Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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First page critiques

At Kill Zone Blog, PJ Parrish comments on the first pages of the Edgar Award nominees:

…But then I got to wondering, what are they like inside? How do these writers handle the openings of their stories? Just for fun, I thought we could take a peek here today.

The stories include a legal thriller with a tortured heroine who’s fighting the government and her own demons; an Irish thriller about a girl who falls for a convicted serial killer only to find out ten years later he’s not what he seemed; a fixer whose client is a big-time politician with secrets someone will murder to protect;  a cop-cum-PI who’s trying to find the man who framed him and cost him his badge; a resurrection of the iconic Philip Marlowe, now 72 and retired in LA; and a Victorian adventuress trying to unravel of web of intrigue at an Egyptian dig.

Personally, I don’t find most of these thumbnail descriptions all that enthralling, but that last one sounds pretty neat. Victorian adventuress trying to unravel a web of intrigue at an Egyptian dig? This is
A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn. Let’s take a look:

Hah, well, this particular book may be a little … what is the term I’m looking for? Mannered, perhaps. Overdone, for humorous effect, but I don’t necessarily find that kind of thing works well for me. I do think it’s clever, well done for the style, and would certainly work for many readers.

One thing to notice, I think, is that every novel opens with setting. There is a sense of place from the beginning. I don’t think that’s coincidence. Many workshop entries that I’ve seen essentially open in a white room. I don’t like all these openings myself, but I can see why they would appeal to judges — and to readers.

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2 Comments First page critiques

  1. Pete Mack

    That clip made me think: Lysistrata. “And frequently their proportions are exaggerated” … for comedic effect. Yes it is overdone. But it still is funny.

  2. Elaine T

    most of them didn’t interest me, one put me off, and this one reminded me of the Amelia Peabody series by Peters. The tone is similar. To be fair, a Victorian woman doing Egyptian excavation activities would have certain qualities and may difficult to sound different. Although Evelyn, the secondary woman in Peters’ managed to.

    Oh, it’s by Raybourn. I’ve read some others by her, she’s not bad.

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