Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Secret Agent #38

TITLE: The Measure of Angels
GENRE: Paranormal Romantic Suspense

Night had always been a time of dread for me so dusk did nothing to improve Red Hook's ambience. The neighborhood looked as dirty and run down in the dark as it did in full sunlight. Those few moments between day and night, when the light failed and night suffocated the landscape of color, had always been a time that separated comfort and safety from fear and danger.

I shivered on the front step of the Foster Building, my gut telling me this wasn't a great place for a woman at this time of day but at least there was parking. A lone black sedan idled at the curb, a man inside reading a newspaper. In the alley across the street, a cook in a stained apron leaned against the wall and smoked a cigarette.

The building was even less impressive than the neighborhood. Located a few blocks from Gowanus Bay, the old brick office building huddled between an empty lot and an abandoned warehouse, its worn facade overlooking a street littered with trash and old newspapers.

My dissertation advisor warned me that the Special Cases Unit worked under completely different regulations than the main FBI.

"Things might seem strange to you at first," he said when encouraging me to accept the job offer. "Keep an open mind."

No doorbell, no intercom, no card reader. Any security cameras were well-hidden. The Special Cases Unit was either really clandestine or completely unimportant.

Given the neighborhood, I figured it was the latter rather than the former.


  1. This is interesting. I think if you put more about "why" she's so afraid of the dark, specifically, it might make the scene stronger. I understand that it's a creepy neighborhood, but is there something that makes creepier than the norm? But I do like the fact that she's working for Special Cases and seems to think they're unimportant instead of clandestine. I'm guessing she's going to find out she's dead wrong? :) Getting into that scene quicker, the one where she's shocked out of her socks, might be something to think about. Anyway, I love this kind of story and would probably read more.
    Ninja Girl

  2. Interesting. many questions roll around in my mind. I like stories that don't just hit you with the first sentence, but each progressive sentence entices you to keep going.

  3. I loved how she was afraid of the dark. Wanted more on that!

    I think there are too many descriptions that take away from the intensity of the moment.

    Is this YA? Felt older to me. But I thought all entries were YA or MG. Excuse me if I'm mistaken, which I am often. :)

    Good job!

  4. The name "Red Hook" threw me at the start, since it's the name of a brewery in my part of the country. And I'm sorry, but the line " but at least there was parking" made me laugh out loud. It made it sound like a comedy.

    I think if you cut the first two sentences and also the sentence about the cook, you could have a tense opening. You have a good eye for visual detail, and that could be a strong point going forward.

  5. I think this is a really nice start. But this line, though lovely seems to drag the first para on: "Those few moments between day and night, when the light failed and night suffocated the landscape of color, had always been a time that separated comfort and safety from fear and danger."

    I'd delete or find another place for it.

  6. Once I got to the part about your MC's job and what she would be doing, I got more involved with her story. The introduction of your character's fear of the dark is interesting but not yet compelling. I'm assuming we'll find out those reasons as we read on (though it draws comparisons to "The Silence of the Lambs" for me).

    Here's a suggestion I have for the first sentence(s):
    I've always dreaded nighttime, so standing outside in this run-down neighborhood as dusk rolled in did nothing to comfort me. The town of Red Hook looked as dirty and run down in the dark as it did in full sunlight.

    Just a thought...

    Other than that, you show good attention to detail and provide just enough information to get us asking more questions. I'd read on.

    Good luck!

  7. I like the idea, but think it needs to be tightened up quite a lot. I understand that you're trying to build a sense of foreboding by describing the surroundings, but one or two good sentences can do that better than three paragraphs.

    Also, be careful of introducing characters (like the dissertation advisor) who aren't necessary to the plot so early on. If he's in the first few paragraphs of the book, I expect him to be a main character.

  8. I thought you spent too much time on the neighborhood. Is it important? Will it play a major role in the story? If not, if you just want to give a sense of where special cases is located, give us a line or two and move on. All the interesting things(her fear of the dark, the special cases unit) are overshadowed by the description of the neighborhood.

    I'm thinking you should start with her ringing the doorbell. I'm betting that what happens inside is much more interesting than that neighborhood.