First Impressions 4.27.12

Another Friday, another sampler of opening passages from books in my TBR pile to see which ones grab your attention right away.

For your perusal this week:

Long Gone by Alafair Burke, Harper, out June 19

Second Acts: Confessions of a Former Victim and Current Survivor


It has been twenty years, but at three-fourteen this morning I screamed in my sleep. I probably would not have known I had screamed were it not for the nudge from my husband—my patient, sleep-starved husband, who suspects but can never really know the reasons for his wife’s night terrors, because his wife has never truly explained them.

I could see the uncertainty coloring his face this morning as he sipped his coffee, already going cold, while I poured a fresh cup for myself at the counter, carrying the carafe to the breakfast table to top off his cup. Not uncertainty about my reasons for screaming—that was ever-present—but uncertainty about whether even to raise the subject. Should I ask her? Are some subjects better left in the subconscious?


The Nightmare by Lars Kepler (translated by Laura A. Wideburg), Sarah Crichton Books, July 3

In the light of the long June night, on becalmed waters, a large pleasure craft is discovered adrift on Jungfrufjärden Bay in the southern Stockholm archipelago. The water, a sleepy blue-gray in color, moves as softly as the fog. The old man rowing in his wooden skiff calls out a few times, even though he’s starting to suspect no one is going to answer. He’s been watching the yacht from shore for almost an hour, as it’s been drifting backward, pushed by the lazy current away from land.

The man guides his boat until it bumps against the larger craft. Pulling in his oars and tying up to the swimming platform, he climbs the metal ladder and over the railing. There’s nothing to see on the afterdeck except for a pink recliner. The old man stands still and listens. Hearing nothing, he opens the glass door and steps down into the salon.


Criminal by Karin Slaughter, Delacorte, July 10

August 15, 1974

Lucy Bennett

A cinnamon brown Oldsmobile Cutlass crawled up Edgewood Avenue, the windows lowered, the driver hunched down in his seat. The lights from the console showed narrow, beady eyes tracing along the line of girls standing under the street sign. Jane. Mary. Lydia. The car stopped. Predictably, the man tilted up his chin toward Kitty. She trotted over, adjusting her miniskirt as she navigated her spiked heels across the uneven asphalt. Two weeks ago, when Juice had first brought Kitty onto the corner, she’d told the other girls she was sixteen, which probably meant fifteen, though she looked no older than twelve.

They had all hated her on sight.

Which opener(s) just made you add the book(s) to your TBR pile? (To see past samplers, click here and here.)



  • Reply
    jenn aka the picky girl
    April 27, 2012 at 7:28 am

    I read Burke’s Long Gone and really didn’t like it. I didn’t even review it because I wasn’t sure I could say anything positive. But I know a lot of crime fiction bloggers really like her, and I’m a bit curious.

    The Keplar sounds interesting. A pink recliner on a boat? And you just know he’s going to find something really awful/disturbing/gory on that boat.

    The last one? eh. “A cinnamon brown Oldsmobile” – kind of a weird way to describe a car.

    WOW – I sound like such a pessimist. THEY ALL SOUND GOOD, LITTLE NINJA! Go forth and read. 🙂

  • Reply
    Laura Benedict
    April 27, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Alafair! Alafair!

  • Reply
    April 27, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Oh, the dreaded location/weather/scenery bug has hitten Lars Kepler! 🙂 I should start reading these entries without looking at the cover of the book because it’s hard to go into the reading without preconceptions and anticipation. I know you and I both have been waiting with great anticipation for the Kepler, so it’s hard to look at that one objectively. The one thing that struck me was the pink recliner. Which seems kind of odd, but makes me wonder if the pink is really blood. Weather/location writing aside, I’m intrigued by it and I know I’d read this one even if it began with a dark and stormy night.

    If I hadn’t known the title/author, Alafair’s might have intrigued me most, but it would have been a close call. I want to know what’s on that boat.

    Karin’s doesn’t really grab me. Teen prostitutes and pimps don’t really suck me into a book. I’d have to know more about the plot before I picked that one up.

  • Reply
    April 27, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Never Tell – The whole waking up screaming from a dream opening seems to familiar to me. It might be a great story, but I didn’t get pulled in by that opening passage.

    Nightmare – Because of what I just said about Never Tell juxtaposed with the title of this one, I almost feel like a hypocrite for liking these paragraphs more. But, as PickyGirl pointed out above, the pink recliner on a boat and the guy steps down into the salon really had me waiting for the next line because I know it’s going to be something like, “his shoes made sucking sounds as they moved down the blood covered stairs”. It’s got me. The only problems I have is knowing that I will have to wade through a bunch of descriptions of Ikea furniture I have never heard of nor care about and meals will be written about that sound wonderful but I know I shouldn’t eat. Drives me crazy and always distracts from the story.

    Criminal – I don’t know if Karin Slaughter is her real name, but I wouldn’t normally pick this book off the shelf simply because that particular name on a book dealing with crime fiction seems too manipulative and a blatant commercialized ploy to attract readers.
    But, I have to admit, I know the teen in this excerpt is about to get killed and her “co-workers” (co-hookers?) are probably in on it and I’m already on the girl’s side. Hope the rest of the book reads as gritty.

    I’m going to read Criminal.

    • Reply
      April 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      Interesting thoughts on the Slaughter name. E, do you know if it’s her real name? I love the different answers to this post in particular, as it just reminds me of why I love reading and art in general. One person’s crap is another’s gem. Thank goodness we all don’t like the same things, what a boring world this would be. AND, now that I read your thoughts on Criminal (your exposition into the hookers) it actually sounds more interesting. 🙂

  • Reply
    April 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I’m going for Alafair…and not just because I think she’s adorable. Now I can’t wait until I get my pre ordered copy so I can see what dark secrets she’s living with! I usualy like Karin, but am hookered out right now…and I just don’t get the Swedish thing. I try, but it’s work to me.

    • Reply
      April 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Love “hookered out.” I admit, there are many themes I’m tired of (or just never ‘got’ or cared for in the first instance). The Mob, drug cartels, so many to mention. If a book is going to be about a theme I’m tired of, it had better be good and I’m hesitant to pick it up. Glad I’m not the only one with this affliction.

  • Reply
    Naomi Johnson
    April 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    The Keppler book sounds good to me. I love a nautical mystery!

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    April 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I love these comments, and how you all have different tastes and see different things in these opening passages. I don’t know much about the plot of any of the books because I don’t read blurbs and like to be surprised.

    The pink recliner stuck out for me, too, and I’m nervous about what the old man will find below.

    EIREGO—Your speculation about what will happen to Kitty in CRIMINAL is wild. I wasn’t thinking that at all, but like Lauren said, it suddenly increased the intrigue factor. And according to this article, Slaughter is her real name.

    Jann—“Hookered out” is hilarious. I’m Mobbed and vampired out.

    Naomi—I hadn’t considered that NIGHTMARE might be a nautical mystery. I thought this was just the opening scene and could go anywhere from here because Kepler’s last book, THE HYPNOTIST, went to some craaazy places. But now that you’ve said it, I guess it could be a nautical tale. I’ll find out soon enough.

    • Reply
      April 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      I would also be vampired out if I’d read anything with vampires in it to begin with. I take that back, I was just vampired out a long time ago with “The Vampire Lestat.”

      Totally agree with you on this post changing the way I view things, E. I can look at them one way going in, another way after I’ve read the openings, and then another way altogether once I’ve read the comments of others. I feel like Sybil.

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