Friday, April 18, 2008


April 19 2008

Ms. Janet Reid
Fine Print Literary Management

Dear Ms. Reid:

Twenty years ago, six desperate men took what didn't belong to them and signed their death warrants. Now burnt-out Special Affairs Section (SAS) investigator, COMMANDER BLAIN CAVAN (why is this in caps?) is recruited by a clandestine agency known as "The Corporation" to find out who is behind the disappearance of the Ruby Buddha, a priceless jade image stolen from the Imperial Palace in Hue during the Vietnam War. To stave off Chinese intervention, the United States must return the Ruby Buddha to the Vietnamese Government or face a dangerous shift of power and allegiance in SE Asia.

Chinese intervention in what? Dangerous shift of power in SE Asia? China is going to melt? Please don't tell me you think American has a lot of power and influence in SE Asia.

As Cavan races to find and recover the Ruby Buddha he also discovers betrayal at the highest levels of government - in both the U.S. and China, and faces betrayal at a personal level that pits him in a life and death struggle with a Chinese colonel who's long wanted to see him dead.

My extensive real-life experiences throughout S.E. Asia, Papua/New Guinea and the Pacific Islands provides me with firsthand knowledge of the cultures and geography that lends a strong edge of reality to Cavan's story as he's forced to travel to the ends of the earth to bring down a madman who appears to know his every move.

Madmen are over used as villains and even in thrillers they are boring. The most interesting and compelling villains are the ones who would describe themselves as heroes of the story.

THE RUBY BUDDHA, a Commander Blain Cavan action-adventure mystery, is 100,000 words and complete. If the project interests you, I would be delighted to send additional pages or the full upon request.

The problem here is that the stakes aren't clear. It's sort of like you're describing that world peace hinges on the return of the Maltese Falcon. Stories that hinge on the discovery of an icon/return of an icon tend to be conflicts between individuals. If you want to write a thriller wherein the balance of power rests on the outcome of the conflict, you need higher stakes than the return of an icon. The only way that would work is if the icon is magic and then you're into a whole new category: SF, not action-adventure mystery.


Jamie Hall said...

I'm confused about a few things:

1) Is this novel set in the present, or during/near the Vietnam War, or at some other time? You say "twenty years ago" the Ruby Buddha was stolen, then seem to describe actions occuring in the present, but the Vietnam War was more than twenty years ago.

2) Why is the "Ruby Buddha" made of jade? I was confused as to why something made of one material would be named after another material. Actually, what popped into my mind was the red emerald in "Eye of Argon." This is a minor detail, but you don't want anything even slightly confusing in your query. I'd omit that it's made of jade.

3) I'm confused as to what the consequences actually are, and why the theft of one object can change the "balance of power" between countries. Yes, we've all seen plots where such things happen, but it's an unusual situation that requires an equally unusual reason. For example, maybe the Ruby Buddha is a historical artifact of such prestige that masses of peasants will support whichever politician owns it, and an up-and-coming dictator wants it back right now. Whatever the actual reason is (I just guessed) you need to include it in your query or you risk looking like the stated consequences don't fit your plot.

4) I'm also confused as to why, if stealing this thing has such enormous repercussions, it takes twenty years after the theft for things to start. Although, if you clear up concern #1 you might just clear this up too.

Good luck in your querying!

jjdebenedictis said...

I think this query would be more engaging if it was more specific. If I knew what was behind the line "...or face a dangerous shift of power and allegiance in SE Asia", I think I'd be pretty interested. Give us more detail?

M Clement Hall said...

Having worked in Hue I can assure you there weren't no emerald buddha in the palace. The author may know PNG but he sure as hell don't know VN
I also resent SAS being used for this purpose having been in that regiment in the British Army.
Switch names, switch locales, switch centuries