Friday, November 30, 2012

(7) Cozy Mystery: Opelika Ladies Murder Society

TITLE: Opelika Ladies Murder Society
GENRE: Cozy Mystery

When the Alabama Azaleas book club decides to read only Agatha Christie novels for a year, townspeople start showing up dead, murdered the same nights as book club and in the exact same manner featured in the month’s selection. The women must work together to find the killer before the next murder takes place — even if that means implicating one of their own.

The Alabama Azaleas kept two rules sacrosanct: no spouses allowed at book club and members must make every meeting, except in instances of death, injury that required a visit to the ER, or natural disasters.

Annelle stooped to wipe up Pearl’s vomit with a wad of paper towels. That first rule mercifully saved her husband, Beau, from having to help clean up the mess brought on by discussion of this month’s book selection.

“I’m sorry for getting sick. I can’t even remember when we started reading such unladylike literature.” The diminutive Pearl looked like a doll propped up on the sofa. Her feet dangled inches from the floor when she leaned back into the sofa’s enveloping cushions.

“I don’t see what the fuss is all about,” Myrtle whined. “All I said is that the murderer was pretty clever to truss up the victim like a human turducken.”

“Shut up, Myrtle,” the Zay-Zays shouted in unison.

The Azaleas — Opelika’s oldest and most venerable book club — had long been fans of murder mysteries and thrillers, gobbling up the horrid details like pickle sandwiches and cheese straws. Tonight’s particularly gory selection pushed Pearl’s delicate sensibilities to the breaking — or rather, barfing — point. The murderer had stitched one victim’s pet hamster and rabbit in his body cavity similar to the deboned turkey-duck-chicken monstrosity some families served at Thanksgiving.

“You’re not alone, Pearl,” Annelle said. “It's time for a change.”

23 comments:

  1. What a great idea! I love your whole premise and concept for the mystery, and your characters are vivid. I really like the "only two rules" first sentence, but I think it could be slightly punchier--maybe by using a hyphen before "except"? Nice!

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  2. I like the meta quality of a murder mystery among murder mystery fans. Those kind of stories are always fun. The opening is good, though my own queasy stomach isn't fond of starting out with vomiting. It's certainly a striking beginning, though.

    I do have a few small suggestions. After "spouses allowed at book club" I would include a comma or semi-colon to separate it from the second rule more clearly. Also, you might be overusing specific dialog tags like "whined" and "shouted." Nine times out of ten, you're better off using "said" and letting the dialog itself indicate how it was spoken. Finally, I don't know that "diminutive" is really necessary to describe Pearl, since you already say she looks like a doll and her feet are dangling above the floor. Don't over-describe; trust your readers to intuit your meaning. Good luck!

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  3. I really liked the premise here. I would question the use of the word barf though. It didnt really seem to fit.
    Good luck!

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  4. It sounds like the author knows the cozy mystery market well; I can picture this on a bookshelf and I know the reader this targets.

    I agree about the comma @matril noted, and also about the dialogue tags. Usually if the dialogue itself is strong enough, you don't need to tell the reader how the character says it (like the whine, what she says implies whining). An exclamation would be appropriate here: "Shut up, Myrtle!" the Zay-Zay's shouted in unison. That tag works although if you wanted to push yourself you could rephrase and get rid of it, and we'd know they shouted based on the punctuation. By the way, I love "Zay-Zays" :)

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  5. I like this premise, though I’ve heard it before. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen it done well or even published, though. The author should do some research to see if there’s a comparable title out there and be aware of what he/she may be up against.

    This seems like a good jumping off point and set up for the group reading Agatha Christie (which would probably be a draw for any mystery reader). But I don’t know if the vomiting is necessary, to be honest. And the characters feel old to me in these few paragraphs, probably because of their names. If that’s intentional, good, but if Annelle isn’t a senior, then I would suggest including something to indicate her younger age. Be aware that there should also be one main sleuth—whose POV should be the majority if not the whole of the book—and the others can be sidekicks.

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  6. I absolutely love the premise in the logline here--totally intriguing!

    I did get tripped up on the first line--is there a way to streamline it so it flows better?

    The vomiting seems a really strong reaction to something being read. I could definitely envision that reaction to seeing the actual murder, but it seems over-the-top for just reading about the scene. Wouldn't Pearl maybe have just skipped reading that part or groaned in frustration instead?

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  7. I love this!
    Great logline and opening page. Very inventive ("turducken", pickle sandwiches and cheese straws juxtaposed with gore.)
    I'm fine with the use of barfing; I think it fits the tone of the narration, darkly humorous (?)

    My only suggestion is to use something like "delicate" instead of diminutive, to highlight Pearl's southern belle sensitivity. I think there's a reason you've got her front and center.

    One more thought--clarify whose husband Beau is. I stopped to figure out if he was Pearl's or Annelle's.

    Best of luck in the auction.

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  8. I enjoyed this. I got a great sense of the tone (as someone else mentioned, darkly humorous).

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  9. I liked the voice here and the narration feels very assured. The details are excellent - pickle sandwiches, cheese straws, and the actual explanation of the gory passage that gets compared to the turkducken. I have to admit though, the second paragraph needed a lot of read throughs for me. For some reason I first thought Pearl was a pet because you generally clean up pet barf with paper towels and people throw up into receptacles. I wasn't sure whose husband Beau was or why a person who was so sick was at the meeting (rules notwithstanding). So maybe some clarity is needed in that paragraph. I love the name 'The Azaleas'. And I did get the impression these were older women, maybe retirement age.

    Good luck!

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  10. I love the premise of this. I would like to know more of what age these people are. Are they older, which I agree they sound like; or are they more of the Desperate Housewife kind of women? In that case, maybe the one character isn't actually throwing up because of the scene, but b/c she's pregnant. Someone could ask her teasingly to hint at age range. Overall, I'm in. I like this. Good luck!

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  11. A life-long fan of Dame Christie, I love the concept of the story as presented in your log line (and bonus points for the alliteration :) "Annelle of the Alabama Azaleas reads Agatha all year")

    Overall I get the impression that this is a group of elderly ladies- Miss Marples in the making - but the narrative voice intrudes quite a bit and doesn't have the same tone. As a reader, this pulled me out of the story.

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  12. 120. You haven't earned the right to use my erotica pen name.

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  13. (claps). It's a bogus, impossible way to end it. A flaw in the bidding rules. There is literally no way to get in between two bids.

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  14. Hey, I agree, but I just got screwed by this bogus rule. Might as well adapt with the $@#! times, right?

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  15. BIDDING ON THIS ITEM IS NOW CLOSED.

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