QUERY - crime/police fiction

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Ellie G
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Re: QUERY - crime/police fiction

Post by Ellie G » July 3rd, 2010, 6:57 pm

Reading through this thread, I feel like your query has hit a muddy "not quite there yet" stage where you're trying to address everybody's concerns at once and creating new problems in the process. Here's what struck me wrong (and right):
I hope you will consider my historical fiction crime novel, JOEY'S PLACE. (The agent knows you're writing because you hope she'll consider your novel. Cut this.)

September, 1970. When a prominent Las Vegas club owner is murdered in a casino parking lot, outcast Sheriff’s Detective Heber Parkins is handed the case, drawing him into a deadly struggle that will determine the city’s future. ("drawn into a deadly struggle" feels quite cliche to me. Also, this phrasing puts Heber in a very passive light.)

A soft-spoken, hard-headed Mormon, Heber usually collects the town’s anonymous victims; the waitresses and keno runners who met the wrong man or the schemers and grifters who weren’t important enough for a deep hole in the desert and fifty pounds of quicklime. (this seems unnecessary to me--if you say he's the department pariah, we infer he works the jobs nobody else wants. it also makes your query jarring, because the focus goes from the victim to Heber to the victim without any real transition) The kind of job you get when your partners keep getting themselves killed. (why the switch in voice to the generic "you"?)

The stiff in the car was the partner of legendary gambler, Joey Ross. Their club, Joey’s Place, is the toast of the Strip. Heber learns that someone wants to buy it. The dead man wanted the deal. Joey Ross was dead set against it. (This prose feels hardboiled to the point of being oversimplified.)

Heber’s superiors pressure him to arrest the gambler. Going along would be the smart choice. (you don't need to say that. It's a given that bucking your superiors' orders brings trouble. Now, if you bring back the point that Heber's blowing his one chance to get promoted out of pariah status, it's a point worth making.) But Heber smells a frame-up and doggedly unearths the low-lifes who arranged the hit. Each is brutally killed before they can reveal who pulled the trigger. And who paid for it. (this shouldn't be its own sentence. But it's a compelling core conflict!) Now, whoever eliminated them is hunting Heber and Joey Ross. (how does Heber know that Joey Ross is being hunted?)

With the real-life battle for Howard Hughes’ Nevada empire as a story element, (I don't know what this means) JOEY’S PLACE is an 86,000 word crime novel about an unknown Las Vegas. (I like that.) Not today’s fantasy factory, but the town where I grew up. When there was still open desert along the Strip, Frank and Dino ruled the showrooms, the casinos took care of their own problems, and the cops just picked up the pieces. I know that Las Vegas and I know it cold. (This is very good.)

I have sold screenplays to Showtime and independents and attended UNLV and UCLA, graduating with a degree in history. I submit this work to you because of your interest in classy crime fiction with a unique voice. JOEY'S PLACE is the first in a planned series that will portray this famously infamous town from 1970 back to its days as a watering stop on the Old Spanish Trail. (I feel like this pulls focus off the novel you're pitching.)

Thank you for your time and consideration.
I've taken the liberty of cobbling together some of your previous versions:
Dear Agent,

In September 1970, a tourist finds a dead man with two slugs in his head outside a Vegas casino. Bad for business.

The high-profile case is mysteriously assigned to the department pariah, Detective Heber Parkins, a soft-spoken, hard-headed Mormon. Parkins learns that the victim was a Mormon bishop and the business partner of legendary gambler Joey Ross. Their club, “Joey’s Place,” has been the toast of the Strip for twenty years. An ambitious young casino owner hoped to buy the club. The dead man wanted to do the deal. But Joey Ross disagreed.

The FBI fingers Ross as the killer, and Heber’s superiors pressure him to arrest the gambler. Heber refuses, smelling a frame-up, and doggedly unearths the low-lifes who arranged the hit. Each is brutally killed before they can reveal who pulled the trigger--or who paid for it.

Frustrated by the FBI's interference, Heber joins with Joey Ross and goes outside the law to find the assassin, learning the truth in a [specifics about the showdown].

JOEY’S PLACE is an 86,000 word crime novel about an unknown Las Vegas. Not today’s fantasy factory, but the town where I grew up. When there was still open desert along the Strip, Frank and Dino ruled the showrooms, the casinos took care of their own problems, and the cops just picked up the pieces. I know that Las Vegas and I know it cold.

I have sold screenplays to Showtime and independents and attended UNLV and UCLA, graduating with a degree in history. I submit this work to you because of your interest in classy crime fiction with a unique voice. JOEY'S PLACE is a standalone novel and is also the first in a planned series exploring the history of this famously infamous town.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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bigheadx
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Re: QUERY - crime/police fiction

Post by bigheadx » July 20th, 2010, 5:52 pm

Got a request for a full submission today.

Received some very good query advice here at NB. Many thanks!

Don't want to jinx it by spilling the name, but it's apparently a respected NY agency, if this and other forums are any indication.

I won't quit my day job (day job? what's that?) but it's at least better than the pitter-patter of "thanks but no thanks" emails.

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wilderness
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Re: QUERY - crime/police fiction

Post by wilderness » July 22nd, 2010, 4:45 pm

Congrats and good luck with it! :)

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