Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Query Revision 25: Redux

Murder on Music Row

Dear Agent:

When Nan Macomb, a spunky thirty-five-year-old Nashville hair stylist finds Randy Soleman, her married, music exec ex-boyfriend, bludgeoned to death with his own Grammy Award, she is determined to untangle the clues to find his killer.

Nan works her cut-and-color magic in her tiny home salon while gabby clients keep her up-to-date on the Music City’s latest hair-raising gossip. Bombarded by one too many anecdotes about her former lover’s cheating heart (and other body parts) she barges into his office only to find him as dead as Elvis. She moves the Grammy, leaving her fingerprints all over the heavy statuette, so it’s no surprise her name heads the suspect list.

Nan’s cadre of friends and clients rally to help her comb for evidence to prove Nan’s innocence, preserve her reputation and salvage her career. They aid and abet her break-in to Randy’s house to search for documents he’d hidden there. What they uncover exposes an embezzlement scheme at his company, Heart and Soul Music, and points to a possible motive.

Inept kidnappers snatch Nan from her ex-lover’s crowded funeral, but she foils their plans and finesses the missing details about an elaborate payroll ruse from these H&S employees. Unfortunately, her inquest also convinces her they didn’t kill Randy either.

When an apparent suicide note surfaces that stymies the police, Nan, a long-time puzzle enthusiast, discovers an encrypted message buried in the words—a message that could ensure future makeovers won’t be on fellow cellmates.

MURDER ON MUSIC ROW is a stand-alone 78,000 word mystery that could be developed into a series. May I send you pages or the complete manuscript?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully,

Comments

This version isn't that much different from the revision we saw in the comments of the original that was posted here back in October. However, I'm delighted to post this version since I'm sure not many people saw that earlier revised version, and having examples of queries that work is just as important as having examples of those that still need a bit of finessing. (Hmm, I need something to procrastinate writing some more -- maybe it's time to tag all the queries and include an "it works!" tag.)

On my first read-through, I could see all the elements needed for a nice cozy mystery, and liked the easy, clear style of the writing. The humor is light, and the puns are not so heavy-handed as to be distracting. (Compare this style to the pun-filled query featured on the BookEnds blog last week. Night-day difference, IMO.) Nothing jumped out at me on my initial read, which, for me, is the major test. Nothing, that is, except adding "cozy" to the genre.

On a more critical read, I did wonder whether the log line was adding anything that wasn't summed up in the second paragraph. Maybe combine?

Nan Macomb -- a spunky 35-year-old Nashville hair stylist -- works her cut-and-color magic in a tiny home salon while gabby clients keep her up-to-date on the Music City’s latest hair-raising gossip. Bombarded by one too many anecdotes about her former lover Randy's cheating heart (and other body parts), she barges into the music exec's office only to find him as dead as Elvis, bludgeoned with his own Grammy. Not thinking, she moves the award, leaving her fingerprints all over the heavy statuette -- so it’s no surprise her name heads the suspect list.

In P3, maybe change "hidden" to "safeguarded" or "kept safeguarded".

In P5, maybe add "When an apparent suicide note from Randy surfaces ...".

Otherwise, good to go!

4 comments:

kay Elam said...

Thank you, Phoenix!

Chelsea P. said...

I think you could make the first sentence even more succinct: "Thirty-five-year-old stylist Nan Macomb works her cut-and-color magic . . ."

Otherwise, I totally agree with Phoenix's version of paragraph one and the rest was great. Sounds like a fun story!

Jo-Ann said...

Sounds like a fun, fast paced story.
My only quibble would be that the name "Nan" makes her sound like a grandmother, but maybe that's different in your part of the world.

Kay Elam said...

Thanks for the comments and suggestions, all.

@ Jo-Ann -- FYI Nan is short for Nancy and about half-way through the book it comes out Nan's mother is a Nancy Drew fanatic and named her daughter after this fictional character. :-) Nan hates the name, BTW.