Friday, November 30, 2012

(5) Mystery: Desired to Death

TITLE: Desired to Death
GENRE: Mystery

When Maggie True’s ex-best-friend is arrested for the lurid murder of her hot young lover, “Tattoo Boy,” the now-empty nester puts her intuition to work as a sleuth and uncovers a seamy underworld far from her typical mom routine.

“I didn’t kill him.”

Maggie sat up in bed, the phone to her ear, her heart pounding—terrified her worst fear was coming true.

“I loved him, why would I kill him?” She sounded breathless.

“What? Who is this? Cara?”

“Of course it’s me. Who else would it be? Someone put a gun to his head and blew his brains out…his gorgeous face covered in kisses...”

“Whose face?”

“Look. You’ve just got to come. I can’t stay here. They let me have just... one call and…it’s you.”

“Me? Why me?”

“I told you. These idiots. They said I did it…killed him…” Cara said something else, actually sobbed something, garbled and incoherent.

Then the phone went dead, leaving Maggie staring into the darkness.

Maggie True hadn’t spoken to her ex-best-friend in over six months. But Maggie had been waiting for a call like this, knowing—absolutely certain—she was about to get bad news. Her husband Joe called it her mom radar. Still, when the ringing phone woke her she expected it to be her daughter Jessie who left for college three weeks earlier. Who else would call in the middle of the night?

After several seconds of flat panic while she roused Joe from a snore that would raise the dead so he could hand her the phone, it wasn’t Jessie or her son Hank either. It was Cara Pierson calling from the Halfway Bay Police Station—from jail.


  1. This is an interesting concept, I like the middle-aged heroine. I have to say, though, I couldn't follow who was speaking throughout the excerpt. It could use some more dialogue tags.

  2. Huh. I'm sorta speechless. But, in a good way, I think. I didn't have a problem with the dialog - it seemed like it flowed pretty nicely. I don't read many mysteries, and I know they start with deaths a lot, but since I don't read them, I find it shocking...again, in a good way.

    I'm not a huge fan of the "mom radar" thing, just because it's used so close to her friend calling - that makes it feel a little untrue, or something.

    Anyway, I'd keep reading for curiosity's sake if there were more to read. Best of luck!

  3. Hmm, I'm intrigued by the concept and the logline. I didn't love the excerpt as much as I wanted to - it was too heavy on dialogue, and to me, some of her friend's words sounded forced: "his gorgeous face covered in kisses" - would you really say something like that on your one phone call from jail?

    Good luck!

  4. This is a good start to a traditional (“cozy”) mystery. I usually look for the amateur sleuth to have a personal connection to the case, a reason to get involved, and clearing a friend is a tried and true motivation. I wonder if there’s more of a hook to this series (it needs to be a series) to identify it. If so, that should be in the logline or included as a subtitle. The only small critique I have is that the end of the sample is redundant as we already know who called and we could surmise where from.

  5. This intro left me confused as to who was talking and what was going on. I figured it out about halfway through, but it might be a good idea to clarify, maybe start with the phone ringing and Maggie's heart racing as she worried her daughter was calling with bad news.

    It's tempting to start the first line with big action, but if the reader doesn't have any emotional connection to the character (even just a paragraph or two) then it's hard to connect. I'd feel more for Maggie when the conversation starts if I knew something about her.

    And I love the idea of an older heroine--a really cool idea that hasn't been done a million times!

  6. I like your concept, and how your MC is drawn into the problem to be solved.

    I think your dialogue is on point, but I'd play around with the order of what you've written, such as opening with her trying to rouse Joe. While the phone is ringing, she'd panic that it was one of her kids. Then, the dialogue where she's confused.

    I'd definitely want to read on to see how this all unfolds.

  7. Like others here, I was confused by the unattributed dialogue. Also, reading the logline right before the excerpt confused me even more.
    "When Maggie True’s ex-best-friend is arrested for the lurid murder of her hot young lover..."
    With the EX-best-friend, I was thinking that the HER of "HER hot young lover" was Maggie herself. (As in, her ex-best-friend is an ex because he/she tried to break Maggie and Tattoo Boy up/steal him/etc.)

    So I read through the whole thing being confused about the dialogue and whether Maggie was cheating on her loud-snoring husband with this now-dead hottie. LOL!

    I might be the only one with that problem, however, and normally we wouldn't read the logline right before the excerpt, so I wouldn't call that a problem. It did make the dialogue issue that others mentioned here stand out as even more confusing though. :)

    All that said, this seems like a great start for a cozy mystery premise. Good luck!

  8. I second all the people who suggested opening at a different point in your novel. I really like the idea of getting in Maggie's head first, with her fretting over who is calling at such a late hour, and then beginning the phone call. The lack of dialogue tags left me a little confused as to who was talking and who was in jail. That being said, I do think there's alot of potential here and I already like the main character for the simple reason that she's a mother. I love stories about mothers. And her husband snores. I can relate to that. Anytime I can relate to the POV character, I want to read on.

  9. Oh boy. I like the concept a lot, but like the others I was confused about who was the ex. This made the last paragraph very confusing for me. Also, the last paragraph is probably the clunkiest here - 'roused Joe from a snore that would raise the dead' - feels almost like a double negative of sorts. And at this point Maggie doesn't know Cara is calling from the Halfway Bay Police Station (love the name actually), so how can the reader know it?

    Like I said though, I like it anyway and my suggestion would be to not use 'ex-best-friend' to describe Cara. It feels very teenage of an expression. And finally, in the logline, instead of 'now-empty nester', it should be 'now empty-nester'.

    Good luck!