Mar 12, 2009

Query: Just Cause

When Katherine's son is mutilated and killed in the exact same manner as her brother, she becomes convinced that the perpetrator is the same man. She goes to the authorities, but even with new evidence, the killer continues to elude police.

Her search for answers puts her in contact with Jon, who presents damning evidence that the man who killed her son and brother and the man responsible for his daughter’s suicide are part of a network of pedophiles called The Convent. Unwilling to trust a system that has failed her twice, she bypasses the police and vows to help Jon stop The Convent before they hurt more children.

Together, Katherine and Jon stalk and gun down members of the group. But when their thirst for retribution lands them on the FBI's Most Wanted list, they must stay one step ahead of a tenacious lawman out to stop them. With the help of a few sympathizers they manage to outsmart the FBI but soon they find out that a member of The Convent is on their trail and looking for a little revenge of his own. If the FBI agent doesn’t catch Katherine and Jon, they stand the chance of losing their lives to one of the very men they are hunting.

14 comments:

Rick Daley said...

I've seen this query before, and I think it's getting better each time.

One thing you left out here that you included in earlier versions is the fact that her brother was killed many years ago. I think that is important.

Think about changing "mutilated" to "abducted."

The way I read the last sentence, it seems it is up to the FBI agent to save them from the Convent member.

Read through the comments on the query for CONTROL ISSUES posted here. There's an interesting discussion about starting with a hook, which can usually be distilled from the climax.

Something like this for a first line: When your child is abducted and murdered, it's never too late for revenge.

or:

When the law failed Katherine twice, she took it upon herself to act as judge, jury - and executioner.

Something hooky. These may be a little over the top, but they are slightly exaggerated to illustrate the point.

Anette J Kres said...

Hey, I recognize this one!

You know, the old version had less detail than this one, but it was snappier and caught my attention better. This one just seems to meander on.

Crimogenic said...

Rick, I read the discussion on the Control Issue query and while I think starting with something hooky is okay for some queries, there are many successful queries taht don't follow that formula at all. Who knows though, it doesn't hurt to try it that way.

Anette,

I liked the old version better too, but evil editor said that there were too many details left out and he didn't feel drawn into the story.

Crimogenic said...

Oh, and here's the older version in case anyone wants to see it.

How can I take this older version, which admittedly I like better and make it more... um, more something :)


I’m seeking representation for my 98,000 word crime novel, JUST CAUSE.

After discovering chilling similarities between her son’s brutal murder and her brother’s unsolved slaying twenty-five years earlier, Katherine Rice sets out to uncover the truth. But the search for answers puts her in danger when she learns the killer is part of a network of pedophiles called The Convent.

Unwilling to trust the justice system that has failed her twice, she vows to stop The Convent before they hurt more children. With the help of another parent who also lost a child to The Convent, she eradicates members of the group. But when Katherine’s thirst for retribution lands her on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, she must stay one step ahead of a tenacious lawman out to stop her. With the help of a few sympathizers she manages to outsmart the FBI, but unbeknownst to her, the leader of The Convent is on her trail and looking for a little revenge of his own.

Carley said...

I've seen this one before too, and I liked the voice of the old one better. It has more intesity than this one does.

I agree with Rick, you need a hook that is in tone with the pace of the book. It should be as intense as your story, so you get a feel for the book. (I'm assuming it's intense anyway)

As it is the query sort of drags on, while I'm guessing the book is meant to be a fast pace murder mystery type book. So, you see the problem, I'm only able to guess what the book is, and I think a query should tell you that in no uncertain terms.

You are getting closer, just try not to think so much about it. (aren't I the pot calling the kettle black!) I can't wait to see the revision. Good luck!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

I kind of like the first paragraph of your old query better, but the 2nd and 3rd of the new one. I think it is the addition of the 25 years ago detail and also that in the original version the first sentence has Katherine more active - instead of "become convinced" she "sets out to discover the truth".

Overall, though this sounds like a really cool story. I like the way she becomes caught between the FBI and the Convent.

Bane of Anubis said...

Hey Rick - great idea - and kudos to you for the time and effort.

C - I like your 1st version better, too... I think the hook in your 1st is better, but I'd like the 2nd sentence to be a little more oomphy (not sure how) - though, I think, as is, it works.

I'm not sure if you are trying to condense the 1st version at all, but I did a bit (removed the Jon ref) - also, if you need more details, you might want to add small refs that show more than tell or at least provide some backdrop (e.g., Kath travels the Louisiana backwoods to avoid the diligent federal agent tracking her), though done w/ minimal wordage and discretion (fun, right :).

Anyway, take these suggestions w/ a grain of salt... as we all know, individual tastes vary and all that jazz :)

After discovering chilling similarities between her son’s brutal murder and her brother’s unsolved slaying twenty-five years earlier, Katherine Rice sets out to uncover the truth. But the search for answers puts her in danger when she learns the killer is part of a network of pedophiles called The Convent.

Unwilling to trust the justice system that failed her twice, she vows to eradicate The Convent before they hurt more children. When Katherine’s thirst for retribution lands her on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, she [does something that shows how she's staying one step ahead, barely avoiding capture or somehow provides setting while incorporating her eluding of the FBI]. Unbeknownst to her, a more sinister threat stalks her; the leader of The Convent is on her trail and looking for a little revenge of his own.

Rick Daley said...

Bane,

Thanks for the compliment, and thanks for stopping by to share you opinion.

I launched this a week ago, and so far so good. I've seen a ton a great feedback posted. It's working like I hoped. Now I'm just curious to see if it will take off and swamp me.

Crimogenic said...

Okay, seems like most people like the older version so I will try to rework that one. :), thanks everyone for your help so far.. and especially Rick for this great blog

Rick Daley said...

I'm glad you like it!

I need continued help promoting it. Thanks for all you've done so far.

Anonymous said...

I am by know means good at writing query letters, but I agree with Carly. It seems to need more tension, which I think can be done with less words. Your important words are getting buried with two many unnessary ones, I think.

Katherine's son is mutilated and killed in the exact same manner as her brother.Convinced that the perpetrator is the same man....

IMO words like...when & she becomes are diluting the strength of the letter, although I could be wrong. I think less is more in a case of something that needs to be tense. IDK I may be totally wrong.

Jabez said...

I'm afraid I don't really understand what's going on with The Convent in this query. It calls them "a network of pedophiles," but none of the crimes its members commit are described as involving any sexual element. And even if there is a sexual element to all the crimes, and you just didn't mention that, if The Convent members routinely kill their victims, that would make them pedophile serial killers, not just pedophiles, no? So I think there's a disconnect between your description of the crimes and your description of The Convent.

In addition, and I realize there's a limit to how much of this kind of detail can go into a query letter, but I'm left wondering: Why a network of pedophiles? Pedophiles are often depicted as loners. Why would they join a network? How would such a network work? Basically, I just think that since a pedophilic killer network is such an outside-the-box concept, it would help to give some more hint in the query of what the nature of the group is.

In a related point, you mention that after Katherine and Jon stalk and gun down some members of The Convent, one of the members starts stalking them, "looking for a little revenge of his own." This phrase struck me as a bit odd. I can see one of the members feeling threatened by Katherine and Jon, but to say he's motivated by revenge implies that he's got some kind of love or affection for the members Katherine and Jon have killed. That doesn't seem to fit the traditional pedophile/serial killer profile. But again, I'm not really sure what kind of organization this Convent is, so maybe the reasoning is clear in the book.

Mira said...

Cimogenic

I'm going to fall on the bandwagon. I like the first version much better. I actually think you're very close.

I think there's only one detail I'd include from the second version. The romance. At least, I assume there's romance between the two people tracking the Covenent.

Throw in the sex. Sex sells. Definitely throw in the sex. :-)

Assuming there is sex.

Good luck! Sounds like an exciting book.

Anonymous said...

Since this query has been around the block a while, I'd like to know a little history. How has the agent community received it? Have you had requests for partials or fulls?