FIRST PAGES OF MY NOVEL "MURDER UNMASKED" please give me some feedback.

MURDER UNMASKED   L TAYLOR                     Copyright L Taylor2018

She arrived on the coach in good time and soon found her way to the B and B booked over a year ago. Whitby was popular all year round now and it was getting even harder to book anywhere during the Gothic Week festival.

It didn’t take long to unpack her small valise and the landlady had offered an iron and ironing board for her outfit which naturally had creased during the journey from Sussex. She had smiled knowingly at her offer.

She hung the black hooded cloak on the first available hanger, then her black chiffon dress with sequins and red ribbons sewn so strategically at shoulders, elbow and hemline. Maybe the creases would drop out a little as this October was a mild one and the room small and stuffy.

Sitting at the 40’s style dressing table, with its wooden back to the window, she gazed out onto the narrow streets. This upper room overlooked the red roofed houses that snuggled, shoulder to shoulder, winding their bodies down along the narrow lanes.

 

First she applied the face cream, then the white powder. Next she took out her kohl crayons and with a steady, experienced hand drew boldly around her eyes, letting drawn eyelashes wander elongated down both cheek bones, and then drew upper lashes to touch her chalk white brow.

She smiled to herself as she added orange from her paint box to cover her real eyebrows to create comically curved new ones. Next she put on the long, wavy black wig. The soft velvet hat would be pinned on top.

Scarlet red lip paint enlarged her pale thin lips six fold. She sat back and stared at this new image. She would blend easily in the crowd and follow them to the chosen pub that evening. He would be there, downing a pint or so after his performance.

Taking her silver neck chains and jangling bracelets out of her hold-all, she placed them neatly on the dresser and tried the effect of the chains over the hanging dress. She had brought an enormous crucifix with a chain long enough to cover the red bodice and that would go on last thing. It was looking good.

Now she was almost ready. Almost ready to join the crowd, her cunning plan buzzing in her head. She smiled at her image in the mirror and taking out those talon-like plastic nails, checked that the black varnish had not chipped. They would fix last thing.

She had arrived. It would work. She could not fail. She slipped the special sheathed knife down the side of her laced leather boot.

She edged her way forcibly to the front of the crowd and watched him up on the platform as he gyrated to his own music like one possessed. She could not see his contorted face as he lowered his head to sing, his voice still deep and husky. His ginger hair hung darkened at the tips with perspiration, his washed out blue jeans hung from his narrow hips and small, flat buttocks. He had not changed a bit. His sort didn’t, couldn’t and for that reason she was even surer of what had to be done.

She watched the crowd swaying, sitting down, lying on the dampening grass; observed how the drug pushers brushed their tightly clutched hands against an open, eager hand, recognising this scene only too well. Glastonbury was just the same.

As he bowed to their applause, she crept behind the platform No one noticed her particularly, she looked as grotesque as all the rest and wasn’t she just another admirer of his, another groupie keen for a ’quickie’ if he wanted it. But he had moved off as she anticipated, heading for the pub.

She drew the thin, surgical knife wrapped in leather and tested it against a fallen branch. It was sharper than any razor and would quicken the deed: a wonderful find from a set for sale on the Portobello Road.

She smiled at the drummer as he started to clear away some of the kit, unplugging speakers and detaching endless wires.

The night sky was clear with a touch of pink. It would be another fine day tomorrow. Stars twinkled teasingly down. What bliss it would be, to dispatch him on a night like this!

She waited until the crowd had also moved on; some towards the pub, impatient others to the trees to lie under them or copulate against them.  Later others would make their way to the grave yard clutching beer bottles and hoping they would not be moved on or barred by the local constabulary watch. She knew he would not venture there of his own accord. She smiled at the thought of his being laid there for good soon enough!

 

The pub was heaving with people and some revelers who had come to make mocking comments on the Goths but the landlord would keep control. He knew what to expect at each festival. The Goths would merely laugh back at the scoffing set, dismissing their ignorance. Luck was on her side; she edged her way past a vacated table that had two beer glasses left behind. There was enough beer left in both for her to quickly top up one glass and clutch it as her own. She blended in so well. It was all going so smoothly.

Cigarette smoke drifted in from the people standing about outside and she recognised the aroma as not nicotine alone.

He was making his way towards the Gents. She left the glass on another table, weaved her way through the pressing crowd and headed towards the Ladies. There were but two doors and a young girl Goth dressed totally in blood red came out as she approached. She saw he had merely closed his door to and she could see his back through the gap as he started to pee into the bowl. Silent as the grave, she slipped in behind him, then shut the door gently to. His zip still open, his hand holding his member, he turned his head a little, sensing someone behind him and opened his mouth to speak, but he didn’t cry out, merely made a gurgling sound in his throat. She hardly needed to plunge the knife as it slipped in so easily like cutting into butter. She drove it in knowing exactly the quickest fatal spot. She had practiced so often on discarded models when she worked cleaning in theatre at the hospital, making out she wanted to train as a nurse and maybe become a surgeon herself one day.

 There was a look of startled horror in his bulging eyes as Red Tommy Guitar fell forward against the white tiles. His body thudded as he tumbled down beside the stained bowl. He made a final gurgling sound, his neck and head bent under him. She stood still and listened.

Not a sound outside the door but a flush from the Ladies toilet next to her. She waited. The door leading back into the back of the saloon creaked as it was opened and closed. Her heart galloped in her breast with elation.  Job done! She wiped the knife against the toilet roll hanging on a holder. It was too fine to hold much blood. She slipped the leather cover that was tucked into her bodice back over it and blew it a kiss as she returned it to her boot. Wonderful! Alone again, she slipped the indicator to read ‘Engaged’ before pulling the lavatory door to behind her.

 

Back at the B and B she sat at the dressing table, she took out the cold cream and cleansed her face until it shone. She grinned and giggled back at her own reflection. It had been so easy!

 She removed the jewelry, folded away the dress, wig, and then took off her nails. Damn, she had lost one of them! A small valise was ample for all the Goth gear and the hold-all would take anything else. Tomorrow she would be dressed back into jeans and jumper and another short, page boy styled wig.

She could hardly sleep with anticipation. Tomorrow first light, which wasn’t so far off, she would go for a long walk up over the cliffs and toss the small valise to join the raging sea. She listened to the sweet sound of sirens whining their way to more sorrow and pain. His pain this time and hers, whoever she was… and soon that replica, that boy of his. She’d read about them in some music magazine. She looked through the small, latch window of her room as their lights flashed frantically down the road towards the pub and someone else’s shocking discovery there. 

 

 

 

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Comments

  • Overall I really liked this. I actually think you could be even a more mysterious with some of the details to keep me guessing a bit more.

    As to the writing, there are some stilted sentences - "She had practiced so often on discarded models when she worked cleaning in theatre at the hospital, making out she wanted to train as a nurse and maybe become a surgeon herself one day." - for example. These contrast with some very good sentences, so I would focus initially on redesigning some of those sentences to maintain the quick pace of the piece.
  • Another far too long to read, I'm afraid to say. But I will read some.
    How Do. Take a seat.
  • She arrived on the coach in good time

    Is this the very start?

     and soon found her way to the B and B booked over a year ago.

    I would want more detail in regard to what she sees between the coach and the B&B.

     Whitby was popular all year round now

    Should "was" not be "Is"? Whitby has always been popular, but also in Winter?

     and it was getting even harder to book anywhere during the Gothic Week festival.

    I know what that is, and why there is one, but how many readers would? Some explanation may be due.

    It didn’t take long to unpack her small valise

    Why use that word? It sounds a tad pretentious. Why not just say it's a small bag?

     and the landlady had offered an iron and ironing board for her outfit which naturally had creased during the journey from Sussex.

    You need far more fill-in. Detail. What's her name? did she show her to her room? What's she look like? Did she see her take out her clothing in order to make the offer?  Did they not converse? Build the scene.

     She had smiled knowingly at her offer.

    Why "knowingly"?

    She hung the black hooded cloak on the first available hanger, then her black chiffon dress with sequins and red ribbons sewn so strategically at shoulders, elbow and hemline. Maybe the creases would drop out a little as this October was a mild one and the room small and stuffy.

    Gosh, perhaps she should have used a decent suitcase? Is there some reason she did not?

    Sitting at the 40’s style dressing table, with its wooden back to the window,

    Is it a low window or a very tall dressing table?

     she gazed out onto the narrow streets. This upper room overlooked the red roofed houses that snuggled, shoulder to shoulder, winding their bodies down along the narrow lanes.

    You could describe more. People who have been there, like myself, often welcome the mention of familiar places. If you are not actually looking out while you write this, then use Google Maps and Streetview. Both excellent tools for looking at places you are not actually at.

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Whitby/@54.4805742,-0.636857,5412m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x487f1779f21902d7:0xa0fd139f12932a0!8m2!3d54.486335!4d-0.613347

    How Do. Take a seat.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian
    Kevin, for once I find that I agree with some of your points.

    First let me say this: It goes well once it begins. It needs some work -- those stilted sentences that Paul mentioned, and the point about the coach and the B & B, that Kevin mentioned...

    On those, my standard advice is to slow down. There's no restriction on words, and if it takes two sentences, or ten, or thirty to say that she arrived from the coach in good time and stepped lively towards the B&B, then so be it.

    But I'd ask you to compare the description of Tommy Bloody Guitar on stage... the writhing, the sweat sticking his ginger hair to his brow... See how you've given us a great visual scene there? Compare it with the Goth Girl (Goth Lady, Goth Hag, Goth Noun-of-Preference) getting to the B&B. One makes us see the scene, even imagine the details that aren't described, and the other just shoves information at us.

    What if you had said, instead of "She arrived on the coach in good time and soon found her way to the B and B booked over a year ago" you had said something more like: 

     "She stepped down from the coach and cast her eyes along the narrow street, smirking as she chose the most likely path to her B&B. This would be the night; the reason she had booked her room over a year in advance." 

    Understand here, I'm not talking about the difference between the right way and the wrong way, or good and bad, but between pretty good and a bit better. Of course, we always want a bit better. You've got a good basic story, and a couple of good scenes, but slow down and tell them with a bit more reference.

    Also, in passing, I object to the line "She had smiled knowingly at her offer" because it is unclear whether the Goth is smiling at the landlady's offer, or the landlady is smiling at her own offer. Do Goth's never use irons? Were we expected to know this? But of course, that is a minor, almost trivial point.

    In all, a good tale. A stylistic comment to follow.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian
    Now, on style: There are, in broad strokes, two kinds of crime drama: Those in which the drama is driven by the mystery, and the suspense hangs from discovering the killer, or those in which we know who is the killer, and the suspense comes from finding out if he or she will be caught.

    Your story at this point could go either way, though you've taken big steps down the second path. Neither style is right or wrong, but each has its advantages. In the Who-Dun-It? style, there's a built-in outline, and the plot drives itself. The righter-of-wrongs naturally snoops around and ferrets out the killer.

    In the Why-Do-It/Will-They-Catchem? style, the "outline" is much looser but the author needs to give us considerable insight into the killer's thinking. And you've given us a bit of that already, with the Goth imagining what trees and graveyards will be used for later, or what the publican's attitude towards drunken Goths will be. Or when she hopes to put the guitarist into the graveyard and not in a fun way, we're in her mind to some degree.

    The WillTheyCatchem? style doesn't let us directly have that same insight directly into the righter-of-wrongs, so there have to be some interactions to give us clues about what the righter is thinking. If you remember the old Columbo series, you'll see what I mean... Um, just one more thing, Ma'am... Oh, yes. right you are...

    So that's just food for thought. Best of luck with the story. Hope it goes very well. I can't wait to see more.
  • Kevin, for once I find that I agree with some of your points.

    They are the same type of points I usually make. :-)

    How Do. Take a seat.
  • Thanks to all for taking the time and effort to read my extract. I shall take comments on board. Yes, I DO rush... I lost a handwritten first novel and it has made me rather nervous of losing any writing I do! I also had a stroke and this made me very aware of time running out! CHEERS!  
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian
    I understand the concerns. Yes, mortality is one of the great obstacles to creativity. We recently lost Sue Grafton, who will never give us "Y is for ..." or "Z is for ..."

    And the goal of a first draft is to get the plot onto paper where it can be worked on, so no worries there either. You will have plenty of time in the second draft to work on points of style and scenery.

    As I said above, once it gets going it goes well.
  • CHEERS!
  • SphinxCameronSphinxCameron Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    Time is what you make of it, none of us have time as much as we'd like to think so it behooves us to make the most of however much we have.

    Hopefully you're mending well after the stroke.
    LindaTay said:
    Thanks to all for taking the time and effort to read my extract. I shall take comments on board. Yes, I DO rush... I lost a handwritten first novel and it has made me rather nervous of losing any writing I do! I also had a stroke and this made me very aware of time running out! CHEERS!  

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