Dec 23, 2009

Query - Fallen Knight (1st Revision)

Click here to read the original query.

Dear Ms. Agent,

My 105,000 word mystery/thriller, FALLEN KNIGHT, fits the mold of material you’re in search of and I’m excited at the possibility of you representing me.

In 1984, the largest bioterrorism attack documented in US history took place in the Pacific Northwest. More than 750 residents were sickened in this barely publicized incident, fortunately there were no fatalities. But somebody did take notice and now believes they can do better. When Lee Hamilton answers an early morning call asking for help tracking down the person responsible for a vicious attack of a close friend, little does he realize that he’ll come face to face with the individual determined to make that event happen.

Lee is a middle-aged human resource manager from a small southern town. He’s also one of six college friends who in their hey-day were labeled ‘The Knights Who Say Ni’. Lee’s troubles begin when he rallies the other knights to assist Dianne Williams, the manager of the detective agency where their stricken friend works, to search for the assailant. The trail leads them to a six-month old deadly high school shooting sixty miles outside the nation’s capital. There they discover the authorities have been suppressing facts about the young shooter, like a note found on his body hinting of plans to cause further misery. Although the knight’s methods are unconventional, when a cryptic series of numbers link several other crimes to the boy, it pulls the covers back on an unbelievable plot.

In over their heads with the boundaries of the knight’s friendship tested, they must scramble to avoid arrest by a suspicious police detective and the FBI. Racing to unravel the scheme before it’s too late; ironically they come to personify the grand chivalrous behavior their nick-name once proudly stood for. At stake if they fail, the unleashing of a lethal biological agent on the streets of Washington DC.

Thank you, Ms. Agent, for your consideration of this query. At your request, I will be happy to send along the complete manuscript.


Sincerely,
DL Hammons

7 comments:

Lt. Cccyxx said...

DL: I like this version better. There are still a few little spelling/grammar issues you should fix. Other comments:

-In the second paragraph, could you find another phrase to substitute for "do better"? "Better" = killing more people is odd.

-In the third paragraph, I am honestly not sure you gain anything by mentioning Dianne Williams, at least not be name, since that's the only time she comes up and we don't really learn much about her.

-Very helpful to include discovery that authorities are suppressing information.

-This whole thing is problematic:
"Although the knight’s methods are unconventional, when a cryptic series of numbers..." First, you might want to capitalize Knights. Second, the possessive is wrong. And third, both "methods are unconventional" and "cryptic series of numbers" are extremely vague.

-Fourth paragraph: you don't need "by a suspicious police detective and the FBI."

-I don't understand why their behavior is ironic. If you explained earlier why they were called The Knights, it might make more sense.

Hope this is helpful.

Rick Daley said...

It sounds like a story I could enjoy, but I think the query still needs clarification. The way the plot is described it leaves many questions and potential holes:

- In the first paragraph you move from past to present tense. How long in the past was the 1984 attack?

- "the largest bioterrorism attack documented..." seems to be at odds with "barely publicized..." It was documented, someone knows about it, so who suppressed the info and why?

- Somebody did take notice...they can do better you move from singular to plural, is this an individual or a group?

- Is the stricken friend another knight?

- facts about the young shooter, like a note found on his body this makes me think the young shooter is dead. If not, he would be incarcerated. Unless "his body" is the victim and not the shooter, but there is no mention of another person to attribute the pronoun "his" to in this sentence.

- Although the knight’s methods are unconventional, when a cryptic series of numbers link several other crimes to the boy, it pulls the covers back on an unbelievable plot. What makes their methods unconventional? The first clause is a dangling modifier, it is seemingly unrelated to the rest of the sentence.

- Racing to unravel the scheme before it’s too late; ironically they come to personify the grand chivalrous behavior their nick-name once proudly stood for. The semi-colon is used incorrectly here, it should come after a complete sentence and this starts with a fragment. I also don't see the irony; you would expect a knight to be chivalrous, and irony would be if they did the opposite of what you expect. You can twist it to spin off the goofy nature of the Python knights, where your group of protags are actually chivalrous and not just out to arrange shrubberies and cut down the mightiest tree in the forest with...a herring.

A final comment on the genre selection. Mystery and Thriller are typically viewed differently. Suspense and Thriller are more often paired. This page has a good overview of different genres:

http://www.agentquery.com/genre_descriptions.aspx

Good luck!

MitMoi said...

And it is "hay day" ... as in a day to cut hay (because of good weather), not "hey day" ... as in a greeting. "Hey, Day! How'd it go?"

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's "heyday" (one word), a period of great success, popularity, or vigor.

DL Hammons said...

I cannot recall the last time I've been this frustrated.

I swear to you that there are more grammatical errors in this letter than there are in the entirety of my novel. I just can't seem to make it sound natural. The whole things a dangling modifier. ARGH!!

Okay, enough spewing, down to the nuts and bolts. I'm going to make this thing work!

Lt. Cccyxx, better does = killing more people (in the villains twisted mind).

I see your point about Dianne Williams, but the problem she's 40% of the book and I also want to curry the favor of those agents who seek strong female characters (which she is). Any suggestions about how to handle that?

Third paragrapgh, I agree with your suggestions.

About their behavior as Knights. Ironic may not be the right word here. As college students they were given the label because of their mischievous antics. Now as adults, their actions throughout the book exemplify the true personna of knights. A nickname that was so off-handily given to them, ends up being prothetic. Any suggestions on how I can weave that thread in would be much appreciated.

Rick,
The events of the book are present time, 25 years after the original bio-terrorism. Very little news coverage was devoted to this true-life event (Google 'Rajneeshee'). It wasn't suppressed, just under the radar.

Singular to plural noted. One mastermind + one cohort. I need to keep it gender-neutral though.

The stricken friend is a knight.

The shooter is dead, committing suicide at the end of his rampage. I'll clear that up.

Unconventional = amateurish, illegal, blackmail, and lucky.

I agree after reading the link you posted. This is closer to a Mystery/Suspense.

Heyday it is.

Thanks all.

jasonamyers said...

So the person who is going to do the new bio-terrorism is one of the Knights? I only ask because your title is Fallen Knight, so I can only assume this...of course, I'm probably wrong! Does the title give away the mystery?!@

DL Hammons said...

Jason,

The title has a dual meaning. Primarily for the knight who is beaten, he sets everything in motion. But there is also a secondary character who it also refers to as well.

DL