Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mysteries For Danielle Svetcov #14

TITLE: Freedom and Magnolias
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense

CIA Agent Reese Trenton's life was simple—dodge bullets, make reports, stay alive—until almost being run down by Maggie Donovan, a woman who makes him consider a life without secrets. When a vengeful perp from Reese's past targets Maggie, he realizes the only way to keep her safe is to leave, but first, he must fight to keep her alive.

The gas pump icon on the instrument panel of Maggie Donovan's SUV flashed a bright red warning. Now what? She flicked the display panel with her finger. No change. How long did she have before she blocked a Chicago thoroughfare? Got arrested for creating a disturbance?

A small panic stirred her insides, churning into light pain. She didn't like cars, didn't like to drive, and didn't like traffic. The past few years, planes, taxis and the occasional rental car served her travel needs. Early this morning life had changed when she bought a brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee. Now, less than five hours later, she couldn't remember ever seeing one solitary gas station in her neighborhood.

For being mid-afternoon, the traffic on Michigan Avenue moved at a good clip. A gaggle of pedestrians packed the sidewalk with an occasional power walker pushing their way through the mass. Out of nowhere, a man catapulted from between cars parked at the curb. He grabbed over his shoulder for empty air, his legs stumbling over each other as he fell in front of her.

"Noooooooo!" She crushed the brake pedal to the floor bed. Her breath hitched inward with each jerky pump of the anti-lock brakes. Fingers vice-gripped the steering wheel as the screech of tires against pavement wrapped around her brain. She shut her eyes. Braced. Stopped. Exhaled.

Had she hit the man?

No thud. No scream. No dead body on top of her hood. Had to be a good sign. Right?


  1. Logline: "who makes him consider a life without secrets" does not make sense as we don't know that he has secrets or why her almost running him down would make him want to stop having them. The second line contradicts iteself a little. He can keep her alive if he leaves but he has to stay to keep her alive first?

    Good luck!

  2. Not sure why his leaving will stop the vengeful perp. Maybe a bit more here?

    catapulted seems too much here.
    What was he grabbing for?

    would like to see more of the MC here.

  3. Agree - the logline is confusing. He can keep her safe by leaving, but he has to save her first - that contradicts itself.

    To me, if the book is from Reese's point of view, then the book should start with something starring him, not Maggie.

  4. Ignoring for the moment the logline, I liked the excerpt because I found the humor in it to be refreshing. At least to me, it read like humor in that she doesn't like driving and is about to have the worst driving experience of anyone's life - mechanical warning signs, a guy falling in front of her car etc. Great stuff. I associate "perp" more with a policeman than a CIA agent so that, plus the 'dodging bullets' line makes me think this might have some problems. CIA agents are usually shadowing other agents, or government officials, or political persons of questionable loyalty and motivation - but not 'perps.' And they do all of this on foreign shores. They are probably never going to dodge a bullet in their careers. So, that makes me think this might have some logical and realistic problems to overcome. But, I did really like the excerpt itself.

  5. I agree that the logling has some inconsistencies. I don't get much out of the "life without secrets" line because I'm assuming it's a fancy way of saying that he's thinking about retiring to be with her... but as it stands, I don't know what secrets or how she makes him want to give them up. And it seems like the only way to keep her safe is to fight to keep her alive (his compulsion to leave is irrelevant to the story's actual goal/obstacle/solution).

    P2 of the narrative confused me a little. Her life changed when she bought a Jeep... but it seems like something would have happened to cause her to buy the Jeep and that's what actually changed her life.

    For some reason (maybe because I haven't had coffee yet), "power walker" made me think of elderly people with walkers. Unless this is a retirement community, you might just say jogger (I might think differently after I'm caffinated, though).

    I couldn't follow the line about him grabbing over his shoulder for empty air... What's he reaching for? It produced a really weird visual for me.

    POV nit: If her eyes are closed, she could tell there's no thud, no scream, but not for sure no body because that's something she'd have to see.

    I like the idea of a woman almost running down her love interest, especially a capable CIA agent. Good luck!

  6. The log line is a bit confusing. What are the secret's in Reese's life? They are not important to me if I don't know what they are. Also, the leaving part left me scratching my head. There was no forthcoming explanation.

    I really(!) like your excerpt. One thing wasn't convincing: "A small panic stirred her insides, churning into light pain." Why pain? Where pain? I'd chop the second half of that sentence. It's not needed.

    Overall: Awesome!

  7. The only think I liked about your logline was the mention of a romance. Other than that, I really, REALLY like this.
    Excellent opening. I would absolutely read on.
    Good job!

  8. Loved the opening and the "chance" meeting which means she almost runs over her future love interest. I did not get the visual of him grabbing for something. Not sure what that could be. I do agree that perps sounds more like police or FBI. CIA agents don't chase perps - they are intelligence gathererers who fly under the radar and are the most normal people. Think of that woman who was outed a few years ago - can't remember her name. Plume? Flame? CIA agents don't (are prohibited from) operating within the USA. That's the FBI's job.

  9. Not crazy about the summary. Just not my kinda story. The writing in the actual sample is better than the summary, until the end, when things get a bit overwrought, "vice-gripped," et. al.

  10. Confused by the logline from his POV, but the story starts in hers. Does the narrative stay with her or him, or both?