Blood Lines

The mystery of writing … well, mysteries

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    Send email to kevin at kevinwayne dot net.
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    A rainy dawn breaks over a slum neighborhood in Washington, DC to reveal the brutally beaten body of a prominent judge. A few hours later, a suspect is arrested. But the judge’s daughter believes there are secrets that drove her father to his death, and she wants to know what they are. Clay Warner, a down-on-his-luck insurance investigator, is determined to discover the truth – and win back the love of his life. But he does not know how deep that truth lies buried, and how far some will go to make sure it’s never uncovered.
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Posted by Kevin on April 14, 2006

On a whim yesterday I stopped by the bookstore and picked out three "debut" novels by mystery writers: Whiskey Sour, by Konrath; A Cold Day in Paradise, by Hamilton; and Clean Cut, by Monsour. They are all relatively recent debuts by writers who have gone on to publish series. (Hamilton's the oldest, with a pub date of 1998 — which feels a lot more recent to me than I suppose it is.)

I'm not doing "market research" (see previous post) but rather wanted a little bit of inspiration from writers' other first works. I figure it doesn't hurt to be a little methodical in analyzing how they did what they did.

I read Konrath's book in a couple of hours. I've been reading his blog but hadn't read any of his books. It was one of those books that, if you stop to think about what's happening, you could spot cliche characters and events streaming at you from all sides. However, you don't have time to stop and think about what's happening — I couldn't put the damn thing down. Extremely effective at throwing one tense scene after another at the reader. Short chapters that keep you turning the page. And overall very enjoyable — I'm going to pick up the rest of his books.

Part of me feels like I shouldn't be reading mysteries while writing the draft. It can't be very good for self-esteem. (Konrath's book suddenly made my scenes feel very wordy, for example.) On the other hand, I've already decided that this is a "discovery" draft and it doesn't matter if it's any "good" or not. So I'm not going to let it get me down.

Hamilton's book, which garnered a lot of critical acclaim and awards, is next.


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