Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Secret Agent #35

TITLE: Con Me Once
GENRE: Adult commercial action-adventure

Raunch sat on the edge of the pool with his foot on the drowning man’s back and wondered if he had time for a smoke. Turns out you really can drown someone in three feet of water­—if you knock him out first.

He thought it would be more difficult. Not the physical punch—he was as tough as they come, if he dared say so himself—but the emotional wallop. Despite an extensive criminal record for a variety of minor offenses, he’d never whacked anyone before, and he expected a rush of fear or horror or…something. Instead, he felt numb. The way he saw it, if the mob wanted this poor guy dead, he wasn’t a stellar citizen to begin with, and when you’re hungry and months behind on the rent, well, the truth is, money makes a great anesthetic.

The neighbor’s hound dog howled a warning. Raunch jerked, splashing water over the top of his grungy canvas sneaker. He cursed under his breath and scrambled to his feet. The scraggly brown hedge separating the two suburban houses rustled. The darkness, interrupted only by the dim glow of a dozen solar lights tracing the kidney-shaped outline of the pool, obscured the source.

The rustling grew louder, more violent. Raunch tapped the cigarette back in its pack and pulled out his gun instead. Tonight had been easy so far—too easy. He should’ve known better. It looked like things were about to change.


  1. I love novels that deal with the mob and this one reeled me in for sure. Obviously Raunch is down and out and needed the money desperately if he was willing to kill someone, especially since his previous offenses were minor in comparison. I want to know how Raunch got to this low place in his life and how he ever got involved with the mob as well.
    Good job.

  2. So much to love here! Crime/ mob stories are not my wheelhouse at all, but you managed to catch my attention and leave me wanting to read more despite that. It’s Raunch’s voice, I think, that does the trick. He’s witty and inviting, and I feel for the guy even though he’s, you know, committing murder.

    One super minor line-level note: I stumbled over the echo in “hound dog howled”, maybe cut “hound” to smooth?

    Poor Raunch. I hope he gets out okay :)

  3. This is a opening for an action-adventure novel. Mob stories are the rage in fiction. You have great descriptions and nice lines of action here. You've held my attention with this nice flow of narration.

    Minor nits: watch out for passive words like felt/saw/heard and filters like thought/wondered. These words can easily be removed and making your writing stronger and tighter. Show more than to tell and have him wonder as a question or a thought, though try not to have thoughts in opening hook and move it toward later. Great start.

  4. First, I love the title!

    I think this is well written. I was prepared not to like Raunch because what he was doing was so despicable, but, I found myself rooting for him. I think it's because we see his inner motivations and we can rationalize along with him lol.

  5. Try to pick a clear genre. Think of it in terms of where you would find it on the bookshelves at Barnes & Noble. A reader goes into a bookshop and tells them, I’m looking for a… mystery, romance, legal thriller, bookclub fiction, etc. It will make you appear more professional to have a realistic, well-researched genre.
    He cannot be named Raunch.
    Remove “if he dared say so himself.”
    The line about money makes a great anesthetic is very good.
    He’s sitting beside a pool with his foot on a man’s back, so wouldn’t his shoes already be wet?
    If the man is in a swimming pool (you don’t say “swimming” but kidney shaped in the back of a suburban house would have to be swimming), how is it only three feet of water?
    All in all though it’s a very solid start!

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