12.20.2006

HH Com 222 (218)

Anya Swanson meets Roan Kirkpatrick, a newly hired deckhand on a local fishing boat on the last day before he heads out to sea. He is an experienced fisherman with big plans for his future, plans he promises to discuss with Anya over dinner upon his return. She was counting on that dinner…

On a clear, cold night, in the treacherous waters of the Bering Sea, Roan and another deckhand are discovered missing off the deck of the fishing boat, miles from the closest port in near freezing water. The ship’s captain quickly concludes that the disappearance resulted in Roan’s death, a tragic result of an icy deck.

But Anya is unconvinced.

Anya is the investigator assigned to claim, so it’s her job to dig deeper, to see what no one else can bring themselves to see. From the messy, cramped office that she shares with her boss, she begins to piece the events together clue by clue, even while her personal life begins to fall apart around her.

As she probes deeper, she becomes convinced that Roan has somehow survived. But with dark motives driving him that remain his own. Anya must confront her suspicions that thrust her into a race to find the man she hopes is innocent, but may prove to be a savage killer.


You've got every non-essential detail here and none of the important stuff.

The hook starts after Roan is toast at sea. The conflict is Anya thinking he's still alive (a nice trick in ocean water, but never mind that now), and trying to figure out how/why/where he survived.

Why you put "messy office" in this is beyond me. Perhaps you've got your webcam tuned to Snark Central.

You'll benefit from a crit group. You've got some problems here that say to me you need to work more on the writing before you start sending this out.

8 comments:

JPD said...

I have no problem with Anya, a troubled insurance adjustor. She's become suddenly invested in her work, since she actually meet the claimant and even set a dinner date with him just before his tragic voyage to sea...

From Anya's "messy" perspective, her environment devolves as she researches the claims filed by the ship's captain and owner. But the Captain's story doesn't add up. There was no slip-and-fall accident, she suddenly realizes.

I can buy this premise completely. I infer that this is the sort of low-key story that creeps-up on the reader slowly before delivering its punches. I'm in, and want to know more....

I also liked that the name "Anya:" An everyday Insurance Adjustor during troubled times...

JPD (probably inferring too much into the story, but still liking it a lot...)

Anonymous said...

I would buy your book because:
1) I like the premise and Anya's interest in the case is believable.
2) I love the use of the Bering Sea as (partial?) setting
3) Once you've tightened and pruned, your writing will be fine.

HawkOwl said...

I totally disagree. The part about losing a deckhand off a crab fisher in the Bering Sea, I would totally read. At least I'm assuming it's a crab fisher, right? If I'm not mistaken, that's statistically THE most dangerous job on this continent.

The part about someone possibly surviving falling overboard in the Bering Sea and not being fished out definitely shows a lot of imagination, and having an insurance adjuster as a protagonist is impressively bold.

The love story / savage killer angles are disappointingly trite. I wish it had been, oh, I don't know, his old army buddy and a financial consiracy of surprising reach.

I'd look at pages, but I'm not really confident.

aries said...

I didn't understand "she was counting on that dinner..." It seems about as random as the messy office and makes Anya sound hungry and broke.

Anonymous said...

I assumed that "counting on that dinner" indicated she had a romantic interest in the guy, but yes it could have been clearer.
As to thinking he's still alive, I need some acknowledgement within the hook that that would take some fancy doing. It would take a rather complicated theory to imagine that being possible. Without at least acknowledging that in the hook, I got stuck at accepting her "faith" in that possibility.

tomdg said...

I understand "she was counting on that dinner" as meaning that he made a real impression on her - hence her interest in his disappearance.

What I don't buy is the coincidence that she (a) met and hit it off with him just before he disappeared, and (b) is responsible for the resulting claim when he doesn't return. I don't like plots which rely on coincidences like this. For me that will only work if the two are linked: e.g. if the reason she meets him in the first place is connected to her job as his insurer. Or, she asks for his file because she knew him - but that still relies on the coincidence that it's her firm which does the insurance. Maybe it's a small town ...

I'm also unconvinced by the captain of a fishing boat not being able to find two of his crew and assuming they (both?) "slipped and fell". How big is the boat? What were they doing out on deck? This feels to me more like a "how can two people disappear from a tiny boat without anyone noticing" puzzle, in which case the captain would be absolutely baffled, and only go with the explanation of a fall because he had no clue what else could have happened. In fact he'd probably end up on suspicion of two murders.

You mention that Anya's personal life is falling apart, but don't say why. I think it needs to be cut or explained. And isn't this a bit of a cliché? It would make a nice change to read about a detective / investigator who who keeps her work and life in balance and puts the file down at the end of the day and gets back to her family and friends. But probably not in a serious novel like this.

You may have a really good story here, but your hook makes it sound like you also have some big holes in your plot.

Like I can talk on that one ...

Anonymous said...

I think we need to know what she thinks he did instead of slipping off and dying. Is he on the lam because the cops/mafia/dangerous ex-wife are mad at him? Did he swim to Japan or get sucked down to Captain Nemo's undersea village? What?

In real life nobody falls off a boat fishing the Bering Sea and makes it ashore on their own. If the Coast Guard didn't find him and he's not dead there must be a conspiracy. The wild coincidence of inspiring a major crush in the heart of your death claim's insurance investigator the night before you go off to die, stretches to the far limits of believability so the conspiracy has to be very very good but I'm afraid it might not be.

cm allison said...

Having lived in Alaska, and having had an ex who worked on a floating fish processor; believe me, a person does not disappear off a fishing vessel in the Bearing Sea and survive. Even a survival suit is only good for a couple hours max. If the seas are rough, and the decks icy, you are roped or don't go on deck. He might disappear in port, but not off the vessel: every one is watching out for everyone else, they'd be throwing ropes and life preservers asap, get him back onboard, or they'd know he was dead as they watch him sink. Maybe you should have him disappear while docked?