When browsing in the bookstore, what makes you want to read on?

I wrote a short a while back with an opening line that read: I remember the exact time we decided to kill the president. After a few folks read it, they thought it was a 'killer' opening. But, then I thought more about it, surely someone had opened with something similar before...

So, here I is; when I should be working, going through opening lines from my bookshelf.

Robert Crais: HOSTAGE---The man in the house was going to kill himself.

James Patterson: HONEYMOON---THINGS AREN'T ALWAYS as they appear.

Ed McBain: HARK---Gloria knew that someone was in her apartment the moment she unlocked the door and entered.

Donald E. Westlake: FIREBREAK---When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.

What's your favorite opener? The one you wrote that you like best?

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Hi,

I have a couple from G. M. Ford - a Seattle, WA. based mystery writer who is on his second series.

From: Slow Burn
I never meant to break his thumb.

From: Blown Away
“The head landed over there.” Corso turned and watched the guy trace an arc in the sky with his finger.

One of my own:
This morning started out so well I thought I was on a roll — how in the hell could I know it would be raining bodies before noon.

Only difference -- mine is not yet published.

You are absolutely correct -- without a good first sentence, a potential reader may never get beyond that first paragraph.

Cheers,
John Achor (BeeJay)
G.M. Ford knows how to start a novel.

I like yours, John---it gets my attention.
I like it too, John. Keep up the good work.
First Line from No One Left to Tell - Avon May 2008 Release:
On the trail of money, Mickey Blair sniffed out opportunity like most men chased skirts--one led to the other but cash never got a headache.

First Line from Lifeless in Seattle - a paranormal crime fiction story with humor:
The man had a damned eye dangling out of a socket protruding from the center of his forehead--his best feature.

First Line from No One Heard Her Scream - Avon Apr 2008 Release:
Somewhere in her heart, Danielle Montgomery knew this was wrong, and her guilt had a face.
Good stuff, Jordan.

Cash never got a headache? Are you implying that I am wasting my time 'chasing skirts....?
I think I had you in mind BEFORE I ever got to know poor old Mickey Blair. He doesn't last long in my story anyway. You're on the right side of the dirt, Dennis. Count your blessings.
The right side of the dirt,---that has a nice ring to it.

Dennis Leppanen: Escape From Little Alcatraz---He made good on his boast, there wasn't a prison that could hold him.

Mickey Spillane---"Your first line sells the book. Your last line sells the next book."
I love your examples, Dennis--especially your President line. And that Mickey Spillane quote is very cool.
Favorite of all time: Orwell's 1984: "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." You read that and go "WTF"? You know immediately you're not in Kansas anymore.

Favorite Mystery/Thriller: I'd have to call this one a tie:

James Crumley, THE LAST GOOD KISS: "When I finally caught up with Abraham Trehearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart out of a fine spring afternoon."

Duane Swierczynski's THE BLONDE: "I poisoned your drink."



Favorite I've written: THE DEVIL'S RIGHT HAND: "She ain't no damn lesbian."
drinking the heart out of a fine spring afternoon.---yes.
Isn't that amazing? Crumley is God.
Oooooh I love first lines - here are some of my favourites:

JAMES SALLIS - DRIVE
Much later, as he sat with his back against an inside wall of a Motel 6 just north of Phoenix, watching the pool of blood lap toward him, Driver would wonder whether he had made a terrible mistake.

STEVE BREWER - MONKEY MAN
Nothing interrupts a nice chat like the arrival of a gorilla.

THE LAST GOOD KISS - JAMES CRUMLEY
When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.

VICTOR GISCHLER - GUN MONKEYS
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.

ANGELHUNT - MIKE RIPLEY
It could have been the extra garlic I'd put in the Rogan Josh which woke me at 2.06am but it was probably the noise Billy Tuckett made falling through the bathroom skylight and killing himself.

THE RIVAL QUEENS - FIDELIS MORGAN
"If you don't reduce your pace, I shall have an attack of the spleen, madam," shrieked the Countess at her maid, Alpiew, who was running a good twenty yards ahead.

LONELYHEART 4122 - COLIN WATSON
Arthur Henry Spain, Butcher, of Harlow Place, Flaxborough, awoke one morning from a dream in which he had been asking all his customers how to spell 'phlegm' and thought - quite inconsequentially: I haven't seen anything of Lilian lately.

FREEZER BURN - JOE LANSDALE
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.

GUMSHOE - NEVILLE SMITH
He looked like the kind of guy your mother would like to marry your sister. If you had a mother. If you had a sister.

TWO WAY SPLIT - ALLAN GUTHRIE
Four months and twenty-two days after he stopped taking his medication, Robin Greaves dragged the chair out from under the desk and sat down opposite the private investigator.

PSYCHOSOMATIC - ANTHONY NEIL SMITH
Because Lydia didn't have arms or legs, she shelled out three thousand bucks to a washed up middleweight named Cap to give her ex-husband the beating of his life.

THE HACKMAN BLUES - KEN BRUEN
'Brady's bad fucked' I wrote it on the wall in yellow day-glo marker.

CAST ADRIFT - PETER GUTTRIDGE
At least this time I didn't have a lobster clamped to my testicles.

CHARLES WILLEFORD - MIAMI BLUES
Frederick J. Frenger, Jr., a blithe psycopath from California, asked the flight attendant in first class for another glass of champagne and some writing materials.

EDGAR BOX - DEATH LIKES IT HOT
The death of Peaches Sandoe, the midget, at the hands or rather feet, of a maddened elephant in the sideshow of the circus at Madison Square Garden was at first thought to be an accident, the sort of tragedy you're bound to run into from time to time if you run a circus with both elephants and midgets in it

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