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FIDDLER'S GREEN (mystery / thriller)


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#1 tmcgee86

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 08:15 PM

Dear Agent,

Most patients who’ve been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital are dying to get out, not dying when they get out. So when four girls from the same hospital each commit suicide within days of their release, Wood Newton knows it’s no coincidence... it’s murder.

This is why Woodrow Newton is taking a break from his job as Head Golf Pro of the exclusive beach resort, Fiddler’s Green, and looking into a friend’s mysterious death. Well... that and he was asked to take a sabbatical after developing a nasty habit of getting in fist fights with his customers, but either way, Wood is convinced that Rebecca Walters did not commit suicide. The only problem is he’s equally convinced of who did it... Matt Rains.

The super-lawyer voted "Most Hated Man in the State" by Texas Monthly, Rains has made a career of defending the most vile criminals he can find. He’s also been moonlighting on the mental health docket lately. When Wood discovers that each recent suicide had Rains as their court-appointed attorney, he thinks he’s solved the case. But when Wood comes home one night to find Rains in his living room pointing a pistol as him and claiming innocence, he decides he might as well hear him out. You know... just to cover all his bases.

Now Wood has to decide if he should trust Rains—who’s a professional liar—or trust his instincts—which haven’t been that good lately. This is why you don’t ask a golf pro to solve a murder.

FIDDLER’S GREEN is complete at 96,000 words.

#2 FineMan

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 08:43 PM

Dear Agent,

Most patients who’ve been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital are dying to get out, not dying when they get out. So When four girls from the same hospital each commit suicide within days of their release, Wood Newton knows (suspects?) it’s no coincidencei.... It’s murder.

This is why Woodrow Newton is taking a break from his job as Head Golf Pro of the exclusive beach resort, Fiddler’s Green,(Way to long to get to this) and looking into a friend’s mysterious death. Well... tThat and he was asked to take a sabbatical after developing a (nasty habit of getting in fist fights with his customers,) reword but either way, Wood is convinced that Rebecca Walters did not commit suicide. The only problem is he’s equally convinced of who did it who killed herlose the dots... Matt Rains.

The Matt Rains, super-lawyer voted "Most Hated Man in the State" by Texas Monthly, Rains has made a career of defending the most vile criminals he can find. He’s also been moonlighting on the mental health docket lately. When Wood discovers that each recent suicide had Rains as their court-appointed attorney, he thinks he’s solved the case. But when Wood comes home one night to find Rains in his living room pointing a pistol as him and claiming innocence, he decides he might as well hear him out. You know... just to cover all his bases. Don't crack wise.

Now Wood has to decide if he should trust Rains—who’s a professional liar,or trust his instincts,which haven’t been that good lately. This is why you don’t ask a golf pro to solve a murder. Is the book funny? If so, okay, if not, stop being a smart a@@

FIDDLER’S GREEN is complete at 96,000 words.

It sounds interesting. Remember, you are trying to sell an agent on reading your book. If you don't take it seriously, who should? I could be wrong, but that is my view.

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#3 Pete Morin

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 09:03 PM

McGee - this sounds hilarious. I don't have a problem with the voice - or the cracking wise. You might decide it can be dialed back just a bit - but I do agree the "is the book funny" line has to go.

No time for a line-by-line, but I do believe you're on the right track. Maybe try not to give so much away on the latter end of the plot?

Keep sanding and polishing. And tell us what the genre is - I know, it's fairly evident, but it's two words.
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#4 tmcgee86

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 09:20 PM

Thanks for the feedback. For the record the "is the book funny" line is from Fineman, not me, it just didn't get included in red.


And yeah the book is funny, not totally funny but definitely want that voice to show through. Wood's kind of a reluctant hero, and it's his first job like this so he doesn't exactly know what he's doing, that's the reason for the cracking wise. I'm actually glad to hear it shines through so much that I can tone it down some and still not lose the flavor, that's what I was having the most trouble with, not knowing how it sounds to others and therefore not knowing how much to include.

Thanks so much for your help, great advice both of you.

#5 FineMan

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 11:14 PM

It is red now. Okay, glad to know it is suppose to have a sense of humor.
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#6 BekahSwan

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 03:19 AM

I like it from the start. Maybe mention that it's a comedic mystery.

#7 JMB

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 03:55 AM

A good query. Keep the voice. Loose the ellipses.

Are the victims girls or young women? Presumably women if one is old enough to be friends with a golf pro.

Is there some connection between the crime and the world of golf or does that just happen to be the protagonist's profession and his name just happens to be a type of club? With that setup, I feel like the sleuthing must cross into screwball comedy with a chase across the putting green (which would be great), but that doesn't quite come through in the query.

I'd suggest a slight change to the closing hook:

"Now Wood has to decide if he should trust Rains—-who’s a professional liar--or trust his instincts, which haven’t been that good lately. This is That's why you don’t ask a golf pro has no business solving to solve a murder." Nobody asked--he volunteered.

#8 tmcgee86

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 11:50 AM

A good query. Keep the voice. Loose the ellipses.

Are the victims girls or young women? Presumably women if one is old enough to be friends with a golf pro.

Is there some connection between the crime and the world of golf or does that just happen to be the protagonist's profession and his name just happens to be a type of club? With that setup, I feel like the sleuthing must cross into screwball comedy with a chase across the putting green (which would be great), but that doesn't quite come through in the query.

I'd suggest a slight change to the closing hook:

"Now Wood has to decide if he should trust Rains—-who’s a professional liar--or trust his instincts, which haven’t been that good lately. This is That's why you don’t ask a golf pro has no business solving to solve a murder." Nobody asked--he volunteered.


Great advice JMB, thank you very much. And yes, you are correct, the victims are young women, I just didn't like the way that sounded so I put "girls" but I agree now it makes them sound too young. All the victims are in their early 20's.

And actually the golf just happens to be his current profession. I love your idea, but this book isn't that zany, which probably means I need to tone down the voice a little. He's actually a billionaire resort owner that refuses to live like a billionaire because he inherited all of his money when both his parent's died. His uncle (Fiddler) founded the resort after striking it rich in the oil business with Wood's father. Fiddler has raised Wood since he was 10. Despite Fiddler's best efforts, he can't get Wood to settle down and live the life of luxury. So really he's only the golf pro because he refuses to not have a real job and he's done everything else there is to do at the resort (including housekeeping).

And actually, he was asked to solve it, though you are 100% correct in that I didn't mention that in my query so that last line sticks out now. I will have to revise accordingly. Again, thanks for excellent advice.

#9 Cat Woods

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 12:15 PM

On the fly, I love this. It could use a tweak or two of tightening, but you had me hooked all the way through. And I'm going against the grain. I love your last line about not asking a golf pro to solve a murder.

I wouldn't totally revamp or tone down too much. Yes, this is a professional letter, but it's also an invite into your story. You held the door open for us. All it will take is the agent to walk inside.

Best luck.

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#10 JMB77

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 09:59 PM

Looks like you've already gotten a lot of advice on this - the only thing I can suggest is to lose the italics in the first line. I don't think it's necessary. Also, I think I'd replace the em dashes in the second to last paragraph with commas.

#11 tmcgee86

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 11:35 PM

Looks like you've already gotten a lot of advice on this - the only thing I can suggest is to lose the italics in the first line. I don't think it's necessary. Also, I think I'd replace the em dashes in the second to last paragraph with commas.


Awesome advice JMB77, thank you so much for your help.

#12 kevinmont

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 01:42 AM

One of the best examples that I've seen of "show the tone of your novel in your query." Very funny. A really good title, too.

Woodrow? "Wood?" Is that a three-wood or a driver? Very subtle, and clever.

"This is why you don’t ask a golf pro to solve a murder." Never let anyone talk you out of ending your QL with that sentence.

#13 JMB

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 03:01 AM

And actually, he was asked to solve it, though you are 100% correct in that I didn't mention that in my query so that last line sticks out now. I will have to revise accordingly.


Great. Like everyone else, I love the last line so make it work!

#14 tmcgee86

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 01:26 PM

Thanks everyone for your help with this, I really appreciate it. I've tweaked it slightly to try and clean it up a bit and incorporate the suggestions. Please let me know if I tweaked it too much.


Dear Agent,

Most involuntarily committed psychiatric patients are dying to get out of the hospital, not dying when they get out. So when four young women from the same hospital commit suicide within days of their release, Woodrow Newton knows it’s no coincidence—it’s murder. The only question now is how far he's willing to go to prove it.

Woodrow Newton has decided to take a break from his job as Head Golf Pro of Fiddler’s Green—the exclusive beach resort on Padre Island, Texas. Well, technically he was asked to take a sabbatical after a rash of incidents involving fights with clients, but either way he's got some free time on his hands. Which is why Wood's been asked to look into a friend's mysterious death. He quickly becomes convinced that his friend Rebecca Walters did not commit suicide. The only problem is he’s equally convinced of who killed her—Matt Rains.

Rains, the super-lawyer voted "Most Hated Man in the State" by Texas Monthly, has made a career of defending the most vile criminals he can find. He’s also been moonlighting on the mental health docket lately. Wood thinks he’s solved the case when he discovers each victim had Rains as their court-appointed attorney. But when Wood comes home one night to find Rains sitting in his living room, pointing a pistol as him and claiming innocence, he decides he might as well hear him out. You know, just to cover all his bases.

After Rains semi-convinces Wood that he's not a killer, he has one simple request: commit yourself to a psychiatric hospital to help me find the real killer. Now Wood has to decide who he's going to trust: Matt Rains, professional liar, or Wood Newton, professional golfer. This is why you don’t ask a golf pro to solve a murder.

FIDDLER'S GREEN is complete at 96,000 words.

#15 Pete Morin

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 03:06 PM

Gee - here's a few suggestions from my pov:

Thanks everyone for your help with this, I really appreciate it. I've tweaked it slightly to try and clean it up a bit and incorporate the suggestions. Please let me know if I tweaked it too much.


Dear Agent,

Most involuntarily committed psychiatric patients are dying to get out of the hospital, not dying when they get out. So when four young women from the same hospital commit suicide within days of their release, Woodrow Newton knows it’s no coincidence—it’s murder. The only question now is how far he's willing to go to prove it.

Woodrow Newton has decided to take a break from his job as Head Golf Pro of Fiddler’s Green—the exclusive beach resort on Padre Island, Texas. Well, technically he was asked to take a sabbatical after a rash of incidents involving fights with clients, but either way he's got some free time on his hands. Which is why Wood's been asked to look into a friend's mysterious death [this is a little odd - why would an unemployed golf pro be asked to look into a murder? There's got to be a clever way to make this connection - I think it's the "why" that doesn't compute] Upon doing so, he quickly becomes. When he does, he is convinced that his friend Rebecca Walters did not commit suicide. The only problem [the most overused clause in query history] He is equally convinced that the murderer is Matt Rains, the super-lawyer voted "Most Hated Man in the State".

Rains has made a career of defending the most vile criminals he can find. He’s also been moonlighting on the mental health docket lately. Wood thinks he’s solved the case when he discovers each victim had Rains as their court-appointed attorney [solved? Or just into something? That would be a rather large leap]. But when Wood comes home one night to find Rains sitting in his living room, pointing a pistol at him and claiming innocence, he decides he might as well hear him out. You know, just to cover all his bases.

After Rains semi-convinces Wood that he's not a killer, he has one simple request: commit yourself to a psychiatric hospital to help me find the real killer. Now Wood has to decide who he's going to trust, Matt Rains, professional liar, or Wood Newton, professional golfer. This is why you don’t ask a golf pro to solve a murder. [I like this closing line]

FIDDLER'S GREEN is complete at 96,000 words.


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#16 tmcgee86

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 04:05 PM

Wow, thanks Pete, great tips. Can't wait to incorporate them.

#17 tmcgee86

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 12:21 PM

Here's the latest version. Thanks to everyone here I was able to tweak it and this version just garnered my first response!

Dear Agent,

When you're staring down the barrel of a silenced pistol, you'll pretty much agree to anything. Wood Newton agreed to commit himself to a mental hospital.

Woodrow Newton has decided to take a break from his job as Head Golf Pro of Fiddler’s Green—the exclusive beach resort on Padre Island, Texas. Well, technically he was forced to take a sabbatical after a rash of incidents (fights) with clients. Either way, he's been asked to look into a friend's mysterious death and it just so happens he's got some free time on his hands.

Wood is convinced his friend Rebecca Walters did not commit suicide. Psychiatric patients are usually dying to get out of the hospital, not dying when they get out. When Rebecca and four other young women commit suicide after being successfully released from the same area hospital, Wood starts to think it's no coincidence—it’s murder. Trouble is, he also thinks he knows who's responsible—super-lawyer Matt Rains.

Wood discovers that Rains served as court-appointed attorney for each victim's commitment hearing. Rains, the criminal defense attorney voted "Most Hated Man in the State" by Texas Monthly, is undefeated, untouchable, undeniably over-qualified for the mental health docket. Unfortunately, he's also a total recluse. Revenge seeking families will do that to a guy. Which makes it all the more surprising when Wood comes home one night to find Rains sitting in his living room, pointing a pistol at him, and claiming innocence.

Despite being an amateur sleuth, something about the oily sheen on the silencer tells Wood he might as well hear him out, you know, just to cover all his bases. Desperate for exoneration, Rains has one simple request: commit yourself to a psychiatric hospital to help me find the real killer. Now Wood has to decide who he's going to trust: Matt Rains, professional liar, or Wood Newton, professional... golfer. This is why you don't ask a golf pro to solve a murder.

FIDDLER'S GREEN, is complete at 96,000 words. I'm a probate and guardianship attorney in Galveston, Texas. I specialize in mental health law and have served as the court-appointed attorney on hundreds of mental health commitments. This is my first novel. It should appeal to readers of John D. MacDonald, Carl Hiaasen, and Randy Wayne White.

Thank you for your time and consideration,




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