Wednesday, November 4, 2009

39 Secret Agent

TITLE: Homebody
GENRE: Mystery

I should have taken a vacation. Hell, I needed one. Especially walking into this mess. But, no. Stupid me, I had to barrel in and get involved.

It should have been an average Monday. My task list included taking my dog to the vet, meeting with my mentor, then inspecting a couple of vacant houses I owned. The first two items went off without a hitch. But the moment Roxie started barking when we stepped into the first house, I should have packed up and made for the Rockies . My life would be less of a mess that way.

"Quit that racket! Stupid dog!" I followed my yowling yellow Labrador into the gray and maroon two-story Victorian. Where was my property manager, Tyrone Clermont? I'd been waiting for him well past our 1:30 appointment. Key in hand, I stomped through the door to begin the inspection myself.

I glanced through the dim foyer, trying to locate the light switch. Despite the crystalline March afternoon outside, the sunshine failed to permeate the dusty windows. Maybe I'd find Tyrone upstairs. I hadn't seen his Toyota Camry on the street outside, but it couldn't hurt to check.

"Roxie, come here!" I stepped beyond the foyer, and a metallic stench filled my nostrils. "Jeez, if I have to clean this place from top to bottom, this is coming out of their security deposit."

The sound of my dog's barking led me to the rear of the house.

In the middle of the dining room, a man lay in a pool of blood.


  1. Well, you set this up pretty well. Two questions. One, if the house is being rented, why are the windows so dirty that the light can't penetrate -- maybe a quick aside about Tyrone's incompetence as a manager? Also, can there really be a "metallic" stench? Does metal have a smell. Other than that, nice opening.

  2. This has potential, but I'm not sure I'm hooked just yet. The first few lines seem unnecessary. Lots of "should have", like your character is looking back on something that's already happened. It tells me that something bad has happened, but at the same time, it takes away the suspense.

    You may want to consider (and this is only an opinion from someone you've never met who's never read your work before) jumping right in with your character entering the vacant house, and then stumbling upon the dead/dying man on the floor. I also have no idea if your narrator is male or female, though for some reason I'm wanting to guess female. No idea why, just the impression I'm getting.

    I'm seeing potential, but I think I just need to be pulled into the story faster.

  3. Totally hooked with the first two paragraphs but lost me at the stupid dog comment and that third paragraph. Picked up a little at the last two paragraphs. I might read on a bit farther to see how author deals with the death and who that is. I can guess though but would still want to see. Enjoyed the voice.

  4. I'm hooked! There's built-in suspense here (though I think you set the stage in that first sentence). Character's actions and dialogue are believeable. IMprove the sentence "The sound of my dog's barking" as it sounds too passive. Also, I think there's a bit of a sequencing problem -- in the first sentence, he already is commenting on the mess of the house he doesn't step into until paragraph 3? I would read on...

  5. This is an interesting entry and I'm almost hooked, but not quite, mainly because of craft issues.

    I'm a little concerned about authorial intrusion in spots like, "Where was my property manager, Tyrone Clermont?" Would she really think his name? Slip that in another way and leave his name off there.

    "Despite the crystalline March afternoon outside, the sunshine failed to permeate the dusty windows." Seems to come from a totally different voice. Too smooth and lyrical compared to the rest, which is kind of spunky and impatient.

    Work it a little more! :)

  6. Hooked.

    I would think though the dog would be part of the scenario of the discovered body, just knowing dogs.

    Good job.

  7. POV character sounds crabby, not horrified.
    Some words I don’t like in 1st person. “Labrador” – everyone says “Lab”.
    Locate – seems formal
    Permeate – who thinks in words like that?
    Toyota Camry – one or the other. People don’t say both.
    And the word metallic gives it away that it’s going to be blood.

    Not Hooked.

  8. Needs a bit of tightening, but I like the voice, am intrigued, and would keep reading.

  9. Mysteries almost always start with the discovery of a dead body so to stand out from the pack, you have to be distinctive with voice and character. This is solid but not quite grab-me fresh.

  10. I liked it, except for the Tyrone Clermont bit. As another commenter said, would the MC really think his name? (For some reason I'm picturing the MC as male, even though I usually imagine females.)

  11. I think with some tweaks you could have me hooked. You could sprinkle some of the information you give initially after she finds the body. Also, I wouldn't read about a MC that calls her dog, "Stupid".

  12. Hooked.
    Excellent voice. I liked the beginning paragraph and the ‘yowling dog’. That gave me the mental image and sound effects that draws me into a scene.

    My personal opinion says get rid of the name of the property manager in the third paragraph. It slows it down. ‘Property manager’ is enough at this point.

    Good scenes and good description.

    And good luck!

  13. I'm definitely curious as to who your MC has found in her rental house ... the tenant ... Tyrone (although since his car is missing, maybe not).

    I would actually start this at the second paragraph. The first, where your MC is complaining about getting involved seemed a little off to me. Wouldn't she be involved one way or another -- even if she hadn't gone to the property herself -- since a dead body just turned up there? I'd think her life would be a mess whether she was on vacation or not. She's the owner of the house. I would work in the vacation bit a little differently if it's crucial to the story.

    Good luck! (I like your title, too, BTW).