Guess the Plot
1. After Jerry Thompkins blows up his Chevy van, the ruins are sifted, and a scribbled postcard addressed to Santa Claus is discovered. Could this be what homicide detective Jane Ramirez needs to solve the intractable Case of the Toddler's Tantrum?
2. The post card was addressed to his deceased father, the return address from a place called Fantasaria. Soon, Steven finds himself in a magical realm full of talking plants, evil flesh-eating clouds, and unicorns. Also, Irish hitmen.
3. Sara gets a postcard from Morocco dated 1913 and addressed to her great-grandfather. So where was it all those years? And why did she get it now?
4. A harmless looking postcard arrives mixed with the rest of the junk mail offering the lucky recipient a choice of prizes. But the prize turns out to be the grisly remains of a dismembered corpse. Now it's up to FBI agent Harry Grimes to solve the baffling case. Also, hypnotism.
5. Yvette Richardson needs some time away after her divorce. Even after extensive research on the Internet, she still can't decide between Mexico or Puerto Rico. Mysterious mail sent from a travel agency she's never heard of helps her decide, but will she meet the tight-abbed hunk on the front of the postcard, as promised?
6. Feisty literary agent Cara tells her best friend Sue, "If I get one more query on pink unicorn paper, I'll blow up Grand Central." As a joke, Sue drops that very thing in Cara's box the next morning. Now Grand Central is nothing but ashes, Cara has disappeared, and Sue has received a mysterious postcard saying "I didn't do it" in red lipstick. But it's not Cara's color.
I have just completed The Postcard, a work of crime fiction. The novel runs 220 pages, [Or 880 postcards.] a little more than 61k words.
A harmless looking postcard arrives mixed with the rest of the junk mail. The postcard offers the lucky recipient a choice of prizes absolutely free. When the prize turns out to be the grisly remains of a dismembered corpse, [I would have gone with the Orlando vacation, but the grisly remains of a dismembered corpse would have been my second choice.] the local police are called in. [Does the prizewinner call the police to report the grisly remains of a dismembered corpse, or to complain about not getting his prize?] [By the way, what's the difference between a dismembered corpse and the grisly remains of a dismembered corpse? They're both pretty grisly. I'm guessing with one all the members are there, albeit scattered about, and with the other, all that remains are the parts the killer didn't eat.] [Wait, the parts he didn't eat wouldn't be the grisly remains--they'd be the gristly remains.] [How did whoever shipped the prize handle it?
Customer: Yes, I'd like to ship this crate.
Postal clerk: Anything liquid, fragile or perishable?
Customer: Ah, I guess it's perishable.
Postal clerk: Fruit? Vegetable? Cheese?
Customer: No, no, just the grisly remains of a dismembered corpse.
Postal clerk: Okay, you'll have to fill out shipper's declaration 326B.]
When a second card sends the locals into a booby trapped house, killing seven policemen, the outmatched local officials call in the FBI. The Bureau relies on Special Agent Harry Grimes to solve its most puzzling cases and Harry has his work cut out for him. The innocent looking postcard is packed with anagrams, palindromes and number puzzles. [Taunting the cops is cruel, but making them play Jumble, the scrambled word game, in order to decipher your taunts is truly diabolical.] Harry, a crossword puzzle fan himself, gets a thorough grounding in the myth and mystery surrounding ordinary numbers. It soon becomes increasingly difficult to know what is a clue and what a red herring. Harry's persistence leads him from an amateur crossword puzzle competition to a curious church deep in a Florida swamp. [Okefenokee Orthodox.] Harry also stumbles on a suspicious motorcycle gang and a string of missing Iraq war veterans [There's a little something for everyone in this book.] whose disappearance is linked to a malignant government sponsored experiment in mind control. The story delves into man's relation to numbers and word games and explores the history of hypnotism
[1790: Mesmer becomes the first to hypnotize someone into clucking like a chicken.
1850: Riechenbach is the first to employ the revolutionary dangling pocket watch.
1910: Svengali discovers hypnosis can be used to get babes.
1917: Rasputin engineers the Russian revolution through mass hypnosis of 80 million peasants.
1979: Candy Goes to Hollywood hits porn theaters.]
and the government's efforts at developing a mind control weapon.The reader follows Harry's evolving knowledge in these arcane subjects as well as changes in his personal life, his budding romance with Aviva (a palindromic name), [Is he in love with Aviva or her name? Lose the parenthetical phrase.] his separation from his wife and daughter, [Hannah and Lil,] pressures from his boss and team mates. Running throughout the book are numerous anagrams, palindromes and the relationship of numbers on the human mind. [ Incredible! I just realized--this entire query letter is a palindrome.] The mystery deepens and is not resolved until the very last twist on the last page [, a page that has been encoded into the Navajo language].
I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know when you get around to reviewing it.
If you anagram every word in the query letter, any agent who figures out the entire text would have put so much effort into your work already, she'll have no choice but to represent you.
Wait, make the entire book a giant cryptogram! And it comes with the reader's choice of a Scrabble game or a Sudoku book.
"Harry Grimes" sounds too much like porn star Harry Reems.
As you don't bother to even name the prize recipient, I assume the story starts when Harry Grimes is called in. Thus we can reduce the backstory:
The winner of the latest Publishers Clearinghouse contest was expecting a million dollars a year for life, and all he got was the grisly remains of a dismembered corpse. Clerical error? Maybe, but FBI agent Harry Grimes doesn't think so.To me this falls apart when you start listing all the disparate elements covered in the book. Is the mind control experimentation related to the grisly remains of a dismembered corpse? Is this a mystery about Harry and a serial killer who leaves clever puzzle clues? If so, stick with that thread in the query and leave the history of hypnotism and the missing war veterans for the book.
And use paragraphs. Your plot is too long to be one paragraph.
And there's too much about word games: "packed with anagrams, palindromes and number puzzles," "man's relation to numbers and word games," "throughout the book are numerous anagrams, palindromes and the relationship of numbers on the human mind." We get it. If you play up the word game aspect too much, people will think the games are a bigger part of the book than the characters and plot. People buy novels to read about the grisly remains of dismembered corpses, not to solve cryptic crosswords. You might want to remove a few of the puzzles "running throughout the book" and save them for the sequel.