Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thriller, mystery, or cheater?

by Rebecca Cantrell

Here’s an opening based on a thriller I’m working on. I fudged a bit. The scene is set in Venice, so there’s no high rise, and Clara’s in her 20s instead of her 30s. But at least I followed a couple of the rules of the assignment. There’s a gun and he’s older than her.

A woman in a burgundy suit showed her to Commissario Rutelli’s office. Stacks of paper towered from each corner of his scarred wooden desk. The papers on the bottom looked older than he did. Between the stacks was a pistol. She had seen one like it before in a glass case in Vienna. And another near the body of a dying man.

“Signora Bloch.” He rose and took her hand between both of his. “You are well?”

She pried her hand free and gestured to the pistol. “A connoisseur, I see.”

“The M1910?” He made a sound of dismissal. “A common gun here.”

“Yet it is the gun that killed Archduke Ferdinand and started the first world war,” she said. “The tool of an assassin.”

* * *
I rewrote it as a mystery. I don’t quite like it yet, but decided to post it anyway. Not all experiments are successful, and that’s important to show too. Or at least that’s the high falutin’ excuse I’m spouting so that I can gracefully give up and go to bed.

I took a water taxi to the police station. The brackish water reeked of decaying fish, the smell of the sea that my mother always raved about. I clenched my hands in my lap and tried not to think about her.

At the Questura a woman in a burgundy suit with a golden scarf knotted in that clever European fashion that I could never master showed me to Commissario Rutelli’s office.
I knocked once and went right in before he could send me away.

He sat in a rickety office chair that failed all Silicon Valley’s ergonomic standards, head resting on a stack of papers piled up on his desk. A pistol sat square on his desk next to his outstretched hand.

“Hello?” I asked, but he didn’t move. In fact, he wasn’t going to ever move again.

* * *

You be the judge: is the thriller a thriller? the mystery a mystery? or did I cheat the assignment?


Meredith Cole said...

Whatever it is, I say I want more! They're both great beginnings, Becky. Very intriguing...

Lois Winston said...

Great job, Meredith! And who cares if you bend the rules a bit?

Unknown said...

I HATE having to go after you, Becky! Really, really HATE it. I didn't read yours until I'd finished mine and guess what??? I have start over!! (grumble, grumble, grumble) :)

Kelli Stanley said...

I agree with Meredith! No reader stops mid-page and says: "Wait--is this a thriller or a mystery?"

We want more! Great job!!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Meredith! As soon as I finish this novel, that thriller is next on my list (are you listening, Kelli? Now you can know that your nagging is working).

Thanks, Lois! But I'm not Meredith. Unless you are posting from a time machine...

Rebecca Cantrell said...


You sound so much like Tracy, it's eerie. :)

Sorry to make you start over, but I am expecting brilliance and hilarity from your post. No pressure.

TracyK said...

OMG!!! I was signed in on my daughter's account! HA! But it still stands!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Kelli!

That book is next on my list. June, I think. I promise. (and thanks for the nudges!)

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelli Stanley said...

Glad to help the president of the FTFB Club, Becks!! :)

I'll be back with more nudges ...

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Sorry Tracy/Elizabeth! I've posted as my son before. How tenuous our online identities are.

Kelli: I know, I know! (and thanks!)

Joshua Corin said...

1. Yes. 2. Yes. 3. Yes.

Wow, suddenly I'm Molly Bloom.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Josh, as long as you have as much fun as Molly does when saying yes, I say go for it!