Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What's Your Mystery Book-Q?

by Julia Buckley

I decided, since I was making quizzes for my classes (testing seniors who feel existential anyway on the existential-ness of The Stranger) that I would compile a quiz for thee, oh loyal mystery fans and Inkspot readers. Let’s see if you can match ten first lines with ten author/title choices. I will make number one REALLY easy. (And since I'm trying to be impartial, not one is written by an Inkspot author--that will be a whole different quiz. :)

1. “Alexey Fydorovitch Karamazov was the third son of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, a landowner well known in our district in his own day (and still remembered among us) owing to his tragic and obscure death, which happened exactly thirteen years ago, and which I shall describe in its proper place.”

2. “It was dusk when he came to the ferry. He could have been there much earlier. The truth was, he had put it off as long as he could.”

3. “Bob Barnes says they got a dead body out on BLM land. He’s on line one.”

4. “Memory makes desires of its own. Deep in the candle hours it casts Hong Kong up like a shimmering sea of color against flames of ache, fright and wonderment.”

5. “My father had a face that could stop a clock.”

6. “The night air was thick and damp. As I drove south along Lake Michigan, I could smell rotting alewives like a faint perfume on the heavy air.”

7. “Now there’s a pretty girl, Kenneth Strang thought, as he relaxed his efforts to open the porthole of his cabin and glanced down at the cluster of upturned faces planted along the pier’s edge.”

8. “The office of the university president looked like the front parlor of a successful Victorian whorehouse.”

9. “It was a dead time in the London underground—after lunch and before rush hour—when the last plaintive notes of a Chopin nocturne floated from Katie O’Brien’s violin down the tiled corridor.”

10. “Once you get past the overall irony of the situation, you realize that killing a guy in the middle of his own health club has a lot to recommend it.”

Choices: Helen MacInnes, DECISION AT DELPHI; Fyodor Dostoevsky, THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV; Jasper Fforde, THE EYRE AFFAIR; Agatha Christie, ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE; Martha Grimes, THE ANODYNE NECKLACE; Jonathan Gash, THE JADE WOMAN; Sara Paretsky, INDEMNITY ONLY; Craig Johnson, THE COLD DISH; Barry Eisler, HARD RAIN; Robert B. Parker, THE GODWULF MANUSCRIPT.

Okay, how do you think you did? Answers to be posted later. No fair cheating on the internet—but hopefully you’ll find a couple that are so interesting you just have to head to the library and take out those books!


Nina Wright said...

Great topic, Julia! I'm a sucker for sensational opening lines, and some of them are in books.

Love your kitty, too.


G.M. Malliet said...

9 has to be Martha Grimes.

Bill Cameron said...

Oy vey! First, I've only read four out of the ten. Does that make me a bad person? Second, the only one I recognize for sure is the softball you toss over the plate in number one.

I am chagrinned.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Bill, you are not alone. In fact, I've only read ONE of the books and it was said softball in spot #1.

Obviously, we are barbarians.

I'll bet Keith gets them all correct and goes to the head of the class.

Mark Combes said...

Yeah, Keith should have a handicap or something.

But I'll toss in an opening line from a series that after reading it I knew I'd be hooked forever. Maybe you will be too.

Ford saw the vultures from a half mile off; noticed them wheeling over the island like leaves in a summer thermal, dozens of black shapes spiraling, and he thought, what in the hell has Bafe gotten himself into?

Sanibel Flats - Randy Wayne White

You read openings like that and you know you are in for a swell ride.

Mark Terry said...

White's latest, "Black Widow" is particularly good, too.

I've only read 3 or 4 of those. #1, as everyone is saying, is a softball.

I'm pretty sure #4 is the Barry Eisler. #6 is probably Sara Paretsky. #8 is definitely Robert B. Parker's "Godwulf Manuscript" because I remember the line.

Felicia Donovan said...

Julia, great post. I feel like I landed on "Are You Smarter Than a Twelfth-Grader?" and clearly I'm not.

I got the Christie one if that wins me anything. If it's a new car, I'll donate it to Sue Ann since her car's been kind of hot lately. And by hot, I don't mean "stolen."

Keith Raffel said...

Me get all 10? Are you nuts? But I'm pretty sure I can tell you that #6 is not Barry. (Try #10.)

Cozy Crime said...

what a great idea for a quiz!

Anonymous said...

Hard Rain!! Well.... I got one :D

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Hey, thanks, Felicia. I'll gladly take any offered wheels at this point.

For those of you wondering what she means, I had a hot weekend. My car went up in flames ... while I was driving it! Photos at www.sueannjaffarian.blogspot.com.

Julia Buckley said...

Okay, everyone! Thanks for playing. Here's who's right so far: All of you Russian lit experts are right in saying that Karamazov is #1. I hoped you would pick up on the subtle clues. :)

GM is correct: #9 is the Martha Grimes opener.

Mark, you are correct in saying that #6 is Sara Paretsky and #8 is Robert B. Parker; however, you are wrong about Eisler--

KEITH is correct, in that the Barry Eisler book begins with the line in #10.

Felicia, you said you got the Christie, but you didn't tell us which number it is!

So far, you've all identified five of the ten. Anyone care to guess the remaining ones?


And Mark C, that's a very cool opening line.

jbstanley said...

What fun! I've only read three of these. I'm so embarrassed! Can't wait to see the answers and this makes me certain that you must be a ball to have as a teacher.

Nina Wright said...

#5 is Jasper Fforde's EYRE AFFAIR. I listened to it on tape, possibly the best way to read that one since it's such a romp!

I second JB's motion, Julia, that you must be the English teacher everybody wants to have.

Julia Buckley said...

Nina is correct! #5 is Jasper Fforde.

The rest are:

#2: Agatha Christie
#3: Craig Johnson
#4: Jonathan Gash

#7: Helen MacInnes

Thanks for playing our game! None of you should feel bad, because they're pretty random choices, but I wanted to see if people could guess based on style. Good job!

And thanks for the compliments regarding my teaching, although I'm sure I'm considered just as boring as the next educator. :)