Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #94



In REMINGTONS KILL PEOPLE, Mercy and Justice Givens, twin sisters and co-owners of the Givens Detective Agency, are in serious trouble. The private detective business is having a dry spell, taxes are due in three days, and their bank balance is lower than a rattlesnake’s belly. Their only case, proving drug-addled debutante Genevieve Simmons didn’t stab her boyfriend, seems hopeless. Just before they’re forced to borrow money from their Aunt Irene to pay their taxes (again), an “easy” case to find an amateur embezzler provides a stay of execution.

Their hopes of a quick fee are crushed when someone parks a forklift on an accounting clerk’s head and dumps the body in the back of their truck, implicating them in murder. The twins ignore the warning, and the next body is hung in the handicap stall, right where Mercy, a paraplegic, is sure to find it. Now Mercy’s big brain better work overtime to find the murderer before Justice is the third casualty of the frantic murder spree.

The real problem is that Mercy and Justice don’t know that the killer isn’t the one who really wants them dead. Genevieve’s been framed, and the framer's hell-bent on making sure Justice and Mercy stay out of the picture. The twins aren’t used to being double-teamed, and Mercy’s genius plus Justice’s thirty-eight may not be enough to survive a Machiavellian murderer pairing up with a panicky killer.  

First 150 Words

The Givens Detective Agency does not handle murder cases. Therefore if a millionaire calls at two a.m. because his daughter is suspected of murder, the Givens Detective Agency answering service, which is to say me, will politely decline and go back to sleep. Neither murder cases nor millionaires pay promptly.  But when the bank balance has been hovering around two digits for a month, taxes are due in three days, and he promises to have his personal assistant standing outside the police station with a check for a sizeable retainer, I'll get my ass out of bed.

Texas Senator Bob Simmons, independently wealthy gentleman rancher with a herd of oil wells instead of livestock, swore he'd pay us whatever we thought was fair to prove his only child, Genevieve Simmons, didn’t kill her boyfriend Tyler Roxton at the Last Dance nightclub. It sounded like easy money from a panicked father, so I'd gotten dressed and sailed out the door with a smile.


Leslie Karst said...

Query: Delete the first four words and start with "Mercy and Justice..." for a punchier beginning (you can put the name of the book a little later in the query). I'd also shorten and tighten the query up a bit--maybe delete the sentence about the aunt (we already know the twins need money). Also, why would Justice be the third casualty and not Mercy? The last para. was a bit confusing for me--I had to re-read it to understand. But I love the premise, and your writing style grabbed me right away--the rattlesnake image and parking a forklift on the clerk's head are terrific.

1st 150 words: Love the first para! Tight, and grabbed my attention immediately. And it sets the tone--funny and smart. Maybe say "the millionaire" instead of "he" in the last sentence? As for the second para., maybe delete "instead of livestock," since the reader gets the joke without it? And is he a rancher if he has wells and not livestock? I would buy the book based on this beginning. Good luck!

Emily said...

I really like the voice in this. It sounds like fun. The girls' names are great and so is the premise.

I agree with Leslie about deleting the first four words of the query to make it stronger. I also agree with her comment about why would it be Justice and not Mercy who might die?

The first 150 drew me in right away.

Best of luck!

Michael McDuffee said...

I really dig this query and this beginning.

That being said, I absolutely echo what Leslie said. Start with 'Mercy and Justice..." and it's almost perfect. The only reason I say 'almost' is that I started to get lost with a whole lot of murders in a very short span in the query. I definitely got the feel of action and wanted to read quickly because of it, but my mind was still sort of in "wait, who else got murdered... and the forklift guy, was that related to... crap, and the girl who may or may not have stabbed... oh, and she's paraplegic?"

My only suggestion is not to slow the pace, but to put the murders together or just omit one. I almost feel like the one in the handicap stall was put there just to let the agent know that Mercy is paraplegic. I think omitting a few plot points may help streamline things.

Anyhow, well done.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the premise and loved the first 150 words. I agree that perhaps you should take out the words "instead of livestock" because we get that and the intended joke.

As for the query, I got kind of lost in the last two paragraphs. Why is Justice the target and not Mercy? If the body was hung in the stall it seems Mercy was the target? The phrase "Mercy's big brain" also gave me pause, but then I see in the last sentece she's the brains of the operation but we don't know that then.

Unknown said...

I agree with the other comments. Your query is pretty good and your book sounds interesting, but I do think you could get rid of some points that are unnecessary. I think the sentence about the aunt could be left out. I'm a little confused by your use of the words "Their hopes of a quick fee", also I'm not so sure you need to mention that Mercy is a paraplegic, and why would justice be next and how would mercy know that? in your third paragraph, I'm left wondering if someone does want them dead becuase you say it isn't the killer that does. maybe it's just me but I didn't clue in right away with "Justice's thirty-eight" I thought maybe it was referring to her age, you might want to clarify that part.

Otherwise it's good and I like your writing, I think you just need to clear it up a little bit. Best of luck :)

Melodie Wright said...

I REALLY like this. If you haven't queried Janet Reid yet, consider it.

I think the confusion everyone has mentioned stems from the lack of immediate connection of the dead accountant to the rich-girl-framed thread. Either flesh this sub-plot out (hint at WHY are the women being targeted) or leave it out entirely.

Your voice is snappy but as it stands, very similar to that of other female-PI-first-person MCs in the mystery genre. I'd keep reading on in hopes the MC holds up to the promise of your query.

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