Query Hack: Critique #17 – Adult Thriller

Dear Query Hack,

SOUVENIR is an adult thriller complete at 101K words.

A Jewish-American attorney in Atlanta, Hannah jumps at the chance to close a highly lucrative deal in Syria. It was supposed to be a seventy-two hour trip resulting in a promotion. But the allure of the Old City of Damascus, its ancient Souk and Mosque, prove too seductive and dangerous for Hannah.

  • Awesome details here, but I’d love a touch more specifics, particularly what the lucrative deal was (and why she was tempted by it) as well as what you mean by “too seductive and dangerous.” In general, try to provide specific (vs. vague) conflicts in a query/pitch.

She gets caught in the middle of a cross-fire inside Damascus’ holiest mosque. The same mosque that houses the head of John the Baptist. On impulse, to save the ancient treasure, Hannah steals it. It brings her more trouble than she knows. Revered by Christians and Muslims, John the Baptist’s head is also coveted by more malevolent forces: the Assad government, the defiant Syrian rebels, and notorious black market smugglers including the most dangerous of them all, the infamous Mohammad al-Dandachi.

  • Who is Hannah trying to save the treasure from? Who is firing? Need more details. 
  • Be careful on vague sentences, like this one: “It brings her more trouble than she knows.” Instead of hinting at her getting into trouble, reveal either how she got into trouble or how she’s trying to get out of it (which will then lead to the ultimate stakes). 
  • I love that you’ve revealed who is also after the head; however, I think it’s important to learn the following information as well: why these people want the head, what they will do with it once they have it, why the protagonist is trying to keep it from them, and if there are any magical/nonmagical repercussions from the head being stolen. 

With the help of her Syrian driver, Hannah must escape to the nearest American Embassy in Jordan, or face being trapped in Syria’s unending civil war. Or worse, captured by Al-Dandachi, who, as it turns out, wants her head as well.

  • Great movement, but why do they want her head? Because she stole the treasure in the first place? Need more details here. 

I’m a non-practicing research attorney licensed and living in Georgia, where I’m a member of the Atlanta Writers Club and the International Thriller Writers organization (Associate). Conferences I’ve attended: Historical Novel Society North American Conference and the Atlanta Writers Conference. I’m passionate about geopolitics, Labradors, and chocolate.

  • Love the bio, but we probably don’t need a list of writers conferences you’ve attended.

 

 


 

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