First Impressions 5.18.12

I had a hard time this week finding three really strong openers, even in the books I enjoyed. These were among the better ones (I haven’t read any of them).

Guilt by Degrees by Marcia Clark, Mulholland Books, available now

He listened as the car pulled out of the driveway. When the sound of the engine faded into the distance, Zack looked at his watch: 9:36 a.m. Perfect. Three solid hours of “me” time. He eagerly trotted down the thinly carpeted stairs to the basement, the heavy thud of his work boots echoing through the empty house. Clutched in his hand was the magazine photograph of the canopy he intended to make. It would probably cost a small fortune at one of those fancy designer stores, but the copy he’d make would be just as good, if not better—and for less than a tenth of the price. A smile curled on Zack’s lips as he enjoyed the mental image of Lilah’s naked body framed by gauzy curtains hanging from the canopy, wafting seductively around the bed. He inhaled, imagining her perfume as he savored the fantasy.


Dead Scared by S.J. Bolton, Minotaur, out June 5


Tuesday 22 January (a few minutes before midnight)

When a large object falls from a great height, the speed at which it travels accelerates until the upward force of air resistance becomes equal to the downward propulsion of gravity. At that point, whatever is falling reaches what is known as terminal velocity, a  constant speed that will be maintained until it encounters a more powerful force, most commonly the ground.

Suzy’s Case by Andy Siegel, Scribner, out July 10

Little Suzy is lying in a Brooklyn hospital bed fevered and weakened. If her temperature were heating a pot you’d hear the high-pitched tone of a whistling teakettle. That’s why her six-year-old frame is on top of the dingy white sheets and not under them.

If her lungs were a train engine you’d hear puff, puff…chug, chug with the internal dialogue of her autonomic nervous system repeating, I think I can…I think I can.

Any of these grab you? Can the Suzy’s Case cover BE any creepier? It makes my skin crawl, but it’s also rather clever. In a creepy way.

Happy Friday!



  • Reply
    jenn aka the picky girl
    May 18, 2012 at 7:28 am

    I really hate when people refer to kids as “Little” this or that. And yeah, cover is creepy, but that opening doesn’t really do it for me.

    The second one opens with what is pretty common knowledge, and based on author, I’d bet I know exactly what is going to hit the ground.

    The first, though, has me pretty curious, though I don’t think many guys say “me time” – but I’m curious whether he’s going to get it or Lilah will.

    I’ve always read the opening paragraph when I’m buying books, but until you started this, I never really analyzed it. I either liked it or didn’t. Bought it or didn’t. It’s interesting not to be able to go any further, too.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2012 at 8:03 am

    I’m with Jenn on a couple of things. “Little” (along with “kiddo,” especially for adults) drives me nuts. And a guy saying “me time” really rang false for me as well.

    Where I’m polar opposite of Jenn (and you) is that I never read the opening of a book before I buy it. Based on these, I don’t think I would buy or read any of them. And that makes me wonder what I would miss.

    I love the cover of Suzy’s Case, but the opening spoke to me the least. Almost a groaner. And I didn’t really care to read about Zack’s “me time,” even if something bad was coming down the road. So I guess Bolton’s wins by default. Not really for the opening, but because I want to know what’s happening. Interestingly, while Jenn focused on what was falling, I was waiting for someone on the groud to get plunked.

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    May 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    That’s funny—I also picked up on the “me time” as being something I don’t hear men say. Mr. PCN would probably say something like, “I’ll have some time to chill out.”

    It’s so interesting for me to see what grabs you and what turns you off. Suzy’s Case‘s next paragraph describes her heart as going “boom, boom” and puts the whole string together as “Whistle, puff, puff, chug, chug, boom-boom.” And then repeats it. I thought, “OK, now that’s just beating the cutesy sounds into the ground. Move on.”

    The Bolton wins this round for me. I was tense waiting to see who hits the ground. It’s funny that Lauren was waiting to see who the body falls on!

    • Reply
      May 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      Ugh, felt the same way about the whole train thing. I want a mystery/thriller, not The Little Engine That Could.

      So you went Jenn’s route with the falling object. I, frankly, didn’t even consider that a body was falling. My immediate reaction was something akin to a piano was falling and going to take out some poor schmoe on the ground. Now you HAVE to read it and tell us which it is. I think part of what influenced me was the last line, “most commonly the ground.” I kind of read that to mean that the instance being written about was NOT the common instance and there was something between the falling object and the ground. At this point in my diatribe, I think it’s likely a dead horse.

  • Reply
    Naomi Johnson
    May 18, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Urgh. Pretty unintriguing lot of openings. I wouldn’t bother with any of them except that I liked all of SJ Bolton’s books save the last one, Now You See Me. Despite the rather pedantic first paragraph, I’m willing to sample more of Dead Scared.

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