Friday, November 5, 2010

Query 34

Shadow of Turning

[Agent Address]

Re: SHADOW OF TURNING/70,000 words/Genre: Crime/Suspense

Dear [Name of Agent]:

Latina lawyer Gianne Noble's legendary client faces execution for a double murder. Fallen Tejano star Benny Benavides would choose death row over letting his daughter -- or his lawyer -- learn the unimaginable family secret that drove his desperate act. Then, in the middle of trial, Gianne herself uncovers the gut-wrenching tie between the victims and the girl's long-dead mother.

Now the decision Benny didn't trust his lawyer with is hers to make. If Gianne stands silent, she'll leave a young girl orphaned, forever sheltered from savage truths but unaware her father sacrificed his life to protect hers. If the lawyer turns away from her client and reveals what she knows, she'll prove him innocent. And shatter his daughter with knowledge no child -- no one -- should ever hear.

SHADOW OF TURNING is the story of the redemptive power of a father's love. Based on an actual case pulled from the files of an FBI profiler, it juxtaposes the vibrant world of Tejano music with the stark evil of a depraved killer.

I live and practice law by the sea in Corpus Christi, Texas. My education in literature and law took root in my native Texas but was cultivated at Oxford. Here are [agent's requirements] of SHADOW OF TURNING for your consideration. Thank you for your time.

Comments

The author says other versions of this query haven't worked. The writing is strong and her word choices vibrant, so I'm thinking she teases the reader just a little too much. And perhaps focuses on the case more than on the lawyer.

Whose story is this: Gianne's or Benny's? While the setup seems to make this Gianne's story, the theme of "the redemptive power of a father's love" seems to say it's Benny's. It feels a little unfocused.

Also, because you don't tell us much about Gianne, I'm scratching my head a bit. She's Benny's lawyer, so how does she "turn away from her client" to reveal what she knows and prove him innocent. My perception is proving him innocent is her job, so that doesn't read quite right.

Now, I'm not a psychologist, but it also seems that whatever the savage truth is the girl is supposedly being protected from may not actually be worse to the daughter's psyche than to think her father was executed for being a murderer. Without knowing what the act was that precipitated the murders, it feels like "six of one, half dozen of the other," as really, no child should ever hear Daddy's being killed for murdering not just one but two people. That's probably gonna leave her scarred big time right there.

I was also left a bit unclear about how it "juxtaposes the vibrant world of Tejano music with the stark evil of a depraved killer." Is the unthinkable act connected to the music world? There's no indication of that in the query save for noting Benny is a Tejano star, which could mean a star in any industry or sport. And then I'm not sure who the "depraved killer" refers to. The way the query and theme statement is set up, it SHOULD mean Benny. But you've painted a picture of Benny being a man who is certainly not depraved -- or even a killer, if he's truly innocent. So it seems a contradiction. But the query also says the secret "drove his desperate act," so maybe he is a killer, but it's justified homicide? I'm confused.

All-in-all, I think maybe you're holding your cards too tight. If you spell things out just a little more clearly and give us a little more insight into Gianne's character and motivation for wrestling with her conscience, I think this could be a very compelling query.

3 comments:

vkw said...

It's well written but it's hard to follow.

Who is the main character?
What is the main character's goal?
What happens if he/she fails?
How does the story start?

Sarah Laurenson said...

This is basically well written.

I think I'll start at the bottom though:

I live and practice law by the sea in Corpus Christi, Texas. My education in literature and law took root in my native Texas but was cultivated at Oxford.

The question really is can you write a book, not where you live or where you were educated. You might be putting people off with this. It sounds a bit snooty even if it's true. It's good that you're knowlegeable about the law, but it's not necessary for writing a book. You're using up precious word count here.

The first paragraph is a bit hard to follow. I didn't get right away that Benny was the client as he's not identified as such in the first sentence.

There is some confusion about who "her" is sometimes. Giving the daughter a name might help.

You're missing word count and genre.

Here's my shot at it.


Gianne Noble's legendary client, Tejano star Benny Benavides, faces execution for a double murder. He’s choosing death row over letting his daughter, Angie -- or his lawyer -- learn the unimaginable family secret that drove his desperate act. But Gianne herself uncovers the gut-wrenching tie between the victims and Angie’s long-dead mother.

If Gianne stands silent, she'll leave a young girl orphaned, forever sheltered from savage truths but unaware her father sacrificed his life to protect hers. If Gianne reveals what she knows, she'll prove him innocent. And shatter his daughter with knowledge no child -- no one -- should ever hear.

SHADOW OF TURNING, an 80,000 word crime novel, is the story of the redemptive power of a father's love. Based on an actual case pulled from the files of an FBI profiler, it juxtaposes the vibrant world of Tejano music with the stark evil of a depraved killer.

Matt said...

I think the pieces will fall into place once you reveal the big secret. At the moment, I can't follow it.