Monday, October 01, 2007

Great Beginnings, Part One

This week I'm going to devote some time to some of the greatest openers in mystery fiction. I'll begin with a favorite of mine: see if you recognize it.

"The lake was cold, black, evil, nor more than five hundred yards in length, scarely two hundred in breadth, a crooked stretch of glassy calm shadowed by the mountainsides that slipped steeply into its dark waters and went plunging down. There were no roads, no marked paths around it; only a few tracks, narrow ribbons, wound crazily along its high sides, sometimes climbing up and around the rough crags, sometimes dropping to the sparse clumps of fir at its water line. The eastern tip of the lake was closed off by a ridge of precipices. The one approach was by its western end. Here, the land eased away into gentler folds, forming a stretch of fine alpine grass strewn with pitted boulders and groups of more firs. This was where the trail, branching up from the rough road that linked villages and farms on the lower hills, ended in a bang and a whimper: a view of the forbidding grandeur and a rough wooden table with two benches where the summer visitor could eat his hard-boiled eggs and caraway-sprinkled ham sandwiches."
And so begins Helen MacInnes' great thriller, The Salzburg Connection, which gives The Bourne Identity a run for its money. I blogged about this recently here.

Anyone who hasn't tried MacInnes might be pleasantly surprised to find she has many exciting books--if this one looks good to you, give it a read! More fun introductions to follow.

(photo link here)

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