I thought we’d do something a little different, a little fun.
I’ve listed thirty-six first sentences from classic novels and mystery-thrillers. See how many you can identify by the first sentence alone. Give the title of the book and the author.
And it’s not fair to Google them. No fair, no way. We’ll do this on the Honor System.
I’ll give all the answers at the end of the day. Whoever gets the most right wins a signed, hardcopy of my novel BEAT.
If there’s a tie, I’ll pick the winner from a hat.
* * *
1. The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call “out there.”
2. I’d finished my pie and was having a second cup of coffee when I saw him.
3. Call me Ishmael.
4. I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…
5. When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
6. I can feel the heat closing in, feel them out there making their moves, setting up their devil doll stool pigeons, crooning over my spoon and dropper…
7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.
8. Fuck you.
9. I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up.
10. I sent one boy to the gaschamber at Huntsville.
11. To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.
12. The year 1866 was marked by a strange occurrence, an unexplained and inexplicable phenomenon that surely no one has forgotten.
13. One sultry evening early in July a young man emerged from the small furnished room he occupied in a large five-storied house in Sennoy Lane, and turned slowly, with an air of indecision, towards the Kalininksy bridge.
14. You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.
15. The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of The Dancers.
16. Howard Roark laughed.
17. I’d been hearing about the Tennis Club for years, but I’d never been inside of it.
18. It was good standing there on the promontory overlooking the evening sea, the fog lifting itself like gauzy veils to touch his face.
19. It was a pleasure to burn.
20. He lay flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and high overhead the wind blew in the tops of the pine trees.
21. Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the popholes.
22. The hall ahead is dark, a tunnel of black.
23. Foley had never seen a prison where you could walk right up to the fence without getting shot.
24. Coming back from the dead isn’t as easy as they make it seem in the movies.
25. When she was home from her boarding school I used to see her almost every day sometimes, because their house was right opposite the Town Halle Annexe.
26. They threw me off the hay truck about noon.
27. Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P—, in Kentucky.
28. It was daybreak and the rancher, standing at his kitchen window, watched two silhouettes stagger forward through the desert scrub.
29. Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth.
30. In the corner of a first-class smoking carriage, Mr. Justice Wargrave, lately retired from the bench, puffed at a cigar and ran an interested eye through the political news in The Times.
31. Everybody lies.
32. Her stomach clutched at the sight of the water tower hovering above the still, bare trees, a spaceship come to earth.
33. Behavioral Science, the FBI section that deals with serial murder, is on the bottom floor of the Academy building at Quantico, half-buried in the earth.
34. “That’s torn it!” said Lord Peter Wimsey.
35. “I am inclined to think–” said I.
36. “Tush, never tell me; I take it much unkindly, that you, Iago, who has had my purse, as if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.”