Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September Secret Agent #2

TITLE: A Mistake
GENRE: Adult mystery

Calpurnia Madison knows exactly where home is. She’s staring in that direction now, just to the right of the American flag on the Brooklyn tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, ignoring her client’s meandering explanations, excuses, and futile demands.

She’s heard it all before. Even for eight hundred and fifty dollars an hour, it’s difficult to pay attention to yet another criminal’s self-justification.

In her mind’s eye, Cal sees the pile of materials stashed in the second bedroom in her apartment. Paint, rollers, brushes, wallpaper. The crib folded up in the hall. The cloth organizer to be hung. The monitor to be installed.

In retrospect, she should have started maternity leave this week. At least it’s Thursday.

She’s decided she’s never coming back to the office. It’s a matter of when—and how—to inform Tom.

“Hey. Are you even listening to me?”

The man sitting across from Cal is named Clancy, after the Irish folk group, not the author. He is another hot-headed twenty-four-year-old investment banker who thinks the world owes him a worry-free life of money, sex and drugs, in no particular order. He wears fake glasses made of solid gold, a thick goatee, and no tie. Tendrils of a colorful tat climb his neck from under the collar. The aroma of Gucci Pour Homme follows him everywhere. He skated through Harvard, snagged a six-figure job, and has earned a bonus that triples his salary. But he snorted a line in the wrong place at the wrong time and now suddenly everything is his lawyer’s fault.


  1. I like the beginning but to really snag the reader, some clue of a crime should be hinted at right away.

  2. I agree with Writer Girl: I want a hint of the crime in the first few paragraphs. I guess I could be here, but I don't know enough yet. Paragraph two is bothering me. In terms of story it sounds like evidence to prove what you've already told us in the previous paragraph. I would avoid the list in the first paragraph and drive us directly to a specific detail that illustrates her state. If Clancy is going to be important, it will drive me crazy that it's "Cal" and "Clancy". So while I love the Clancy name description, the two names together are hard to differentiate.

  3. I like the fact that your MC is an obviously smart, successful and very pregnant woman, and I love the vision of her apartment you conjure up.

    I disagree with the commenter who said the crime needs to be hinted at in the first page. I think it's fine to get to know your MC first.

    Compared to close POV lines like "At least it's Thursday" (which I love), the paragraph starting "The man sitting across from Cal..." makes me feel a little distant from your MC, like an omniscient observer has taken over. Maybe you could bring it a little closer to your MC again?

    A nitpicky comment: I think you could remove the "She's decided" filter and just show what she has decided.

    Nice job. I'd read on.

  4. That's the thing, she's not pregnant anymore, right? And she's thinking about jumping off a bridge? Does anyone else read it this way?

  5. I didn't understand her to be thinking of jumping off a bridge. I thought she was looking forward to being on maternity leave - starting in two days.

  6. I don't see her thinking of jumping either. The description of the apartment works for me, things still need finishing (not in a past tense like something bad happened). I also like the description of her client and the crime revelation where it is placed. She's an attorney with a boohoo client. Love it. I'd read on.

  7. Ditto on the Cal/Clancy thing. I love the detail about Clancy's name but the two C's would drive me crazy as a reader.

    I like the set-up and the waay her mind is wandering off in this. It really lets me know where she's at mentally and clues me in to how she might act/react as a character. There's immediate conflict set-up without it being a car crash which is great.

    Nice work.

  8. Good job. Love the details you use to paint the world for the reader. While the main issue isn't at play yet, that's okay because I'm still drawn in by the writing. I am thinking a woman who is pregnant is going to solve a mystery? And she's that close to being due? So, again, you got me snagged.

  9. I'd read on, even though I'm not a fan of mysteries. I hesitated for a second when I read "The man sitting across from Cal is named..." since it was in a more distant POV than the rest of your beginning. Overall, I really love the detail and how it fits together to create an interesting world.

  10. I agree that the distant narrator's voice doesn't help. Perhaps consider writing it in close third?

    You might also flip the scenes around. Start with the Clancy situation, maybe give us some dialogue rather than telling it to us, to give us a feel for that situation, then have her mind wander off to home and the baby, that way you start with a hint of a problem, followed by a possible complication - her pregnancy.

  11. I read this as Calpurnia is looking out of her office (or her client's office), past the Brooklyn Bridge, toward her apartment. Be careful because it took me a few reads to come to this conclusion and I'm not really sure if I'm correct. Consider making the reader know exactly where home is (the scene).

    You have room to add specifics. To be more concrete. A "six figure" job doesn't tell us that much. And for a successful investment banker on Wall street, low six figures is probably not the going rate. SO when the bonus he earns triples his salary and earns him 1.5 million, I can get a better idea of who we are dealing with. Or is this a laggard client who is on the downswing. He went to Harvard but he's snorting too many lines. Just a little more detail will help inform the reader about the characters.

    I do like that the MC seems to be pregnant.

  12. This doesn't feel like a setup for a mystery to me. It's nicely written though. And I love a very pregnant lawyer dreaming of her maternity leave! The last paragraph was a bit much (kind of cliche), but very fixable.

  13. I liked the subtle conflict in the line about how to "inform Tom". Interesting character and situation.

  14. I love the name of your MC. That was the first think i focused on. I agree though, Cal and Clancy. If Clancy is not an important factor in the story, that is an easy change.

    I have to admit that it took me a minute to read through to realize that she was pregnant. My first impression was she was sad because she had lost the baby. I am not 100% sure, maybe because she seems sad and is daydreaming, why i got that first impression and reread it to get more details. That might be me!

    Good job though. I don't know anything about the mystery yet but the setting is clear and good way to introduce the MC.