Know when something happens in a book that takes you totally, completely by surprise?
Yeah, I know. It doesn’t happen to me that often either. I mean, sometimes things happen that I think–wow, that’s a good twist. Or, neat idea. Wish I’d thought of that. But rarely am I floored.
And if I am–and I can think of only two instances when this was the case–it’s by the ending. Never the beginning.
(I’m thinking of the second Harry Potter book–Chamber of Secrets and Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier.)
But this book’s twist comes in the first chapter. The prologue, actually.
I picked it up and started reading it while cooking dinner. You know those downtimes you have when you’re waiting on something to come out of the oven or simmer in a pot? Five or ten minutes, perhaps, and if you leave kitchen, burning is the certain result? I’ve taken to standing near the stove with a book in hand in those times. And that’s what I was doing with McCrery’s book. I picked it up, thinking to hop in for a few minutes and then to hop back out (to tend to dinner) but I was so shocked by the prologue I could hardly speak, much less remember to pull those rolls out of the oven.
Now the rest of the book flowed well but wasn’t so surprising. But for an excellent example of how to begin a story with a shocker, you must check this one out.