On the excellent 4MA mailing list, one of the standard questions each month is "What is the first paragraph on Page X of the book you are reading?" I get loads of book recommendations that way, so I thought I would start a similar discussion here, as I am always looking for suggestions for books to read.

So what is the first paragraph or two of the book you are currently reading?

I've just started TO KISS OR KILL by Day Keene from 1951. Here's the first few paragraphs as they are short:

'You never can tell what a big tough Polish boy will do when he finds a nude blonde in his bathroom. Especially if he is a heavyweight fighter who was born back of the yards, is married to a million dollars, and has a psychiatric record.

He might do a number of things. He might tell her to get out. He might yell for his wife. He might blow what's left of his top. He might even do what Barney Mandell did, come to his addled senses.

It really happened, in Chicago. It happened to Barney Mandell on the afternoon on the day he was released from the asylum as cured, because he hadn't wrung a parrot's neck in two years.

Oh, yes. The nude blonde was dead.'

Isn't that marvellous? What a start. Tells you enough about Barney Mandell to make you want to know more.

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For Sister Anne, death was always near.

But tonight, it felt closer and she didn't know why.

Tonight was like any other in the Compassionate Heart of Mercy Shelter at the fringe of Seattle's Pioneer Square District, where she was offering tomato soup to those who had lost hope. Their pasts haunted their faces. The pain of their lives stained their bodies with lesions, needle tracks, and prison tattoos

A Perfect Grave - Rick Mofina
Having been to LCC in Seattle I culd really picture the setting which was great. Do they go into the underground city at all by any chance?
I'm not far enough to know, but this is the second Jason Wade book for me and Rick is a great writer.
Nope. Not in this book.
I just finished it, my first by Mofina.
What a wonderfully constructed novel- he wove the threads togeather so beautifully.
When we did the Underground tour at LCC, I saw a few authors reaching for notepads- I predict a rash of stories about it in a year or so.
As the guy who signed the checks to make that tour party happen (MWA-Northwest Chapter president), I am really happy to hear that my fellow authors got something out of that party.
Dang, now I have to put another Seattle detective on my list.
“The Doctor will see you now.”

The moment Ray Santana heard Orsino say the words, he knew he was going to die, and die horribly.

Ten hours or so had passed since the adhesive tape blindfold had been ripped away. Ten hours of being gagged and lashed to a high-backed chair--his head and chin taped so tightly, so expertly, that he could not move at all. Ten hours of listening to mariachi bands and singers in the streets above and knowing that for all the good they would do him, the revelers might as well be celebrating their Fiesta de Nogales on Mars. Ten hours without seeing any movement except the comings and goings of a huge roach.

Michael Palmer's Silent Treatment (Bantam, 1995).
Ew - the roach gave me the creeps - good stuff. And another author I've never read. He writes medical thrillers doesn't he? I'm not good with those - I think that's why I've never read him.
A bit of a slow-burn shaggy dog, but a great opening:

"This morning on planet Earth, there are one thousand, six hundred, and eighty-six enhanced, gifted, or otherwise-superpowered persons. Of these, one hundred and twenty-six are civilians leading normal lives. Thirty-eight are kept in research facilities funded by the Department of Defense, or foreign equivalents. Two hundred and twenty-six are aquatic, confined to the oceans. Twenty-nine are strictly localized -- powerful trees and genii loci, the Great Sphinx, and the Pyramid of Giza. Twenty-five are microscopic (including the Infinitesimal Seven). Three are dogs, four are cats, one is a bird. Six are made of gas. One is a mobile electrical effect, more of a weather pattern than a person. Seventy-seven are alien visitors. Thirty-eight are missing. Forty-one are off-continuity, permanent emigres to Earth's alternate realities and branching timestreams.

"Six hundred and seventy-eight use their powers to fight crime, while four hundred and forty use their powers to commit them. Forty-four are currently confined in Special Containment Facilities for enhanced criminals. Of these last, it is interesting to note that an unusually high proportion have IQs of 300 or more -- eighteen to be exact. Including me."

Austin Grossman, "Soon I Will Be Invincible"
I want to know about the thirty eight missing. This sounds like an adult version of The Incredibles :o) I've added this one to my list too.
What makes this book work so well is that it isn't ironic or smirky about the universe it is setting up at all. So its less send-up and more an emotionally honest look at characters and (super)human natures that just happen to be heroes or villains. And on top of all that it gathers all the usual suspects anyway, so you get cake and get to eat it too.
Another good book along these lines is "From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain" by Minister Faust. It's about some superheroes in group therapy. Funny, but also serious. You'll never look at Batman the same again...


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