Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Secret Agent #21

TITLE: Uncovered
GENRE: YA Mystery

There was minimal blood spatter on the black and white checkered floor. Mainly, small spherical droplets. My hands trembled as I removed the ruler from my new black case. The numbered evidence markers outlined a crimson polka dot path. Squatting down, I held out the ruler and it landed with a loud ping as the steel hit the tile. All eyes darted toward me and I shrugged an ‘I’m sorry.’

Everyone resumed their tasks, except for Minerva. She rolled her eyes at me which was miraculous considering the spider leg eyelashes she wore. I gave her a country club smile, then refocused on the blood spatter.

I picked up my ruler and measured the diameter of several drops. Average was 6 mm. Low velocity. She could still be alive.

“Clear,” Shock , Silence.- “Sorry for your loss, Miss.”

I shook my head, trying to clear the memory. This was different. Low velocity meant small force of impact. These types of droplets were caused by someone dripping blood not by a blow or gunshot. Or by knife wounds. They could belong to the missing ice cream girl or if we were lucky, the kidnapper. Texas state crime lab would have to sort that out and it would take forever.

I documented the results in my evidence log. My handwriting was shaky but legible enough for my team.

It’s not her, this is different. This girl may still be alive. There’s hope.

I blew out the fear in one big breathe, and got back to work.


  1. I'm a big fan of CSI and all things crime-techy, so I enjoyed reading this. However, I'm not sure how this is YA. If your MC is old enough to be a crime scene tech, then she's probably not under 18 and still in high school. Unless this turns out to be a fakeout and she's actually in a Crime Scene Club or something.

    Good luck.

  2. I'm not much of a crime/thriller reader but I enjoyed this! Love the exchange b/t the girls and the "country club smile" and "spider leg eyelashes." I get a sense the MC is calm, sharp, patient, and funny.

    Like K Callard, I did also wonder about the MC's age.

    Couple of other things -- the description of the blood drops and then the "payoff" in terms of the MC's realizing/telling us what they indicate seemed a bit drawn out to me. That's b/c my very first thought on reading about splatter being spherical was confusion. Like the MC, I thought that the force of liquid that actually splatters wouldn't create round drops. I'm no crime scene tech, but as a reader the attention to such detail about the drops slowed this things down for me.

    Also, if it seems the victim is still alive, that there's hope, as you say, why wouldn't the MC shout out for help rather than just get back to work? This coupled with the italicized section prior was a little confusing. The victim's next-of-kin was there too? Were the police informing the next-of-kin? Wouldn't there be more shrieking/chaos/panic?

    I think you can probably solve this by moving things around, explaining a little more where in the time frame of things (crime, body, techs arriving) we are.

    Hope this helps!

  3. This sounds like adult fiction, not YA. Would a young person really be an experienced detective?

    o The first sentence is good. It immediately tells me I am going to read a murder mystery.

    o I have no idea what a "country club smile" means. Snooty?

    o "Spider leg eyelashes"? On a detective?

    o If the victim could still be alive, wouldn't this person say so out loud rather than simply thinking it?

    o "Clear," Shock etc. I don't understand the first part of this at all. The second part, "Sorry for you...etc", was this something someone said to her, or something she said to someone else on a prior murder?

    This simply doesn't sound genuine.

  4. I didn't quite get the idea of where this was taking place, and who "everyone" was in that context. I read this twice and can't escape that I'm missing something vital; who is your character, where is she, why is she here? If this is YA I imagined a school setting, like she's learning how to analzye blood spatter rather than working as a pro since that seems far-fetched for a teen. This seems more like a scene that might take place further down the page. Maybe backing up and working in some basics would help ground this scene a bit.

  5. I liked this, especially the way you interwove what happened in the MC's past with the present, so we don't get bogged down in backstory. It also creates a second mystery. And clearly, there is no body. You say the girl is missing, and the blood could be hers or her kidnapper's, implying this was where the girl was taken from.

    But this also is clearly not YA. Perhaps it'll be told in multiple POV's and we'll get the ice cream girl's pov next?

    I did wonder about Minerva's spider leg eyelashes. It's a nice bit of description, but how would they stop her from rolling her eyes? And a country-club smile is something an adult would come up with, rather than a teen, I think.
    And breathe should be breath.

    I think it's a good start and it works as an adult novel. I'd read more.

  6. I love mysteries and forensics so this passage intriqued me. I don't have problem with a teen studying forensics-my daughter is 16 and taking forensics in school. There are STEM camps & programs to entice girls into science.

    I agree with Stephsco about adding in a few setting details to help anchor the reader in the scene.

    I got that she was flashing back to something else that happened to her and that the girl's who blood they were examining was kidnapped so she's not on site.

    There are a few complex wordy adjectives that can be pared down b/c they are distracting, and I would pause to visualize them.

  7. I like this overall, but like others, I found myself confused in places. I realize this is only the first page, or so, and a lot of questions could be answered in the very next paragraph, but some of the questions mentioned above tripped me up a little, as well. I think the first paragraph would work better if your MC is going through a mental checklist and almost talking to herself about what things mean, rather than bogging us down in the details with her. Because the information about the blood droplets doesn't mean much to the rest of us, I think you could pare it down a bit to continue the narrative and up the tension.

    I had to read the " 'Clear,' Shock, Silence..." line twice before i realized what was happening. I'd try to clarify that just a little and add a detail or two - "Clear," the doctor says - something even that small, and then even a hint of the despair she felt at hearing those words.

    This is an interesting opening and, while I'm trying to figure out if this is the MC and, if so, how it's YA, I feel like those questions would be answered soon, and I'd want to read on to get said answers. :)

    Good luck!

  8. I'm interested in teens studying forensics, but you need to make this more clear from the outset. It reads more like an actual, recent crime scene, which makes it implausible as a YA MC. It would be fascinating if, later in the book, MC does have to examine a crime scene, though.

  9. I love your writing. It has an immediacy that drew me in, and it maintains a balance between clean and descriptive. I'll add to the chorus of "this can't possibly be YA." I checked the genre label three times, just to make sure I wasn't crazy. I'm guessing there is something in your hook and/or in the next few paragraphs that explains how this scene/set-up works within the context of a YA novel. I'm certainly curious!

  10. Loved it. I'm a big CSI fan and would definitely read more. I guess the YA aspect will come in the next scene or won't it? In that case you might want to relabel the genre.

  11. Your opening gave me a strong Dexter/CSI vibe, and your attention to detail is impressive. My main quibble is that it’s a big stretch for a teenager to be involved with a forensics team. It would be helpful to get a line of context that explains her situation. If she is some sort of super smart teenager (like a Doogie Howser figure) who works for the police, how does she then relate to others on the team? We don’t get a lot of dialogue here, but perhaps she can talk out some of her findings with her colleagues. We need more info about who this unique character is and how she thinks.

    I would also recommend delaying the big reveal. It would be interesting to see your main character run through the evidence and puzzle things out a bit before realizing the victim is still alive.