Brad, a therapist in rural North Carolina, is enraged when two sisters he’s been counseling are brutalized by a meth dealer with a craving for kids. In Brazil, Kimmy’s six-month-old is ripped from her arms, murdered and discarded in the alley trash.
The two agree their first target will be the meth dealer.
Now the gangbangers are after them. And the meth dealer? He just found the most mouthwatering little boy.
That last sentence revolts me. I'm not sure I'd keep reading past it.
You've got a real problem here when the protagonists of the story become the perpetrators of crimes. How exactly are they going to keep our sympathy particularly when their "thirst for revenge" is turning them into vigilantes.
You've got more story here than you know what to do with.
How Kimmy gets to North Carolina, speaks enough English to navigate etc. is beyond the scope of a query letter. You might leave out that her story starts in Brazil. You don't need every detail in a query and the ones that raise more questions than they answer are good candidates for being left out.
MURDER THERAPY is a 100,000 word crime-thriller
It's not really a thriller since there's no ticking clock and no issue beyond the personal stories of the protagonists. This is a crime novel most likely. If you kill Kimmy and Brad at the end, it's probably noir.
Dear Query Shark,
In Wilkes County, North Carolina—birthplace of moonshine and NASCAR—a therapist, Brad Ellis, is rocked with grief when two of his dearest clients are brutalized by a pedophilic meth dealer.
When you mention moonshine and NASCAR in the first sentence, it's not unreasonable to expect the book is about those two things. When I continue reading, I expect to see it. When I don't, I'm confused. Confusion is NOT a good thing in a query letter.
You're using that to be descriptive, but you're describing the location, not the story.
"dearest clients" sounds very strange to me as well, particularly given Brad is a therapist. Are his clients children? And "rocked with grief" is a strange reaction to "brutalized." I'd expect "raging hot anger" --and in fact, given what follows, that's probably more accurate.
Kimberly Caudill is a new mother just arrived in Brazil. Before she’s even unpacked, her six-month-old is ripped from her arms by experienced kidnappers but needlessly murdered once the ransom is paid. In the aftermath of her loss Kimmy’s spiral of self-destruction is amplified by her ‘morning bowl of Zoloft’ and rampant promiscuity.
This is a mess of events, much like too many characters is character soup. The story doesn't start here (but I bet your novel does) The story starts here
------>Then she meets Brad at an online counseling forum. The two agree to augment their treatment by hunting down the people responsible for their tragedies. And kill them.
While Kimmy critiques her target’s fashion sense and Brad struggles with the hypocrisy of being a vigilante-therapist, this crack team botches their first assassination and runs up against a sheriff with his own agenda. He just happens to know someone, a rare individual with a unique skill set, who can help them if they agree to do this one thing—
whoa. Kimmy critiques her target's fashion sense? The fashion sense of a kidnapper who killed her child? This is lunacy. The tone and subject matter combination is so disjointed it makes me think of "Springtime for Hitler" or broccoli ice cream: two things that just do not go together.
And you're off in mish-mash again with "a rare individual" etc. What's the unique skill set and why on earth does he need these two?
From the streets of Sao Palo to the back roads of the rural South, MURDER THERAPY is a story of revenge, filled with violent gang lords, inbred trailer-trash, bikini-clad coeds, special ops soldiers, and crusty old bomb makers.
And we're done. This is where I stop reading. Are you trying to be sardonically humorous? If so, I missed it.
This 100,000 word thriller draws upon my own decade of experience in therapy as a Qualified Professional in Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Wilderness Therapy Senior Instructor, and years of teaching Mixed Martial Arts. In addition to attending writing conferences and workshops, I also studied Creative Writing at (redacted).
This isn't a thriller. I'm not sure what it is, but it's not a thriller. A thriller needs a ticking clock, and stakes larger than what happens to the characters (the difference between burning down one house and burning down a city for example)
Thank you for your consideration,
This is a mess right now. There's a lot of stuff, but no sense of what the book is about and certainly no sense of the book's tone.I have no sense of why I'd want to know any of these characters...in fact, I'm pretty sure I don't want to know them, and that's counterproductive for the purposes of a query.