Twenty miles off the Jersey shore, a seventeen-year old girl stands alone at the helm of a small schooner, sailing under the cover of darkness. Her cargo: the remains of a stranger who attacked her earlier that night.
The girl is Hazel Moran, a trucker’s daughter, and she’s anything but your typical Jersey girl. Sheltered and home schooled, she’s grown up aboard the schooner ‘Witch’ and riding shotgun in the cab of an old Kenworth with her father.
There’s not much on the water or the road she can’t handle; its people she’s not so sure about. But when this shy girl from a ghost-town on the Delaware Bay becomes the target of a ruthless group hunting for her blue-haired brother, a stolen tractor-trailer truck, and a delivery that never arrived, she’s forced into the role of a reluctant Travis McGee.
For ten sweltering days leading up to the Fourth of July, she navigates the waters and highways of New Jersey, armed with fishing tackle, high voltage and ingenuity as she searches for her missing brother and a shipment people are dying over. Faced with white trash, Born Agains, appliance salesmen, a suspiciously wealthy stranger and an unstable stalker, Hazel has a lot to learn as she sets in motion a twisted plot to take them down one by one. Take the LAST EXIT IN NEW JERSEY, where the lines dividing innocence from evil and devotion from depravity aren’t always clear, and nothing is coincidence.
This is a synopsis not a hook. Of course, it hooked me, thus proving you don't always need a hook to be hooked.
What got me: "reluctant Travis McGee". Of course I love those books. "Last Exit in New Jersey" which is homage to Herbert Selby also an icon. "For ten days" lends an urgency and immediacy to the book too.
Plus Hazel sounds like a kick ass girl.
To be a hook, you need to tighten it up, prune the recitation of events and focus on what Hazel has to do or decide.