Mar 25, 2009

QUERY: EDEN'S KILLERS

Dear Agent,

In the city of Eden Island, there are only three types of people: pedestrians, assassins, and the men who hire the assassins. Rita Jennison is an assassin. One of the best in a city divided in two by rivaling families.

Rita knows that there are five rules to being a hired killer, but when her daughter’s school bus is caught in-between a crossfire, she decides that she has to break one of these rules to protect her daughter. The consequence for breaking a rule: death. Her actions cause the six assassin companies to send their best killer after her, each one more deadly than the next. With her daughter in hand, Rita must escape the very city she was born in before it becomes her grave.

EDEN’S KILLERS is a 140,000 word novel.

0 Prelude to a Death

The bullets entered Rita like the fangs of a snake into a rat. She had watched the act of nature many times before on T.V and not once did she feel sympathy for the rat. Not once! Instead, she figured that’s the way things go and how they happen. Now, though, she felt sympathy for the rat. She now knew how it felt to have the snake’s fangs digging deep into her stomach.

Rita collapsed to knees, clutching her stomach. She could feel the blood trickle down through the cracks in her fingers, and she clutched tighter, thinking that somehow the bleeding would magically stop. It wasn’t stopping. She could still feel it. As she closed her eyes, she could feel the tears fall, and she opened them just in time to watch them splash against the park grass below her. It was the first time she had ever cried, and it was beautiful. They were little droplets of life, her life, escaping from her body, and as they splashed against the cold earth, they disappeared into the soil, as if they were dying with her right then and there.

Someone was coming. Rita could hear the grass crunch beneath slow moving footsteps. Her breaths began to quicken, a hurricane of wind passing through her lips and melding with the night air. It was beautiful, and it hurt. Every breath felt as if it was pushing the bullet deeper and deeper into her stomach, like some deranged acupuncture. A pair of black shoes stopped right under her eyes, looking proud to be standing where she was dying.

“It’s a beautiful night, isn’t it?” a man’s voice said peacefully, yet sounding tired and raspy. “There aren’t many nights like this. You picked a goodnight to die.” He reached down and cupped her chin and lifted her head up, showing her the sky above where stars glittered against the black backdrop.

He was right: it was an amazing fall night. He bent down to get a better look at her, a few tears trying to escape her eyes before it was too late. The man’s brown eyes were barely visible under the covers of the night. But she was well acquainted with him and his eyes. A coconut aroma wafted of his hand.

“Your hand smells good.”“You simply amaze me, Rita. Even when you’re dying, you’re still observant.”Rita laughed. Not observant enough, she told herself. The pain in her stomach immediately came back. “Well, Marshall,” she said, wincing at the pain, “aren’t you going to kill me?”

Marshall ran his hand through her black hair, admiring the beauty of his kill. Rita looked up and stared. Her killer was handsome, and in some strange, twisted way that sounded romantic to her. Rita took her hand away from her stomach and touched the side of his face, leaving strawberry colored fingerprints on his face. With his other hand, he took Rita’s hand—caringly, not threateningly—and placed it back over her wound.

Standing up, Marshall looked away from her and reached into his coat and pulled out his Browning Hi-Powered pistol. But for the brief second he turned away, Rita made her move. She reached into her coat and pulled out her pistol. She pulled her coat across her body and pressed the barrel of her pistol against the inside of her coat.

The barrel of his gun lined up between her eyes, causing her to go cross-eyed for a brief second as her eyes searched in the darkness for the metal pill inside. She kept her finger on the trigger, waiting for the right moment to pull it.

“I’m sorry, Rita,” Marshall said. “I hope you’re not mad, but it’s just business. You know that. If it were me, I would want you to be my killer.”

Rita smiled. “I know. I’m glad it’s you.”

“Me too,” he replied. “But in the end, one of us has to go.”

“You’re right. One of us has to go.”

Then there was loud crack! and a brief flash of light illuminated a small part of the fall night.

7 comments:

splatter said...

honestly, this feels a bit too short. For instance, saying that she broke one of five rules is a bit too vague. Tell me either what those five rules are, or specifically what rule she broke.

You also have, for lack of a better way to put it, a lot of numbering going on in here: three types of people, two rival families, five rules, six assassin companies... it was a bit overwhelming in the short space.

Finally, I think the line "each more deadly than the last" is a bit cliche and is likely a turn off to an editor. I'd cut it for that reason.

All in all, I think you're giving us a lot of information, but not much actual detail to sink our teeth into. I hope that makes sense!

Amanda said...

What genre is this? The city full of assassins thing makes me think fantasy, but then the school bus breaks that. (and if the city has only assassins, pedestrians and guys who are hiring assassins, who are the assassins supposed to assassinate?)
Also, I think it's either "caught in the crossfire" or "caught between killers" or something.
I agree with the above poster, I think it's a bit short.
Otherwise, you seem to have a really cool premise.

lucy in the sky said...

I agree that if you don't mention the five rules you should at least say which one was broken. More info about why the school bus incident leads her to break the rules would help. My first thought was why do people have their families here? I'm sure the story explains that, but then I have to wonder why any civilians in this area being caught in the crossfire would be noteworthy.

And I really like your opening sentence.

Abby said...

You have a good opening and this sounds like an interesting story, but I agree that it seems a bit short and could use a little more detail.

The sentence, "Her actions cause the six assassin companies to send their best killer after her" is a little confusing. It sounds like there's only one killer, which is contradicted by the next line "each one more deadly than the next." And, as has been said before, that last line is a bit of a cliche.

Also, there are a few typos in the first few pages of your manuscript.

Second paragraph: Rita collapsed to (her) knees, clutching her stomach.

Fourth paragraph: You picked a goodnight to die. (Good night should be two words here.)

Fifth paragraph: He was right:(This should be a period. 'He was right. It was...') it was an amazing fall night. He bent down to get a better look at her, a few tears trying to escape her eyes before it was too late. (This sentence feels awkward to me. Breaking it up may help: 'He bent down to get a better look at her. A few tears tried to escape...' Or adding the conjunction 'and' and again changing 'trying' to 'tried'. You could probably just scratch the last section, 'a few tears trying to escape her eyes before it was too late' and it wouldn't affect what you're trying to convey here.) The man’s brown eyes were barely visible under the covers of the night. But she was well acquainted with him and his eyes. A coconut aroma wafted of (should be 'off') his hand.

My only other suggestion would be to go over your manuscript again (and again if necessary) and try to eliminate any superfluous phrasing and anything that isn't necessary for the advancement of the plot. At 140K, your word count may hinder your ability to get an agent. Even for fantasy, I think this is a bit high in today's market.

All in all, I think you have a great premise here. I hope this helps.

Marilynn Byerly said...

I agree with the confusion of too much information with the numbers.

You also combine things like a school bus and names we hear every day with a supposedly fantasy world.

A 140,000 word novel is WAY to long for a first novel. You'd have a better chance to sell it at 100,000.

Marissa Miranda said...

As splatter said, "Tell me either what those five rules are, or specifically what rule she broke."

Other than that, the query was short, to the point, and catchy, though it could use a few touch-ups the other commentors mentioned.

The one thing that really, really jumped out at me was the word count. 100k is reasonable for a first book. 140k is not. You may want to revise the book to bring the word count down to, at most, 110k. It will make selling it to an agent much easier. =)

Jan said...

I thought this was short and to the point. I don't need to know what rule she broke. Just the fact that her breaking a rule puts her and the daughter in danger, explains it for me.
Rita is an assassin on the run, trying to protect herself and her daughter.
Maybe clarify a few of the dangers from the other assassin? Bullets? poison?
Her actions cause the six assassin companies to send their best killer after her, each one more deadly than the next. Dodging bullets,avoiding blah blah, with her daughter in hand, Rita must escape the very city she was born in before it becomes her grave.

I think this is a very good query.