Tantalizing first paragraphs are tricky enough. But a killer first line is as elusive as Lasseter's Reef. Here are a handful from some of my favourite crime authors. (I call it research but you might know it by its other name—procrastination.)
- Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, retired, had been explaining how the complicated happening below the Salt Woman Shrine illustrated his Navajo belief in universal connections.
Tony Hillerman, Skeleton Man
- Hosteen Joseph Joe remembered it like this.
Tony Hillerman, The Ghostway
- On a grey, whipped Wednesday in early winter, men in long coats came out and shot Renoir where he stood, noble, unbalanced, a foreleg hanging.
Peter Temple, Dead Point
- In the late autumn, down windy streets raining yellow oak and elm leaves, I went to George Armit's funeral.
Peter Temple, Black Tide
- 'Then why are you here?'
Ian Rankin, Resurrection Men
- It all happened because John Rebus was in his favourite massage parlour reading the Bible.
Ian Rankin, The Black Book*
- My law office was located on the old courthouse square of Missoula, Montana, not far from the two or three blocks of low-end bars and hotels that front the railyards, where occasionally Johnny American Horse ended up on a Sunday morning, sleeping in a doorway, shivering in the cold.
James Lee Burke, In the Moon of Red Ponies
- Years ago, in state documents, Vachel Carmouche was always referred to as the electrician, never as the executioner.
James Lee Burke, Purple Cane Road______
*I've skipped the prologue.