Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Secret Agent #2

TITLE: Silver
GENRE: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Jallaian had been one of Halbrechta's most prominent policy-setting Venerables. Now she was just a corpse.

She had no marks on her skin. Her clothing was neat, without any rips or tears, and her silver hair remained securely fastened in its knot at the back of her neck.

“Poison, I'm guessing,” the coroner said, lifting an eyelid and examining the lifeless gaze. “She was too healthy to die without external causes.”

Alinda Joren frowned and strode around the table to have a look from the other side. “Are you sure it wasn't just old age? It's highly unlikely anyone could have slipped her poison without her knowing.”

The coroner raised her eyebrows. “She had precognition, then?”

“No. Telepathy. And telekinesis, and a reputation for using both with unsettling accuracy.” Alinda had done a brief bit of bleary-eyed research on the victim on her way to the station. “Early onset, too – forty-one or forty-two, I believe. Jallaian had plenty of time to hone her abilities.”


Alinda made a note in her logbook. “Any other theories, Miry?” She could have added, Any other reasons for summoning the Senior Inspector from her warm bed just before dawn?

“Not upon a quick initial look like this, Inspector. I'll let you know what further examinations reveal.”

“Good.” Alinda started for the door, then turned. “Oh, and I assume you realize - since it concerns a Venerable, it's better if we downplay the murder possibility until we have concrete evidence. I hope I can trust you to keep quiet."


  1. Interesting place to start. I like how you jumped right into a mystery.

    The first sentence itself was a bit of a name soup -- without knowing what Jallaian, Halbrechta, or Venerables were, I had to keep reading to even understand what the first sentence meant.

  2. I liked this very much except for the beginning. The first two sentences are telling not showing. Most of this info could be exchanged between the detective and the doctor during their conversation exchange.

    For instance, consider starting with doctor examining some part of the corpse and give the victims name. Start with action on either the doctor's part or the detective's. Pepper the victim's details in between the snatches of dialogue.

    The rest of it pulled me right in and I would definitely read more.

  3. I agree with the other comments that it flows well after the first sentence and I also think it's good to jump right in (something I could learn myself). You might try simply shifting the line that begins, "Poison, I'm guessing" to the first position. That would provide enough context that I'd be willing to forgive the name soup.

  4. I found the opening a bit jarring because from the first sentence, I thought Jallaian was going to be the viewpoint character. Aside from that, it's a good opening, I'm okay with waiting a bit for setting description.

  5. I agree with Lindsay, thinking Jallaian was going to be the MC, narrating after her death. Also agree with the name-soup assessment of the first line.

    But I do like the mystery set-up and the hint of paranormal abilities that will come into play in the book. However, from watching so much of The Closer and Rizzoli and Isles, would the coroner make a guess like that without any evidence?

  6. Good dialog and great way to open with a mystery.

    I'd recommend rearranging this scene a bit to make it clear who the MC is. Also, maybe tweak some of the descriptive sentences to be more showing than telling (for example, by having the MC take action gently touching a portion of the victim's clothing and gaining impressions from it.) Finally, if the MC is someone to be respected, perhaps the coroner should give her the honorific of Inspector sooner in the conversation. On first read, I'd thought the MC and coroner were equals or friends.
    I'd read on for a page or two more to see what happens next.

  7. The first line had me double-taking from all the proper nouns being thrown around, but after that I settled in and was hooked.

    I will definitely read more.

  8. I like how it starts with a mystery, but the first sentence was a mouthful. I would definitely read more though. I like how you added in bits about telekinesis, makes the reason for her death a lot more intriguing, and really hooked me. Would love to see what happens.

  9. I like this opening, it seems like a good place to start - I was pulled in, and I'd keep reading. The names 'Jallaian' and 'Halbrechta' threw me off at first because I had to struggle over how to pronounce them. I'm also not sure what to think about the coroner 'guessing' that it was poison. Unless it's a less technological society, then I'd have thought poison leaves traces most of the time? I've watched a lot of CSI ;) - even if that's not accurate, programs like that are pretty popular, and it did make me frown that the coroner wouldn't be sure.

    Overall, a good opening passage.

  10. I like how the first two paragraphs describe the victim. The revelations in the discussion make the genre clear right up front.

    Is Alinda the Senior Inspector, or is that a third character who is addressed in the next to last paragraph?

    I'm interested enough in the promise of this story to keep reading, but I could get overwhelmed and give up if there are many more names like Jallaian and Halbrechta. In fact, it's a pretty big obstacle you've set up for readers in the first sentence. You could probably create some other names that sound not-of-our-world without being quite as challenging. Alinda Joren is unusual, but not a speed bump. Miry isn't too tough, either.

    Good luck! This is intriguing.

  11. I thought you set the mystery up well. My only issue was that it's labeled sci Fi, they have futuristic names, but the conversation between the characters all sounds like a typical police procedural.

    Could you perhaps add something to make the autopsy and the conversation seem more futuristic? Wouldn't the coroner have some kind of futuristic skills and abilities or technology? Might they have a new way of determining cause of death? It just seems to need something to keep that sciFi/futuristic feel.


  12. This scene is interesting and well-handled, but feels like it comes later in a story. Is Alinda the protagonist? If so, her introduction is very breezy and doesn’t give the reader much of a connection to her.