. I, I wouldn't be much help."

Pamela Mohr's voice softened to a whisper. "They're saying Michael was drunk when he drove into that tree. Michael couldn't have, wouldn't have, Case. You know that. Come back, please? Talk with me. No one else understands."

How could she say no?

So here she was after finding her nerve.

Casey stepped up on the porch. The heavy, carved door opened quietly, before she could knock. Handing her dripping raincoat to the attendant at the door, Casey side-stepped the swirling conversations and tray-carrying catering staff and went in search of Pamela. She knew (where) she'd find her, in front of the antique pink Carrera marble fireplace that served as the living room's focal point. (take out -where- and you have a sentence that doesn't clunk as much)


you're awash in description. ACTION.
No plot, too much description, concept is pretty run of the mill.
Form rejection.


Anonymous said...

You might want to think about renaming that one character.


Bella Stander said...

I like the opening description to set up the action, though it could be more acutely observed. I think you should tie in Casey's husband's death sooner & explain why she's the only one driving a beater.("Casey recognized the silver gullwing Mercedes of Barry's squash partner, Winthrop Lothrop III. Her throat tightened as she recalled his awkward attempts at consolatory small talk at Barry's funeral just 18 months ago." etc.)

Is Casey Edgar's name a nod to Edgar Cayce, or merely an unfortunate coincidence? Whichever, I suggest changing it.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that Jackson Browne song called "For a Rocker," not "For a Dancer"?

Anonymous said...

Wow - I have to say I was a bit surprised by the last line of Miss Snark's critique. I thought your first page was quite well written. This is something I would definitely keep reading, although I would like to have a few more clues as to details about these people and what makes them unique and interesting by this point. Having your query fill in some of that helps to keep my interest piqued.

I'd keep at this one, author. The writing is quite competent. And... when you get right down to it... no story is truly a new story. It's just a unique take on an old theme usually that causes one book to take off. If you can get your unique imprint on this story, I (who love mysteries) would definitely buy and read.

magz said...

Ok, seeing as this is # 100(!) and the crowd has gone home,
I'm gonna take a sideways glancing whack at it purely as a Reader..
For the Writer.

It wasnt Bad. It sounded heartfelt, ernest, and like you've both read a lot and write well.

It also sounded like about 1000 others I've read, not awful but 1 step above cereal box backs. Since somebody published the first 999 that I've read, it may be totally saleable to the right market.

I know it's only the Opener, but so far it just feels generic; either generic Romance/w/Mystery or generic Mystery/w/Romance.

Keep writing and I'll keep reading! I'd pass on buying this at cover price, but wouldnt toss it out unread if someone gave it to me. It's well written, just not fascinating, yanno? It sorta reminds me of Robin Cook stylewise, who come ta think of it makes a mint writing generic medical thrillers.
That I've read;
when someone gave them to me.

McKoala said...

I think that this just starts in the wrong place. Start almost anywhere but with the description of a law firm and, along with some cutting of description, it will immediately perk up!

Susan said...

Funerals are usually a licence to show sharp, edgy interaction between characters, in all their sorrow and discomfort and hypocrisy. Everyone will be talking about--or not talking about--how Michael died drunk at the wheel. I suggest you skip the description and go for the jugular.

Anonymous said...

I thought this part was beautiful:

After the closing prayer, she'd stood near the glass doors at the back of the church, waiting for the rain to let up, wrapped in her own misery.

And this part a nice abrupt change from the emotions just above:

Someone clutched her arm, startling her.

Best of luck!

Jo Bourne said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
acd said...

"The wake was a crush"? What's that mean?

*has never been to a wake*

Thraesja said...

It means there was a crush of people. Very crowded. I've never seen anyone just write it that way before. Perhaps a regional experession? I had to read it twice to make sure that was what was meant.

Anonymous said...

The writing was good. I second the opinion that you need to delve into your story and bring out the unique aspects that differentiate it from other similar books on the market. Keep at it. You've got a very promising first page.