Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Guess the Plot
Murder in the Cards
1. In a suspense-filled Pokemon game, 9-year-old Sammy realizes that 8-year-old Jeff has the rare Dark Pikachu that he's wanted for months. Now Sammy must decide how far he's willing to go to complete his deck.
2. Fake psychic Lorna Lipschitz gets a tarot card reading gig at the wedding of her ex-fiance, Jack Ready. But it doesn't take a psychic to see something is very wrong when Jack's new wife is found dead with the Death card stapled to her bludgeoned forehead. Can Lorna clear herself of suspicion and rekindle the fire with Jack? Or will the hunky homicide detective give her a different fortune?
3. Madame Moodra knew her part: deal the Burning Tower to Professor Green and tell him his wife is dancing in Vegas with gym rat Todd Sparks. But whoa! Violent reaction! Good thing Moodra's pistol was loaded. Although now that Green is dead and her cards are all bloody, she's wondering -- was it all a set-up?
4. Geraldine Plick is the reigning canasta player at the Sunset Manor Retirement Home until a challenge from newcomer Betty Drupe leaves her doubting her abilities. When Betty is found dead in the hydrangeas, it's up to Geraldine to find the murderer before she lands in a freecell.
5. Dulci Ash is on the trail of a killer. A Machiavellian medicine man and an octogenarian madman are her chief suspects, but the authorities have arrested songwriter Josh Burnett. Can Dulci use her psychic abilities to clear Josh, or is a murder conviction . . . in the cards?
6. Alice never expected to see poor Jack lying dead outside the little house. When the Queen arrives and orders Alice beheaded for the murder, Alice's only chance at proving her innocence lies in a magical mushroom, a taciturn lobster, and an unfortunate lizard named Bill. Also, a white rabbit.
I have recently completed a 100,000 word regional mystery novel set in and around the White Mountain Apache Reservation, titled Murder in the Cards. The story combines historical events from the late 1800s with a recent murder that propels part-time psychic and full-time single mom Dulci Ash reluctantly out of her shell and onto the trail of a supernatural killer in the White Mountains of Arizona. [A wordy opening; eliminate the word "regional," since you tell us the region, eliminate the setting in the second sentence, as we already have it, and eliminate "reluctantly," which is assumed of anyone in a shell. Do we need to know she's a single mom in the query?]
Along with way, she meets Josh Burnett, the all too human singer/songwriter who is accused of the crime, [Look Josh, I'm not saying I want to date a monster or a space alien; but you . . . you're just a little . . . too human.] his father Vince Burnett, an Apache medicine man who's Machiavellian politics make the prince look like a dabbler, [Which explains why cunning, unscrupulous politicians who were once called Machiavellian are now described as "a little like Vince."] and a pumped-up octogenarian madman [, Jack LaLanne,] who has been possessed by the spirit of Coyote, the Native American trickster and meddler.
Historical elements of the story center around the fictionalized account of a famous Apache Medicine Man, Goyani (Apache for The Wise One), [And whose letters can be used to spell "yin," "yang," "yogi," and "Nagy."] ["Nagy"? I include "Nagy" only to explain why I was suddenly reminded of the incident with my Jon Nagy art kit, which included a clear plastic sheet that you put over your television screen so that you could learn to draw like Jon Nagy. One Saturday morning I forgot to put the plastic on the TV, and drew all over the actual screen. Turned out the crayon wiped off the plastic sheet much more easily than off the TV. Mom was not amused. But enough about me.] who was apprehended by local soldiers for inciting an insurrection among the Apache people. Goyani had promised to resurrect four dead Apache War Chiefs to lead the people. [I was about to say, If the best leaders you can come up with are four dead guys, you're in trouble. Then I realized how much better off we'd be today if we had elected the Marx Brothers.] A terrible battle ensued between the soldiers who had come to arrest him and the people of Cibecue, which is widely recognized as the last major battle of the Indian Wars. Goyani ended up being murdered, hands tied behind his back, during the fight. No one knows how history might have changed if he had remained alive long enough to complete the resurrection ceremony. [For starters, the Washington Redskins would be known as the Washington Aryans; the Cleveland Indians would be the Cleveland Crackers; and the Florida State Seminoles would be the Florida State Rhythmless White Guys.]
I have worked as a psychologist on the Apache Reservation for approximately eight years, and am able to combine a thorough understanding of modern Apache culture with fastidious historical research – I worked in the editorial department of a weekly newspaper in Detroit for nearly 10 years before deciding to return to school for my PhD.
I would be glad to send you sample chapters or the full manuscript on your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.
If this is Dulci's story, we need to know what happens to her. All we get is that she's after a killer. There's more of Goyani's story here than Dulci's, and while I have no doubt that Goyani's story is told in the book, this is a present-day murder mystery, so concentrate on the present-day plot. Who's dead? Who had motive? Why is Josh locked up? Why is Dulci involved?