Sunday, November 20, 2016

Book Openers Revisited ~ PART TWO...

There’s a lot of history behind this opening scene.  It began in the first book in P. D. James's Cordelia Gray series, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman.  In the opening of that book Cordelia Gray worked as an assistant–turned intern–to a private investigator.  Yet, stepping into his office in that book's opening, she had the misfortune of finding her boss's body.  His death was a suicide, and one with a good-bye letter passing his business on to Cordelia.  
Already an awkward character stuck in a financial crunch; Cordelia wavered on his final request.  Eventually she made the decision to take over his business–just as he trained and legally prepared her.  Fast-forward to this book where Cordelia is completely on her own, and still a little uncomfortable with her new career path.  
So I love the self-conscious reflections seen through a nameplate.  Among other slices of imagery, of course.  To me this opening continues to make Cordelia's character human.  She's uncertain.  Juggling her confidence as an investigator.  However, she recognizes she's already on the path and have to step up to the plate.
Pun intended.
Sadly, there was never a book three.  A TV series featuring a pregnant Cordelia Gray shut James's vigor for writing this character down.

I’m going to keep this extremely simply by saying: if you haven’t read Butler’s Patternist series, then I FEEL for you!

It’s on repeat how much I hold this short-lived series up as one of the best in urban fantasies.  It was highly underrated during its 2009-2012 four-book publishing period.  Nevertheless, this opening paragraph from the third book sums up the protagonist so well.  She was a character who stayed busy solving mysteries and saving the world, while consorting with all manner of supernatural creatures.  She went after demi-gods.  She went after witches.  She kept furies as bodyguards.  She jumped through portals.  Her best friend was just human, and in need of her protection at times.  She had family.
Benedict's blend of occult, mythology, and so many other imaginative things was unforgettable.  
However, the series' greatest achievement was that it didn't rely on a love triangle and sex.  Bonus: the protagonist was the descendant of Adam's first wife, Lilith.  This made spells thrown her way ineffective.  An advantage, sure.  But really, she just wanted to pay her bills on time and not owe anyone a dime.  
The series had so, so much to offer.  And I still am sadden that it never got a fifth book before ending.

Tamara Hayle is one of the few black female fictional private-eyes out there.  And nothing is more illustrating of her character and profession than this opening passage in The Devil Riding.  She’s undercover as a bartender serving drinks to Jersey gangsters.  And that's all you know right off the bat.  There is absolutely no set-up whatsoever as to what, how, and why Tamara is undercover.  Still, considering she is fearing for her life, you just know there is something juicy to unravel as the scene progresses.

This opening is considered the "drop in the middle" technique.  And Wesley reels you along with this humbled and witty black private-eye to unfold the mystery behind this mystery!

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