Monday, May 16, 2016

Are You Hooked? Adult Genre Fiction #18

TITLE: Death of a Spider
GENRE: Adult - Legal Thriller

A young lawyer appointed executor of a deceased fixer’s estate must find his hidden blackmail book and turn the tables on a Grand Rapids crime syndicate and a Detroit gangster that are willing to kill to get it.

I found out about the death of Harry Miles by text.

My ex-wife and I were squared off across a table at a diner on the east side of Grand Rapids off the Beltline. It wasn’t one of those hidden gem greasy spoons, but it was convenient, and we had never frequented it during our time together.  Neutral ground.  I was, in my humble estimation, winning our regular weekly argument about money when I received the text.  It threw me off my game.

“What is it?” she asked with a dose of actual concern when I didn’t respond to one of her barbs about my not being able to take care of the stuff I had promised to take care of.  She was right, of course, about the money being a problem, but that wasn’t really what she wanted to argue about.  She just couldn’t bring herself to argue about the other thing, and I didn’t want that, either.  So, money became the main point of contention.

I stared at the text.  It was from a blocked number.  I had only picked up the phone out of habit when it had buzzed.  That, and I knew that it would drive Michelle crazy.  The message from the unknown texter simply said, Harry Miles died today.  And then, as I watched it, trying to figure out what was going on, it buzzed again, and a new message popped up.  Just thought you should know…


  1. First, I happen to love the setting [as a born and bred Michigander:)]. The premise seems strong with lots of possibilities. The initial interaction works for me. Can't wait to see what the real problem is between the two, if not money. You offer several great questions in this opening (that need answerrs as the stroy progresses). Good luck.

  2. I like the non-linear structure of your first page. It definitely works, but be careful you don't overdo it. At this point I would continue reading because I get the sense you have the story well in hand.

  3. First, your logline is made of all the very best juicy things. After the dead fixer and blackmail book, I'd already be looking for reasons to one-click and start reading. Then you add turning tables on the criminal element, and the grabby-hands come out. Well-structured pacing of the reveals.

    The 250 has some really great hooks and excellent voice. Your opening line kicks off with a delicious bit of tension. I LOVE your opening line.

    My only suggestion would be tightening up, especially the middle, to get to the real intrigue. With the promise of a dead fixer in the pitch, then the opening line that tickles the reveal, the ex gets in the way a little. We'll care more about her and their issues later, but she might get lost or skimmed standing between a reader and a good seedy mystery.

    *Please, bear in mind, this is minor stuff. The difference between reading the whole sample before buying or clicking like a fiend on page one. That's where your premise/writing is.*

    In the first section, the details are excellent. I suspect they're giving a window into how our MC operates and negotiates. This bit could probably snip off before the part about being thrown off his game.

    Then, when Michelle asks him, "What is it?" the line about concern is aces up to the bit about the barb (the end kind of meanders a tad). That could be a great place for him to be thrown off his game, to give that bit punch and get right to the *dum-dum-daaaaaaah* dead fixer.

    That paragraph could possibly stand a tiny skosh of tightening, too, to get to the juicy stuff without delay. Something like:

    When the phone buzzed, I'd only picked it up out of habit. The message—from a blocked number—simply said, Harry Miles died today. As I stared at the screen, (something*), it buzzed again. Just thought you should know… [This add-on + line are hooking me so hard]

    The "something" is the feeling a really good character/setup moment is being missed with "what's going on", which is a little general in tone. You have the chance to tell the reader how the MC feels about the fixer, his death, and being anonymously texted about it. With the great voice and detail you've established, you could really bring it home on this paragraph and hook readers for the long haul.

    Excellent piece. Thanks for sharing it. I WANT TO READ THIS IMMEDIATELY.

    1. Thanks for such great and helpful comments! You are totally right about the missed opportunity with the "what's going on" line. I'll work on that...

    2. Thanks! I'm glad I was able to help. Your story needs to be a published book in my hands ASAP.

  4. The mysterious text messages have me intrigued. I'd read more!

  5. I don't read many mysteries, but your log line and first bit certainly are encouraging me to make an exception. A large part of the reason is because I think I'm going to like the hero and his relationship and struggles with his ex-wife. To me human relationships are more interesting than crime and mysteries. You've done a good job of getting information into the briefest hints. I'd ask for more.