Sep 1, 2010

QUERY - SUB ROSA (First Revision)

Click here to read the original query.

The dinner party didn’t turn out the way Aemilius Valerius expected. He didn’t expect a place at the main table. He didn’t expect to drink that much. He didn’t expect to hook up with one of the scarier dancers. And he certainly didn’t expect to trip over the bloody corpse of his host on the floor of the informal dining room.

Rome, 58 AD. Valerius is back from the army. He is young, wealthy and has a pedigree stretching back to the founding of Rome, but unless he can get a job offer soon he’ll never have the career expected of a man of his rank.

One man’s grisly murder, it turns out, is another man’s opportunity. Valerius finds himself working with the investigator Atreus, a plebeian with a chip on his shoulder, to discover the killer. Mad Uncle Maro promised it would be a smart career move, but that was before a second senator turned up dead. Now everything points towards a corrupt legion, an imperial assassin, and the emperor Nero’s mother Agrippina. It might have been smarter to accept that honorary priesthood, stupid hat or not.

There are the added complications of an ex-brother-in-law who fell on his sword, a slum gangster who wants Atreus dead, political pressures, class divisions, and Valerius’ ongoing domestic hassles with his wife, sister, stepdaughter and assorted slaves.

Sub Rosa, a historical mystery, is complete at 129 000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

6 comments:

Zee Lemke said...

Second paragraph doesn't go there. Skip right to P3S1, then put in P2S2 (of course replacing "He" with "Valerius" and correcting the parallel structure). No one in a query should ever "find himself" doing anything. Too passive. Maybe even leave out Atreus--he's a side plot. Just give us Valerius taking up investigating as a profession. Still love the stupid hat.

Not sure what the fourth paragraph should be, but I don't think this is it. Maybe it would be a good place to put the year back in? But then, if we already know Nero is emperor, we might not need it.

This query is still quite strong and the book sounds pretty awesome too.

Anonymous Author said...

This reads much more smoothly, but I'd lose the second paragraph. It's just backstory.

Suzan Harden said...

Got to agree with the other folks. Drop Paragraphs 2 and 4. Change Sentence 2 in Paragraph 3 to make it more active.

With that, I think you're ready to submit. Might I suggest Kim Lionetti at BookEnds, LLC, as a person to submit to? She likes humorous mysteries.

Break a leg!

Terri Nixon said...

I love the sound of this, it sounds lively, imaginative and a good, solid read. I'd suggest perhaps dropping a couple of unnecessary names, like Maro and Agrippina; you can get away with just saying 'mad uncle' and 'Nero's mother' here since you're not referring to them by name later on.

Excellent, and good luck with it!

Mesmerix said...

This is so full of voice and intrigue, I want to read!

Criticism:

1) Cut P2 completely, as has been said. It's backstory and can be dropped. You don't even need the year so long as you talk about Nero, which will give us a time reference.

2) Cut down on the names. "Atreus" can be dropped, just call him the invesitgator with a chip on his shoulder. I sort of like the "Mad Uncle Maro" name as it also gives voice, but you can cut "Agrippina."

3) Cut P4 completely. If you want to talk more about Valerius and his character, you can do that, but P4 is not the way to go as it just adds back in the subplots you don't need. Once you cut P2&P4, you'll be able to put in a couple sentences to characterize Valerius, but be sparing!

I think what you have is great. You don't really need anything more than P1, P3 & P5. It's like a 1-2 punch with a closer.

I'd read it.

Jen said...

Once again, guys, thanks for all your help! This is a great site, and once I know what I'm doing I'll definitely be commenting on other submissions. Meanwhile, I'll work on my query and get back to you.

And thanks, Suzan, Kim Lionetti is on the list for when it's time to send it out.