Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mysteries For Danielle Svetcov #18

TITLE: A Place to Live
GENRE: Mystery

A sixty-year old American woman has found her ideal attic apartment in Vienna, a perfect place to live, but her equanimity vanishes when a neighbor across the hall is found dead in her bathtub. An eccentric Viennese detective carries the search for the murderer across Vienna, then on to Berlin and back, while the American woman is trapped in the macabre events in her paradise.

The apartment was small, what the Viennese call a garçonniere, a bachelor apartment; this one was a divided attic room with sloping ceilings, a wood-burning tiled stove and a balcony. That was the real selling-point, a big balcony, big for the size of the garçonniere, with seven big planters in place of railings, like seven tiny gardens. Now, at the end of March, the daffodils in the planters were catching the sun and blowing, as they always did up here, in the wind. The house was very quiet on a Sunday morning. The house was usually quiet; the only disturbance was when the landlord, Herr Zimmermann, was shouting on the telephone, or yelling at his lady-friend, or playing his TV loudly—he was deaf and frequently forgot his hearing aids. He lived in the middle of the house, and he was surely the center of it. But apart from him, it was a very quiet house. On this particular Sunday, the peace of the house was shattered in a way no one expected in the residential district called Döbling, known locally as a “noble district,” the word “noble” nowadays having a mocking sound, used less by residents of the area than by those who could not afford to live there. And what turned up in that quiet house on that perfect Viennese spring morning was surely anything but noble.

Eleanor sat at the table in her window looking out at her daffodils.


  1. Nice setting details -- you ground us well in the location.

    I'd break this into two or three paragraphs, and consider interspersing the description with short snippets of action or character voice.

    It would be great to open with Eleanor, and then go back and give us the setting.

    I liked your last two sentences, and the contrast between them.

  2. Logline: I would remove "across the hall" as this confuses the sentence and the neighbor already implies that he lives close. Aside from that, it sounds like your book is about the detective, not the woman (unless she helps him with the entire investigation, in which case, you need to tell us why she would do this).

    Good luck!

  3. In the logline, the last line makes it sound like she has been killed. 'trapped in the macabre events in her paradise,' maybe don't say paradise. It makes me think she's been killed and is watching from the other side...

    I agree about breaking this block-o-text into a couple paragraphs.

    Also, in this one paragraph, here is a word count to pount out repeated use of words for her dwelling.

    Garconniere - 2
    Apartment - 2
    House - 6

    It's a lot of words for the same thing in one big paragraph, and it's unnecessary. Maybe condense a few of the lines describing the house.

  4. I love the descriptions, with one suggestion. I understood it was quiet early on, I didn't need to be reminded so often. I agree with poster above. Editing would make this an even better read.

    I'd read more.

  5. The logline started out well enough, but I don't know what the detective's connection is to the American woman or what her connection is to the murder (or apparently, the events that follow it).

    I agree with a lot of what's been said about the narrative. Break this into paragraphs and do some editing to streamline. There's too much in there about how quiet the house is and several sentences that can be combined to eliminate redundancies.

    In line with Christine's suggestions, I'd show Eleanor looking at her daffodils, first, then describe them and the balcony, lead back into the apartment description and then through the rest of the house and the neighborhood to the foreshadowing of the ignoble event about to happen.

    I did get a nice non-American feel, though, so the setting is coming through. I'm not getting much in the way of characterization for Eleanor, though, so if you can find a way to filter the setting descriptions through her perception so it tells something about her, that'd be even better.

  6. THe setting is wonderful -- but some active language could move things along.

    Do a "find and replace" for the words 'was' and 'were' and you'll recognize the passive writing.

    I think the idea of starting with Eleanor looking at the daffodils.

    I'd read on to see where this interesting story goes.

  7. Very enjoyable and I'm sure I would read on. I found the punctuation reminiscent of "Jane Eyre". Maybe too difficult for readers in this age of short attention spans, but it put me in the same mood as sitting down with a classic. Much is expected from one of these books and I'm sure the authoress of #18 has done her best to deliver quality. The beginning promises a reward.

  8. This has promise; I was immediately intrigued by the summary (I was certain you'd say that the woman and detective would fall in love, but it doesn't appear to be in your plan...). But I think the writing is a bit choppy; and I'm not sure you're going to handle the balance of scene and narrative. I'm a word economist and this needs a line edit and perhaps some sentence cuts and rearrangement, too.

  9. Logline: For the most part I liked the logline. Try to condense a bit. Also you mention Vienna twice and Viennese once in the two sentences.

    This is an interesting start in that it's not fast, but it's also not "cozy". I'm not exactly sure what to expect as far as intensity of the book. This paragraph needs to be broken up. Also, a lot of the sentences need to be broken. Instead of so many commas and semi-colons, write in a complete sentence or condense. If this is from Eleanor's POV, then why are you "telling" us so much before we get to Eleanor?

    Keep writing the story, I like the premise.