Monday, January 14, 2013

Bouncer Post #28

Genre:  Thriller
Word Count: 87,000


When off-duty Santa Barbara Police Officer CLAIRE HARTMAN spies an officer in a neighboring jurisdiction battling a combative driver on a traffic encounter, she stops to render aid.  But after the officer flees the scene in his undercover car, Claire realizes the real crook isn't the terrified woman in handcuffs.

Even though the case is shelved and her own department forbids her to intervene, Claire vows to find the police impersonator targeting women unlikely to trust police and reluctant to report the attacks.

Claire delves deeper into the impersonator's psyche, uncovering a vigilante's twisted idea of justice and his growing attraction to the woman who's sworn to stop him. When mutilation escalates to murder, Claire races to save the woman she once helped arrest and finds herself the Watchman's newest target.

First 250:

Claire Hartman faced a dilemma: report to duty and meet the man who waited for her at the Santa Barbara police station, or top off her tank, cash out her accounts, find someone to feed her cat and continue driving north until she hit Vancouver.

Tough Choice. She'd miss her cat.

Each mile along the Ventura coastline brought her closer to the station and she found herself slowing. She tried to imagine the confrontation and realized she had nothing to say to the man. The emotions had fled.

She rolled down the window of her truck. The cold February wind seared her nostrils and raised goose-bumps on her bare forearms. Across the southbound lanes, the sinking sun shimmered against an expanse of water broken only by neoprene-clad surfers awaiting the next swell.

The idea that she could just run away held delicious appeal. For a moment, she let the idea germinate, tease her with options, but ultimately, she knew she would fight the temptation to yield.

She'd spent the afternoon teaching this concept at the police academy in her officer survival class. Officers girded themselves against harm with tactics and training in a profession that measured security in degrees. But survival depended more on mindset. The officer who refused to surrender went home at night. Stories abounded of dead cops who never unholstered, never fought back. She had scanned the faces of her students and wondered who in this class would die.

No. She could not run away.


  1. Right off the bat you get a sense of the protag's sense of humor. I'm guessing that will play out as she deals with a pretty gruesome case. Even in a short excerpt, I get a lot of good details (she teaches at the police academy). I'd read on.

  2. I liked your portrayal of Claire's dilemma in your opening 250, it brought me inside her head - and I wanted to know her. I would definitely keep reading. The query is well done, but could include a few more specifics maybe, for example, why does the department forbid her to intervene? I thought the first sentence of the query was a bit too long so it lost a little of it's punch, if the details of "neighboring jurisdiction" and "traffic encounter" aren't crucial, maybe think about leaving them out of the query. I stumbled on them a little on my first read.

    This sounds like an interesting story that I would enjoy!

    Good Luck!
    (Bouncer Post #16).

  3. I think you do a good job in the query of making this sound like back-cover copy and giving the query some voice. I feel like this might have come at the expense of clarity in a couple instances, though.

    First, I’m confused as to why the police dept would shelve what appears to be a very active case. That whole sentence was a little confusing to me, actually. The info that this person was a police impersonator seems like the very most important part to me, and it’s kind of buried in this long sentence. Then when mutilation and murder come up in the last paragraph, I’m surprised—up until now, it seemed like this person was just making fake traffic stops. This makes the stakes entirely different, and I wish we’d heard of it sooner. Also, “his growing attraction to the woman who’s sworn to stop him”—does that mean Claire? (And one nitpicky thing—names of characters aren’t put in all-caps in queries.)

    I feel like the 250 could be tightened a bit to make sure there are no repeated ideas, but I like the voice!

  4. Thanks everyone for the comments. I really appreciate the feedback!