Alley Cattan mugs into the bathroom mirror. He’s been perfecting that look – the loyal husband, sincere, a simple man overwhelmed by lofty justice – since the night his wife, Bernice, was arrested for murder. Today he will testify at Bernice’s trial. A smirk curls his lip.
Some say Alley has no conscience. That’s just jealousy talking. He has one. He just doesn’t check on it much. Alley has pedestrian good looks and small-time charisma, but he’s a big-time charmer, a disarmer who can hold a room. He sees himself as the perfect blend to take on Hollywood a la 1950.
your hook starts here
A screenwriter with more ambition than credits, Alley saw his chances hitting a snag in the demanding shape of Lovie Dietrich, the gossip columnist. Now he is free of that hag. He hadn't expected Bernice to be charged, but he’s sure she will be acquitted. And he will have gotten away with murder.(and ends here)
But Alley's footing is about to start quaking. While it heaves and yaws, we’ll see what in a man yields a smirk while he’s gambling with his wife's life.
SELFISH/SELFLESS, a novel of 100,000 words, tracks Alley from Brooklyn to Burma to golden-age Hollywood, where the players and intrigue might be beyond him. Or maybe not.
use that middle paragraph as your starting point for a hook that gives us a sense of actual events and the stakes.