Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mysteries For Danielle Svetcov #15

TITLE: Tourist Town
GENRE: Upmarket mystery

A pregnant homicide detective works her first big case, investigating the murder of a woman who recently gave birth.

I root through the coat closet for my soccer ball. In the confines of my tiny kitchen, I kick the ball. Left foot, right thigh bounce, right foot kick, left thigh bounce. The cat scampers from her post atop the stove.

The plan is my partner comes over any time now, and I calmly tell him I’m pregnant. We argue that yeah, it’s unbelievable because even though the air’s electric between us we only screwed that once two months ago. Maybe we have a conversation about which one of us will leave the police department. Then he goes home, and tomorrow comes.

The polyurethane ball swirls the green and brown stains from the field as it rotates. It’s already past 10 p.m., but across town they’ll have the stadium lights switched on for another hour. I could go there right now.

I lean forward, get my head in front of the ball to catch it between my shoulder blades.

If the plan’s so simple, why did I stash my weapon away in the lockbox like I might have some freak compulsion to use it?

I shake my head, and the soccer ball rolls off me, bounces against the oven door, writhes torturously on the floor, settles into a corner.

The doorbell buzzes. Heart racing, I jerk the apartment door open, and it’s so light, made from plywood and veneer – not up to fire code – that it slips from my grip, and bangs against the wall only to slam shut again immediately. I take a deep breath, exhale through my mouth. Open the door.


  1. MC sounds too complacent about being pregnant. Is she excited? Afraid? Angry? She must feel something.

    Don't see why a pregnant cop would take the chance of losing her baby by chasing a killer. Need more motivation for me to keep reading.

  2. Logline: This tells us the setting but not much else. I assume she wants to solve the murder. Will someone try to stop her or make it difficult? Will anything happen to her if she fails?

    Good luck!

  3. I like the writing, but the logline needs it's stakes raised.

  4. Agree on the log line comments - it clearly shows the base of the story without being confusing, but it needs to show the hook and the stakes for solving the case. Entice us! Good luck :)

  5. It's a bit of a confusing place to start. I get the impression of a cramped apartment - especially the kitchen - and to do what she is with a soccer ball takes space. I'm not sure it sets the scene well enough. She has an interesting job (homicide detective) and is in a life-altering state (pregnant) that has career implications both for her and her partner. Yet, all that is set aside so she can play with a soccer ball. I'm not sure it works. Also, the "only screwed once" line was jarring and a bit crude. Also, unless she is a 14 year old homicide detective, how is it "unbelievable" to an adult that she might be pregnant based on that encounter? The line about the gun was disturbing to me. She might be compelled to use it? on her partner? on herself? You kind of insert it casually like the first thing an adult thinks about when they become pregnant is killing her male friend or herself? And I'm like WhaaaaT?That's a bit far down the freak road for me so I'm not sure I want to go along with her as the narrator.

  6. The description and writing are strong. I am not sure if her anxiety comes from the fact of being pregnant or if there is some rule against fraternization in her department and that's why one of them may have to resign. In other case, I think her thoughts might be more on the fact of being pregnant than anything else. As was said earlier, how does she feel about that? Does she love her partner? Is she scared or happy? If she is thinking about her career then it might make her seem a bit callous. I likewise found the references to the gun to be strange - or at least, crying out for some explanation.

  7. I sort of liked that all her anxiety is coming out in the way she interacts with the soccer ball. I was, though, slightly confused about her connection to the sport. At first, I thought she must have played in school... but then the comment about going to the stadium to play made me wonder if she's former pro or something.

    The gun line felt really out of place... If things go wrong, she's just going to kill everybody? That makes her sound less anxious and more just... nuts.

    I felt very disconnected from the concept of her partner. At first, I thought "partner" but then understood you meant partner on the force. But he never gets a name and we never get any indication of their relationship or how she feels about him or what kind of guy he might be (as it stands, it sounds like he's a jerk and she hates him enough that she might shoot him...)

    For the logline, it needs more... When a pregnant detective investigates the murder of a new mother, she must [thing she has to do] before [bad thing that might happen]. And be specific.

  8. I liked the dichotomy the author presents between showing the detective's anxiety by the compulsive playing with the soccer ball and her internal declaration that she "calmly tell him I'm pregnant." I think this does a great job at showing that she's deluding herself that such an emotional event requiring the decision on who leaves the PD can be decided in a single sitting. That said, this is not an event that requires one or the other to leave. They would not be able to work together as partners, but both could keep their job administratively.

    The gun comment popped me and "screwed" makes their decision to get together sound too impersonal despite the "electric" air sparking between them.

    At some point, the department brass would offer her an administrative job (Pregnant women can't qualify on the range because of lead and noise issues that can hurt the fetus, mandatory protective equipment no longer fits, etc). How she gets around this probably needs to be hinted at in your logline--Unless your timeframe is short enough that pregnancy does not impact her ability to do the job.

  9. I thought the comment about the ball swirling and the green and brown field was rather confusing. It seems to me that the MC's thoughts are a little too erratic to follow in that second and third paragraph.

    I, too, didn't care for the "screwed" comment, and this woman's whole attitude toward her relationship is rather emotionless (except for the nervous part). Why doesn't she refer to her partner by name? If you hadn't mentioned she was police, I would immediately equate "partner" with a gay relationship, which would really confuse me.

    The writing isn't bad, but I think it could use a little more work.
    Good luck.

  10. I think the problem is you wanted to have the front part of the story be setup but you aso were aware of instead of having your MC sit and have a glass of wine and 'think' of her predicament you tried to get around it with a soccer ball. It is a very unusual thing to do and unless her soccer skills are instrumental to solving the mystery in the end then I think it probably does not work. The gun reference also made me think this might be an insane woman so I would be careful of that.

  11. This has promise. I am a little worried about the self-awareness factor and the potential abuse of first-person, but I'm intrigued enough to read on. You handle tension well, and though I get a little confused with some of the furniture moving (she's quite good with a soccer ball, freakishly so), I bobbed along on the storyline well enough to ignore my confusion and keep reading.

  12. The logline appealed to me at first reading -- simple, direct, hints at a good story. At first reading of the opening paragraphs, I immediately liked the play with the soccer ball, but reading through quickly was very confused. Why suddenly the stadium? Why the talk of hiding a weapon? Was she really afraid of killing her partner? Why would she want to? I liked the door scene at the end -- fit her state of anxiety. But I was dubious about the whole thing. However, I have kept coming back to this one and reading it again and again. It has an attraction therefore and I think it could turn into a good novel