Query critique 1/25/24

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
Post Reply
User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1554
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: Pasadena, CA

Query critique 1/25/24

Post by Nathan Bransford » January 22nd, 2024, 4:26 pm

Want to see how your editing approach compares to mine?

Below is the query up for critique on the blog on Thursday. Feel free to chime in with comments, create your own redline (please note the "font colour" button above the posting box, which looks like a drop of ink), and otherwise offer feedback. When offering your feedback, please please remember to be polite and constructive. In order to leave a comment you will need to register an account in the Forums, which should be self-explanatory.

I'll be back with my own post on the blog and we'll literally be able to compare notes.

December 19, 2023

XXXXXXXX Literary Agency

Dear Ms.XXX,

I hope this letter finds you well. I see that you are registered for the upcoming Thrillerfest 2024, and I would like to introduce my novel, ONCE A DETECTIVE…, and express my interest in securing your representation.

ONCE A DETECTIVE… is a work of commercial fiction in the private detective genre. In present time, Detective Dan Burnett, with 30 years of experience with the NYPD, fails his physical and chooses retirement over desk duty. At fifty-five, he’s too young to do nothing, so he becomes a private investigator and learns the ropes from a P.I. with a similar history. Divorced, his one source of true happiness is his college-aged daughter.
After assisting his new partner with some ongoing cases, he lands a case of his own: a beautiful woman whose brother was murdered. After two years, the NYPD had given up on the case, so it’s now up to him to find the murderer.
The suspects are Las Vegas casinos, where the brother owed a million dollars, and his second wife, who inherited millions upon his death.
He doggedly works the case using his life-long skills with the help of a former colleague, the NYPD detective originally assigned to the case. Tracking a mob hitman leads him on a chase across the country, searching for the truth and ultimately finding it.

Inspired by my favorite novels by Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, Robert B. Parker, and others, I have woven a story of mystery, suspense, and romance.

I have recently retired from a life as a real estate developer and ocean sailor, and I finally have the time to pursue my longtime passion for writing and storytelling. To promote my work, I am in the process of creating an author’s web page that will link to social media.

Following is the first chapter for your review. I am happy to provide the complete 61,000-word manuscript at your request, and am also open to discussing revisions to align with your publishing vision.

Thank you for considering ONCE A DETECTIVE… I look forward to the opportunity to discuss this project with you further. Feel free to contact me by phone or e-mail to arrange a meeting or provide feedback.


Tilly G
Posts: 3
Joined: January 2nd, 2024, 6:54 pm

Re: Query critique 1/25/24

Post by Tilly G » February 24th, 2024, 10:31 am

Hi, I'm new to this. Like your genre and liked Detective Dan, 55 and struggling. That makes me sympathetic.

I'd suggest tightening up: mention the retirement, but introduce the case sooner. What's important? NYPD not moving on case, murdered guy was rich, widow inherited millions. Clarify this: "The suspects are Las Vegas casinos." Casino owners are suspects? Be specific rather than "his life-long skills," mention what he does, where the trail leads.
If he teams up with the NYPD detective originally assigned the case, does this guy play an important role in the book? Name him.

What motivates this guy? Is he resentful about having to quit the police force? Show his personality with an adjective or two.

Again, how important is the daughter in the book? Does he have the funding for travel? Is he worried about his daughter?

Use the template Nathan provides for query letter writing, and mention the biggest conflicts in your story with transitional words to move the query letter along.

Btw, best not to tell the agent the ending. You want a hook, not a HEA, especially in your genre.

I'd certainly read this book, but you need to seduce the agent rather than tell the agent how Dan got into the PI business. No time for small details in a query.

You can do it!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest