Thursday, May 29, 2008

Killer Lines

I've been thinking about first lines, and how they drag a reader further into the book and entrap them. So, as another unique way to procrastinate from actually writing, I surveyed some of the crime fiction books on my shelves (and piled on the floor, if I'm honest) and came up with the ones I liked the most, from the genteel, to the stop you dead in your tracks.

I now present the Vanda Symon, Killer Lines Awards (feel free to argue).

Drum roll please...

* The Gentle Start Award goes to Alexander McCall Smith and The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

"Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill. These were its assets: a tiny white van, two desks, two chairs, a telephone, and an old typewriter. Then there was a teapot, in which Mma Ramotswe - the only lady private detective in Botswana - brewed redbush tea.

You have to love a novel thats starts with an inventory and acknowledges the importance of the teapot.

* The Too Much Information Award goes to Simon Beckett for The Chemistry of Death.

"A human body starts to decompose four minutes after death. Once the encapsulation of life, it now undergoes metamorphoses. It begins to digest itself."


* The Stop You Dead Award goes to Ian Rankin for Exit Music

"The girl screamed once, only the once, but it was enough."

You got my attention.

* The Shudder Award goes to Arnaldur Indridason for Silence of the Grave

"He knew at once it was a human bone, when he took it from the baby who was sitting on the floor chewing it."

Not a happy mental image, thanks.

And lastly...

* The Sass Award goes to Janet Evanovich for Metro Girl

"Just because I know how to change a guy's oil doesn't mean I want to spend the rest of my life on my back, staring up his undercarriage."


Rachael King said...

Funnily enough, I've been thinking about beginnings as well. I have written many many first lines to the new novel. And there are so many ways to approach it, dictated by what kind of novel it is and very importantly, what the point of view is. Hmmmm. I feel a blog post coming on. Thanks for the trigger!

Peter Rozovsky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Rozovsky said...

I think I like McCall Smith's opening best of that group. I have not read Metro Girl, but the openings of Janet Evanovich's first and fourth Stephanie Plum novels are as good as any I could think of.

And now I'm going to add to your list and throw in this link to some posts I made on this matter some time back. It is an eternally entertaining subject, I think.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"