Guess the Plot
Headless at the House of Tiki
1. Three days before the annual Elks Banquet at the House of Tiki, the head waiter disappears. Can the remaining crew serve the Elks adequately without embarrassing their employer?
2. Private eye Malachi Woombat investigates a series of beheadings at the House of Tiki, a voodoo-themed coffee shop in the French Quarter of Depression-era New Orleans.
3. Tiki Bob just wants to chill out and carve his tikis, but when his ex-girlfriend's headless body turns up in his locked backyard he becomes prime suspect numero uno. Do they even let you have chisels in prison?
4. Homicide detective Lars Sekkin gets called into an abandoned Trader Vic's restaurant to investigate a headless corpse surrounded by tiki statues.
5. Lowly clerk John Bash decides to transform his place of employment, the House of Tiki, from a crap furniture store to a major chain with his new invention, a methane-sucking Energy Chair that burns farts to power a lamp.
6. Yasmin sees Barry for the first time while she's a waitress at a theme restaurant; the second time, as a theme stripper. They hit it off. But how will Barry take it when she tells him that the big tiki mask she wears is her actual head?
I am seeking representation for HEADLESS AT THE HOUSE OF TIKI, an 86,000 word whodunit mystery novel.
Bob MacMillan - dubbed Tiki Bob by his friends, clients, and admirers - has a problem. The body of his ex-girlfriend has turned up under a massive pile of sawdust in his locked backyard, and the local police have given him a new nickname - Prime Suspect Number One. [We don't need to know the backyard was locked. It only leads us to wonder how you can lock a yard. Yes, I'm familiar with fences and walls, but if orcs were smart enough to bring ladders to Helm's Deep . . . ]
Cat O'Donnell, total surfer chick and possessor of a third degree black belt in kung-fu, investigates insurance fraud, not murder. When Bob's teen-age daughter pleads for Cat's help in protecting her father from what the girl believes may be a lengthy prison sentence unless the real killer is unmasked, Cat can't resist the plea. She's been in a bit of a rut lately and welcomes the chance for a change. [I know nothing gets me out of a rut like inserting myself into a murder investigation.] So, the fraud investigator delves into the Pacific Groves' tiki culture where she encounters the tattooed, cocktail-sipping, burlesque-loving crowd of her Southern California beach town.
But Cat's not sure if she's up to the task. She's quite adept at exposing supposed car accident victims attempting to bilk insurance companies of large money payouts for fake injuries. It's quite another matter to find a murderer who's doing his or her best not to be found. [This paragraph can go; I already inferred everything in it.]
Tha [The] main suspects are colorful: a contestant for the local Tiki Queen title who owns a mobile dog grooming service; a perpetually stoned surfer with a history of anger issues; a fantasy/erotica author posing as a textbook writer; his drunken ex-softball-champion wife; and the victim's sommelier boyfriend who denies any romantic relationship with the now headless girl. [I'm more interested in why these people are suspects than in these tidbits you're providing about them. For instance I'd prefer: A contestant for the local Tiki Queen title who may have wanted to eliminate her top competition; a married erotica author with whom the victim was having a torrid affair; the author's wife, of course; and the victim's sommelier boyfriend, whom she'd threatened to expose as a Thunderbird junkie.] Not to mention Bob himself, who doesn't seem to understand his own precarious position. He just want to be left alone to carve some bitchin' tikis.
Cat also contends with an old friend who wants to be more, a good detective with a bad attitude, and a district attorney who's determined to add another conviction to his record, with or without all the facts on his side.
What's a girl have to do to keep a good man out of prison? In this case, it may come down to an old-fashioned ass-kicking, and, if Cat has anything to say about it, she'll be on the foot end of the spanking. [Not clear whose ass Cat plans to kick or spank or why she thinks it'll come down to an ass-kicking or a spanking. Usually these things come down to figuring out whodunnit, not spanking a confession out of someone.]
Thank you for your time and consideration,
If this is a one and done project, okay, but if Cat is going to appear in future books, assuming this one sells, you might want to open the query with Cat rather than Bob. Something like:
Surfer chick Cat O'Donnell investigates insurance fraud in Pacific Groves, a Southern California beach town. But when a teenage girl pleads for Cat's help solving a murder in which the girl's father, Robert "Tiki Bob" MacMillan, is the chief suspect, Cat can't resist. She's been in a bit of a rut lately and could use a change.
If Cat knows Tiki Bob or the daughter, their relationship could be mentioned there as well. If she doesn't know either of them, why is the daughter going to Cat for help?
I know "headless" is in the title, but maybe the victim's "headless body" should turn up under the sawdust. Otherwise we don't know if anyone is literally headless until the query is almost over and you say, Oh, did I mention the victim had no head?
If you use something like the above opening, you could continue:
The murder victim, who was Tiki Bob's ex-girlfriend, turned up under a massive pile of sawdust in Bob's backyard. Missing her head. Now Cat's on the prowl for anyone else who had a motive for the murder. And there's no shortage.
That pretty much eliminates the need for your opening paragraph about Bob, and leads into your suspect list. Possibly that's enough condensing and deleting so that this is now standard query length.
The drunken ex-softball-champion wife did it, but don't worry, most agents won't have my deductive skills.