Let's get right to it.
Dear (Agent's name):
Skylar Karras awesome name wants one thing, to enjoy life with his new bride and the child they’re expecting, but when his wife falls victim to a reckless woman’s greed, I like this, but it's vague. It becomes clear in a moment that she was probably murdered, but who is this reckless woman? If she's not an important character in the novel, you could just say his wife was murdered without mentioning by who. he’s forced to bury them instead. Now all Sky wants is revenge. His brother, Nick, has the perfect plan: grab the woman responsible and turn her over to his boss, a sex-trafficker in San Francisco’s Russian Mafia. Okay. This is really cool, but it goes with my point, if the murderer is a sex-slave, or a junkie, or both, say so right away. He is he Nick, or the mob boss? offers Sky a deal he can't refuse. In exchange for the woman, he’ll let Nick I thought this was about Skylar, but now Nick's the one who needs to get out of the game? Does Sky not also have ties to the mob? leave the business for good—with his debt wiped clean and his heart still beating. I think we may need to understand this setup a little better. We've got these brothers, one or both of them has ties to the ruthless Russian Mafia, and one wants revenge for his wife's murder, which was committed by a woman associated with the mob. If Sky wants revenge, why would he give this woman back to the mob? Had she somehow escaped their clutches, and he's planning on returning her to her life of victimization?
There’s just one problem: Sky kidnaps the wrong woman. Uh oh. This is a nice twist, and it will work even better if you can clear up the first paragraph a bit.
Now he must protect Hannah Maguire from the very men he’s mistakenly set upon her. But the Russians are holding Nick as leverage to force Sky to complete their deal. I'm starting to understand. Nick was the one caught up in all the crime, Sky was the good brother, but he wants to save his brother and get his revenge all in one move. Caught in a no-win situation, he must find a way to save himself, his brother, and the girl. But with the Russian Mafia, even two out of three makes for very long odds. This is pretty good, great summary, great stakes, great set-up of a difficult choice to make.
THE MISTAKEN, a psychological thriller of 91,000 words, might appeal to fans of Jennifer Hillier’s Creep and Greg Iles’s Turning Angel and Sleep No More. Perfect. This is exactly how you should make these comparisons.
Though I no longer have ties with anyone in San Francisco’s Russian underworld, I have loosely based my novel on villains and events from my past there. I'm not sure what to say about this. On the one hand, your experience gives you a unique and singular ability to tell this story, which is clearly important biographical information, but I think you might need to get more specific. I mean not here, in a public forum, because I'm sure it's personal information, but I think it will make a big difference to an agent whether you are an ex investigator, criminal, or victim. I'm not sure, it may not matter as much as I think it does, but "ties with anyone in San Francisco’s Russian underworld" could mean many different things.
I would be happy to provide sample chapters, a full synopsis, or the complete manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.
So this query is already very good. You people have to stop sending me these great queries, because it makes my job very hard. Just kidding.
I really think you're in great shape here. You've obviously got a high stakes premise, and this sounds a bit like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or Eastern Promises, but darker, American, and more contemporary. I think if you fix a couple things in the first paragraph, to clarify, you'll be in excellent shape. My biggest problem is with the logic of the solution, if Sky gives the woman to the mob to save his brother, he's not really getting his revenge, unless giving her back to the mob is the revenge. You need to make that clearer.
Nancy S. Thompson
(personal info redacted)
That's all, folks.
So what do you guys think? What would you add, cut, or change? Am I wrong in my confusion about the solution to Sky's problems?