Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March Secret Agent Contest #27

TITLE: DEVASTATION: a Toronto Island Mystery
GENRE: Adult Mystery

June 1968

     Policewoman Christine Marsh reached for the passenger door handle of her police vehicle as she watched the two boats beeline a collision course to Ward’s Island Dock. The ferry's horn bellowed as it plowed through the lake, frothing water curling away from its prow. The eight-person water taxi raced the ferry from the periphery, peppering the air with its staccato horn.

     “Stop the car!” yelled Christine to her sergeant behind the wheel.

     Sgt Bard slammed his heel into the brake pedal. The Bronco jerked to a halt in a spray of gravel stones two hundred feet south of the dock.

     “They’re going to crash!” She shouldered the car door open, not waiting for her sergeant to ease his portly body out of the vehicle, and hurtled across the grass toward the ferry dock, hiking her skirt higher so she could run faster, her police-issue purse bouncing against her hip.

     She thumped onto the wide wooden dock. “Slow down!” she shouted, waving her hands above her head to get the attention of the ferry captain.

     Taking his eyes off the other boat, the captain spotted her, and slowed down fractionally.

     The water taxi emitted a jubilant beep as it cut in front of the bigger boat and steered toward the side dock allocated for small watercraft.

     Christine staggered as the ferry butted the row of tires lining the dock, its engines churning in reverse as its wake slopped over the worn rubber treads.

     These boat drivers were crazy! They had passengers on board, for goodness sake.


  1. I like the opening and could suggest several ways to tighten this, but as a lifelong sailor I just don't find the details and pacing credible. Why would the ferry captain wait for a policewoman on shore to tell him to slow down if he (or she) already sees the water taxi? That takes me out of what could be a very fun story.

  2. Thanks Carol.Christine realizes on the next page that the two watercraft were racing, as they often have done for the past ten years, just for pure, wacky fun. It's her introduction to the eccentric Island way of life on her first week of patrol.Needless to say, the Islanders will drive her a bit crazy, but she will grow to love them and her job on Island patrol.

  3. I liked the details in description of Christine's clothing...her skirt/purse, and I liked her powerful spirit. I know these things are small but they made me like Christine already. I agree that it's a bit hard to believe that a person on 'land' could stop a big boat...Alas, if you added more inner thoughts (is that what the last line in italics is?) from Christine and moved some of the action down, maybe the focus would shift a bit from the action to Christine's REaction to it? I'd be interested to know more about her and why she's so heated about the boats. Also, go Toronto!

  4. I liked the setting and opening scene. As Vanessa pointed out, I felt the character description of the MC was done well -- her personality stood out, but maybe a bit of physical description might complete the picture. I'm also hoping the time period was researched and will be shown later in the book. What was posted is good. It's original and a nice start to a mystery.

  5. The writing here is great, but this feels like a bit of a problematic start to a mystery. There’s no dead body, no crime, rather a police woman who helps two boats avoid a collision by waving her arms from the dock (not something easily noticed over the roar of boat engines). Is this about setting up the character of Christine Marsh as someone who is observant and intuitive? Make sure we’re not taking too much time to get to the mystery here.

  6. Thanks for the comment. The two boats are purposely racing each other to see who gets to the dock first...I guess that wasn't clear. She's not rescuing them as much as she is trying to stop them and charge them with reckless driving. Her sergeant and the sailors end up laughing at her...and that is
    her introduction to Island patrol.