Dear Query Shark,
The only thing Walt Dempsy’s father left him, before getting locked up for good, was the ability to take a punch. Which comes in handy when you are the only guy who won't play along in a dying beach town run by vicious drug dealers and dirty money.
I like this. It engages my interest and while my sox are still on my toes, this looks good.
A once epic brawler Walt now spends his nights working a security gig at the hospital, and his mornings flirting with Piper the bartender over breakfast beers. It had been years since he’d had been in a real fight, or since anyone had noticed him at all.
What gives this paragraph heft is that last phrase "since anyone noticed him at all." Right there we know a lot about Walt. In fact, this feels like the Edward Hopper painting Nighthawks.
Everything changed the night the nor'easter storm hit and Walt was the sole witness to a deadly car crash. Inside the burning wreckage he finds a man drawing his last breath and a small fortune in drug money. In a desperate moment Walt steals the money from the burning car and sets off a chain of events that force him down a dangerous road filled with drugs, dirty cops, con men, and deranged killers.
I'd change Walt was to Walt is. I have a fondness for queries in the present tense because I think it pumps up the energy, and in a short form like a query it's not too tiring for the reader.
Now we've all seen this plot before. There've been novels, and movies with this. But, because I like the writing here, I'm going to keep reading.
As he struggles to cover his tracks from that night an old flame shows up in town with fresh hell in tow. She was blonde now, and calling herself Eve, but she was still the same beautiful troublemaker from when they were teenagers.
And again She is a blonde now is much better.
And she is still the same.
And the reason I'm glad I kept reading is that lovely turn of phrase "fresh hell in tow."
This is the kind of thing I look for in a query: turns of phrase, word choices that give me confidence that even with a plot I've seen, you're going to write so well I won't be able to put the manuscript down.
Eve had a desperate need for money and the dangerous man he was in his youth to protect her. The dirty money was more than enough to make all her troubles go away. The only problem is he can’t show a dime of it without raising the suspicions of Shudo, the deranged and ruthless drug kingpin, and risking certain death.
Now Walt is faced with an impossible choice: dig up the violent man he used to be and risk blowing the lid off his safe but stagnant life for a shot with the girl who got away, or stay in the shadows and watch his world slowly fade away around him.
And I'm in. At this point, I'm reading pages and PRAYING they're good.
Your query has done her job.
COLD SNAP is a complete, 73,000 word thriller I would describe as "No Country for Old Men" meets "The Town". Thank you for your time and consideration.
Now, if you really wanted to knock my socks off, you'd mention that "The Town" is based on Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves, and then mention that you think it's an example of a perfect novel, which I might have raved about once or twice
If you've only seen the movie, stop reading right now, and go order the book and read it.
Now back to the query.
This query works not because it's fresh and new but because the writing is good. It catches my attention. There are lovely turns of phrase.
If the book needs work on the plot that's a whole lot easier than trying to fix the writing.