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Home » Books & writing

First Impressions 4.20.12

Submitted by on April 20, 2012 – 1:15 am 11 Comments

Last week I got several votes to make this a regular feature, so I’ll once again feature the opening passages of three upcoming books to see a) which ones you would read based on the intro alone, and b) if you can guess what the books are about. I try to select openers with something dynamic going on, and these fit the bill.

The Yard by Alex Grecian, Putnam, out May 29

London, 1889.

Nobody noticed when Inspector Christian Little of Scotland Yard disappeared, and nobody was looking for him when he was found. A black steamer trunk appeared at Euston Square Station sometime during the night and remained unnoticed until early afternoon of the following day. The porter discovered it after the one o’clock train had departed, and he opened the trunk when it proved too heavy for him to lift.

He immediately sent a boy to find the police.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Crown, June 5



When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the heard I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it. Like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call a finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily.

I’d know her head anywhere.

And what’s inside it. I think of that, too: her mind. Her brain, all those coils, and her thoughts shuttling through those coils like fast, frantic centipedes. Like a child, I picture opening her skull, unspooling her brain and sifting through it, trying to catch and pin down her thoughts. What are you thinking, Amy?


Cop to Corpse by Peter Lovesey, Soho Crime, June 12

Hero to zero.

Cop to corpse.

One minute PC Harry Tasker is strolling up Walcot Street, Bath, on foot patrol. The next he is shot through the head. No scream, no struggle, no last words. He is picked off, felled, dead.

The shooting activates an alarm over one of the shops nearby, an ear-splitting ring certain to wake everyone.

Which ones have your attention?

Happy Friday!




  • Ooh, THE YARD definitely has my attention.

  • Ben LeRoy says:

    COP TO CORPSE genuinely grabbed my attention. I would keep reading THE YARD, but probably not GONE GIRL.

  • Michelle Isler says:

    COP TO CORPSE grabbed my attention. I would have bought Gillian Flynn’s novel without reading the first paragraph. Her books are always good.

  • Lauren says:

    Wow, this is a rough one. You know me, I’m all about avoiding historical fiction, but The Yard might be the one that intrigues me the most. Which is a bit surprising, because before reading the openings, I would have put the G. Flynn at the top of the list. After reading them, I might even put that third. And the worst part is this just means even more to add to my already longer than I will live TBR list.

    Love this column, keep ’em coming, E!

  • EIREGO says:

    THE YARD: It’s lean in that “just the facts, ma’am” vibe, like an episode of Dragnet. I was drawn in.

    GONE GIRL: I love how it sucks you in with the idea that it might be one of those timeless and quirky romances, then it gets creepy. I like an author who can change my perception so quickly. Reads like the POV of a serial killer.

    COP TO CORPSE: Not sure what to make of this. It’s not really grabbing me, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t keep reading. Right on the fence.

    This is fun! I hope you keep doing it.

  • Oooh THE YARD. I love that sort of immediate grab it gives you. I’m hooked.

  • Dorie Brennecke says:

    Cop to Corpse doesn’t interest me at all. Too abrupt for me. Gone Girls sounds intriguing and my initial thought was that would be my first choice. After re-reading them, though, I have to say The Yard grabs me the most.

  • Elizabeth Duncan says:

    I love this. My openings are flat and boring. Really makes me think. Thanks, PCN.

  • robyn says:

    Absolutely – it’s the YARD!

  • Clare2e says:

    If I had to pick one, it would be The Yard, a nice mix of description and implication, economically doled out.

  • Pop Culture Nerd says:

    Thanks for all your comments, everyone. I think we have a winner—THE YARD!

    Michelle—I’m also a massive Gillian Flynn fangirl and would’ve bought GONE GIRL blindfolded. Yes, I read that opening when I first got it, but I don’t know much else about it and don’t care because if she wrote it, it’s brilliant.

    Elizabeth—I don’t recall your openings being flat and boring, but for me, something mysterious happening right in the first paragraph never hurts!

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