A helicopter crashes. An airport is closed. Traffic blocks a highway. Are they related? Is it terrorism? Or something worse?
This sounds like Monday on the LIRR to me. Which is the biggest problem with rhetorical questions...they don't elicit the answer you think they do. And that's the reason I continue to tell queriers: don't open your query with any sort of question.
I'm a published author, and I've just completed (redacted), a 102,000-word thriller woven in part around these themes.
What themes? You haven't mentioned ANY themes. You've mentioned traffic.
Never EVER use the phrase "just completed" in a query. The last thing I want to read is something you "just completed." I want to read something you've polished until it gleams. There's absolutely no need to mention how recently you finished this and polished it up. This is one place where you can cut words, and you need to because this query clocks in at 440 words.
And "I'm a published author" has become code for "I'm self published and trying to hide it."
Of course, when I looked up your name, you're not that at all. You want to make SURE you mention the title and publisher of your last book. Here's how to do that.
"I am the author of TITLE (Publisher: year published) a non-fiction look at Subject. I am querying you on my first novel TITLE OF NOVEL." In other words, get the name of the publisher right there next to the title.
If you have more than one book here's what you do:
"I am the author of Number of Books, most recently TITLE (Publisher: year published). I've included a list of my books at the bottom of this email" and then include the list below your signature and above the first 3-5 pages of the manuscript you include in the query.
Here's where your query really starts ----->
They're the only people who see a helicopter crash on the NJ Turnpike? Really? You can't pry me out of NYC with a crowbar so I haven't actually ever seen the NJ Turnpike, but I looked up the stats and it seems like there are more than 100,000 cars on the NJ Turnpike daily. If they're not the only people who see it, why are they targets?
And their first response is run to Mexico? Not go to the police?
This is why short form queries are so hard to write. You don't have time to explain or world-build. You have to entice your reader with very few words.
Meanwhile, Ariel Katz, a tenacious Israeli anti-terrorism expert, becomes intrigued by the crash, suspecting that terrorists might be involved. Katz's investigation indirectly lures Adam and Zoe to Israel. Just after they enter that country with forged documents, Katz orders their arrest. Pursued now by two groups, Adam and Zoe find themselves running frantically into the Old City of Jerusalem. There a harrowing chase through the narrow, ancient streets and alleyways finally leads them to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Christianity's holiest site.
Who is the protagonist? Who is the antagonist? Right now you've got a lot of people running around the world. You've got a lot going on, but no plot.
With no way out, Adam and Zoe have to decide who to trust. Only in the aftermath do they finally learn the chilling truth that will haunt them,
Only one story has haunted me forever, and you don't want to promise to do that to me again. (Shirley Jackson's THE LOTTERY in case you're wondering.)
"Haunt you forever" is hyperbole. It's not effective in a query.
You're telling, not showing. Cinematic possiblities is nice, but I'm not a film agent. All I care about is whether it's a rip-roaring novel with a crackerjack plot.
an adventure novel."
There's no way to say that stuff about yourself without sounding pretentious as hell. It may be true (I'm sure it is) but it's like telling people your SAT score. I don't really care why you turned to writing novels. I only care if this is one I want to read.
Can I send you part or all of my ms. for review?
you have your entire manuscript online? oh wait, no you don't. It's password encrypted. Thus it's NOT online unless I email you to ask you for the password.
I'm not going to do that. And I'm probably not going to go to your website to read pages. When an agent asks for the first N to N+1 pages in a query, you have to paste them in the email. NOT include a URL.
I can be reached as follows:
This info goes under your name.
I look forward to hearing from you.
This query is 404 words, and I really encourage writers to adhere to the 250 mark. Not just to keep it to the one page limit, but forcing yourself to write in this short form forces you to pare down your query to the essentials.
In the QueryShark archives is a template for how to get the essentials of plot in to a query letter. I'm honest to god not kiddding when I tell you guys reading the archives is essential. Yes I know there are 200+ letters in there, but if you read those first you'll save yourself a lot of time and revisions.
This is a form rejection despite impressive publication credentials. I have no sense of the plot, and that's absolutely critical in a thriller. I have no sense of the antagonist either.