In today’s NYT op-ed section, Stanley Fish browses the mystery section*, and we learn that the greatest minds in America face the same problems buying a book you do: The jacket copy’s unreliable, the blurbs even more so, but first sentences will almost always steer you right.
Among the books he dismisses on the basis of bad (for him) openings are Rain Fall by Barry Eisler and Roses Are Red by James Patterson; what he likes is Elizabeth George‘s What Came Before He Shot Her. (Contacted for a response, Eisler wrote back to say that he enjoyed Fish’s article: “Look, no one’s work appeals to everyone. Stanley just didn’t like that (misquoted) sentence; that happens, and it would be silly for me to hold it against him. He sounds like a thoughtful guy.”) Anybody got a lead on where the sentence “Stromose was in high school when he met the boy who would someday murder his wife and son” comes from? Google was singularly unhelpful not only for the exact phrase, but for all sorts of words searched for in conjunction with “Stromose,” which you’d have thought would make things easier…
UPDATE: Sarah double-checked and the mystery opening line belongs to T. Jefferson Parker‘s STORM RUNNERS, just out from William Morrow. “Stromose” is actually misspelled; it should be “Stromsoe,” who is the protagonist of Parker’s book.
*It’s TimesSelect, so you might not be able to read it all.