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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I never heard of Dexter until they started showing the Showtime series on CBS. So many books, so little time. No, you're not the only one. But I may be the only person who has never read a Harry Potter book.
"A seagull swooped low over the white, man-made beach of Biloxi. The midmorning sun was bright, and I squinted against the glare of the sparkling Mississippi Sound. The water held potential. An accidental drowning wouldn't be a bad way to go, and it would b so much easier on my parents than suicide. My BlackBerry buzzed against my waist, disrupting the constant whisper of the water, the promises of numbness and sleep. I turned back to my truck and checked the number. The newspaper. I was late again."

From Revenant by Carolyn Haines.
I read Revenant several weeks ago. Frankly had trouble putting it down. She's a terrific writer with a heart-breaking protagonist.

Hope you enjoy it.

I totally agree. Carolyn's a great writer and a great friend, and so far, I'm loving Revenant. :-)

I dimly recall being eaten by the bat.

Short story called "Becoming Elijah" by Bob Meads
I really love the idea of keeping this thread ticking over so:

"Omar Yussef, a teacher of history to the unhappy children of Dehaisha refugee camp, shuffled stiffly up the meandering road, past the gray, stone homes built in the time of the Turks on the edge of Beit Jala. He paused in the strong evening wind, took a comb from the top pocket of his tweed jacket, and tried to tame the strands of white hair with which he covered his baldness. He glanced down at his maroon loafers in the orange flicker of the buzzing street lamp and tutted at the dust that clung to them as he tripped along the uneven roadside, away from Bethlehem."

The Bethlehem Murders, Matt Rees
Was there anything quite so under-rated in this shallow, plastic, global-corporate, tall-skinny-latte, kiddy-meal-and-free-toy, united-colours-of-fuck-you-too world, than a good old-fashioned, no frills, retail blow job?

Christopher Brookmyre's The Sacred Art of Stealing.

Some of his others are a little more provocative, but so far this may be his best (I'm not finished it yet).

How come brookmyre never gets mentioned with the other Scots? Did he piss someone off?
Cynthia stood out front of the two-story house on Hickory. It wasn''t as though she was seeing her childhood house for the first time in nearly twenty-five years. She still lived in Milford. She'd driven by here once in a while. She showed me the house once before we got married, a quick drive-by. "There it is," she said, and kept on going. She rarely stopped. And if she did, she didn't get out. She'd never stood on the sidewalk and stared at the place.

That's the first paragraph of Linwood Barclay's No Time for Goodbye (there's a prologue before that). It's a kind of a "family thriller." Cynthia was fourteen when she woke up one morning and the rest of her family was gone. The story takes place twenty-five years later (now) when a TV show revisits the disappearance and weird stuff starts happening. It's very good.
"I woke up with IVs taped to my arms, a feeding tube shoved through my nose, and my tongue pushed against my teeth, dead and thick as a sock. My mouth was hot and tasted of copper, and my molars felt loose, jogged in their beds from grinding. I blinked against the harsh light and squinted into a haze of face, too close for a casual - a man straddling a backward chair, strong forearms overlapped, a sheet of paper drooping from one square fist. Another guy behind him, dressed the same - rumpled sport coat, loose tie offset from open collar, glint at the hip. Downgraded to bystander, a doctor stood by the door, ignoring the electronic blips and bleeps. I was in a hospital room."

-- From THE CRIME WRITER by Greg Hurwitz
"Alison Larsen's body went undiscovered for about 6 hours. Local children found her first. The paper never reported this, but a couple of the kids organized an impromptu club with a mandate to "experiment" on her corpse. What will happen if we put rocks in her mouth? Can her eyes still see? If we cut her, will she still bleed?

SECRET DEAD MEN by Duane Swierczynski
What a great question. Anyone know what book began... "It was a dark and stormy night"? and Snoopy is not the correct response...LOL.

Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles (2002)
Harper Perennial: New York

"It was the third year of the war and by now there was hardly anybody left in the country except the women and the children. The men were gone with Colonel Reeves to live in the forests, and many families had fled to Texas or St. Louis. Abandoned house places look out with blank windows form every hollow and valley in the Ozark mountains so that at night the wind sang through the disintegrating chinkings as if through a bone flute.

Adair Colley had just turned eighteen in early November of 1864 when the Union Militia arrested her father and tried to set the house on fire. Her sister Savannah saw them first; a long line of riders in blue trotting in double column as they turned into the road that led to the Colley farm."
Here you go!!

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

--Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest


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