One of my discussion groups had a lively debate on first lines. Here are some of the best ones:
"It was a dark and stormy night. And I know, God damn it, but I can't help it; it was."
A Death on 66 by William Sanders
"It wasn't like they said. It wasn't her entire life flashing before his eyes. Only the part she was pissed off about."
The Sixteenth Man by Thomas B. Sawyer
"We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge."
Darker than Amber by John D. MacDonald
"My mind was on Steinbeck; my foot was on a hand."
Till the End of Tom by Gillian Roberts
"I turned the Chrysler onto the Florida Turnpike with Rollo Kramer's headless body in the trunk, and all the time I'm thinking I should have put some plastic down."
Gun Monkeys by Victor Gischler
"At least this time I didn't have a lobster clamped to my testicles."
Cast Adrift by Peter Guttridge
"This is a bank robbery," the big man said, his voice muffled by the stocking that covered his head and distorted his features.
"And this, sir, is a drycleaners," the matronly woman behind the counter responded with a frown. "I suggest you try next door".
Foiled Again by Peter Guttridge
"Bill Roberts decided to rob the firecracker stand on account he didn't have a job and not a nickel's worth of money and his mother was dead and kind of freeze-dried in her bedroom."
Freezer Burn by Joe Lansdale
"The so-called extraterrestrials who'd visited Maggody a few months ago had found no sign of intelligent life and I doubted anyone else could either."
Miracles in Maggody by Joan Hess
"It could have been the extra garlic I'd put in the Rogan Josh which woke me at 2:06 am but it was probably the noise Billy Tuckett made falling through the bathroom skylight and killing himself."
Angelhunt by Mike Ripley
"The last camel collapsed at noon."
The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett
"I woke up with a twenty-pound dog wrapped around my head like an Easter bonnet."
False Profits by Patricia Smiley
"It may be only blackmail," said the man in the taxi hopefully.
The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham.
"The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge."
The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe
"On the day his destiny returned to claim him, Ted Mundy was sporting a bowler hat and balancing on a soap box in one of Mad King Ludwig's castles in Bavaria."
Absolute Friends by John Le Carre
"In the crypt of the abbey church at Hallowdene, the monks were boiling their bishop."
The Bone-Pedlar by Sylvian Hamilton
"Countess Judith kept her husband's head in a box."
The Gleemaiden by Sylvian Hamilton
"Which one of you bitches is my mother?"
Lace by Shirley Conran
And for those of you who want even more, this person has devoted an entire blog to first lines, while these folks give out awards to best first lines.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
If you want a haunting thriller / mystery with a psychological edge, then that's Karin Fossum's books. I read her first book, Don't Look Back, for my online book discussion group, 4 Mystery Addicts. She's a Norwegian writer, her language is very sparse yet she draws you in immediately and never lets go. She starts out leading you in one direction, only to pull a fast one on the reader. And what she does in the beginning, she does in the end, leaving us with a very ambiguous ending -- do we really know who the killer was? It was a very neat trick.
Her second book in the series is He Who Fears the Wolf. It's dark, disturbing and very good. It's more of a psychological thriller really, though, than a mystery. You may very well figure out the killer before the ending, but it's still a powerful read.