Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

In 2016

First Lines

  1. Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78.
  2. ‘I believe the question, then,’ says Vasily Yaroslav, ‘ is one of intent.’
  3. Somewhere around mile three on the trek up the hill Pitry Suturashni decides he would not describe the Javrati sun as ‘warm and relaxing,’ as all the travel advertisements say.
  4. Imagine a landscape.
  5. ‘This was not the first bomb threat, correct?’
  6. Sully pulled the thin wad of bills from his pocket and counted.
  7. I can hear the sound of her crunching up the path.
  8. First light.
  9. Goddamned freezing cold.
  10. Evening crept its way into the cabin, and she went to get the knife.
  11. I buy violets for Amy.
  12. When I found my husband at the bottom of the stairs, I tried to resuscitate him before I ever considered disposing of the body.
  13. At last! It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for, dear readers: the opening of the latest and greatest Trial of the Century, and I don’t mind telling you it’s as hot as blazes inside this undersized Connecticut courtroom.
  14. When Sara Hill’s body washed up on shore, the police concluded – logically, given the lack of injuries – that she must have accidentally fallen overboard and drowned.
  15. The night I arrived at Oxford, I learned that my dorm room was built in 1361 and had originally been used to quarantine victims of the plague.
  16. I am a girl of definitions, of logic, of black and white.
  17. It happened for the first time on a Tuesday afternoon, a warm spring day in the flatlands near Hollywood, a light breeze moving east from the ocean and stirring the black-eyed pansy petals newly planted in our flower boxes.
  18. In March 1793 Gilbert Stuart crossed the North Atlantic for the express purpose of of painting President George Washington, the supreme prize of any age for any ambitious portrait artist.
  19. Josianne’s gift is a simple square box, its sides about as long as her forearm.
  20. Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.
  21. If you asked me how it began, I could truthfully say that the first time, it was an accident.
  22. If you live around New Orleans and they think a hurricane might be coming, all hell breaks loose.
  23. Suzannah Ruggieri blew into Valentine, Inc., like a category five hurricane.
  24. Although it had been over sixty years since the occupation — and more than four thousand miles separated her from Rosmarina — Nona Vinka was convinced that the reprisal would take place that afternoon.
  25. Robert’s familiar rap on the door came as I was studying a miniature portrait of myself.
  26. My entire life is a lie.
  27. How big was the hand?
  28. She didn’t know what woke her, and no matter how many times she relived that night, no matter where the nightmare chased her, she never would.
  29. Her name is Melanie.
  30. ‘Wake up, genius.’
  31. Later, after supper and evening prayer, and bath if it was bath night, and then the final negotiations to conclude the day (Please, Sister, can’t we stay up a little longer? Please, one more story?), when the children had fallen asleep at least and everything was very still, Amy watched them.
  32. Detective Inspector Ray Stevens stood next to the window and contemplated his office chair, on which an arm had been broken for at least a year.
  33. She did not leave the school until an hour after the last child had gone home, but for all that she was departing early.
  34. There are children playing soccer on a field at Gettysburg where the Union Army lost the first day’s fight.
  35. They finally found the body on a Sunday night, sometime between 60 Minutes and Married With Children.
  36. The bus smelled of mildew, machine oil, and sweat.
  37. Okoloma was one of my greatest childhood friends.
  38. In hindsight, I should have known right away that something wasn’t quite right.
  39. “In Styria, we, though by no means magnificent people, inhabit a castle, or a schloss.
  40. The exorcist is dead.
  41. A private plane sits on a runway in Martha’s Vineyard, forward stairs deployed.
  42. The ground yielded easily under her blade, unlocking a black smell of earth.
  43. Bailey Chen was taking care of some serious business.
  44. Pip stands behind her mother in the tiny bathroom.
  45. It begins with the Ford idling up the narrow drive, the sweet drone of honeysuckle thickening the August air.
  46. He stood in the corner shop with rainwater dribbling off his anorak, looking for the cheapest box of beers.
  47. When Gram calls, I ignore it.
  48. Vlad Dracul’s heavy brow descended like a storm when the doctor informed him that his wife had given birth to a girl.
  49. Irene passed the mop across the stone floor in smooth, careful strokes, idly admiring the gleam of wet flagstones in the lantern-light.
  50. There wasn’t much in the world Cooper McQueen cared about more than a good bourbon.
  51. Kellie Scott frowned, her fingers hesitating over her keyboard.
  52. I’m thinking of ending things.
  53. The first one on the production team to die will be the editor.
  54. At that very moment, in the very sort of Park Avenue co-op apartment that so obsessed the Mayor…twelve-foot ceilings…two wings, one for the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who own the place and one for the help…Sherman McCoy was kneeling in his front hall trying to put a leash on a dachshund.
  55. I didn’t set out to lose myself.
  56. I was lost, hopelessly, irretrievably lost.
  57. The house was over a hundred years old, and the solid stone walls were at least a meter thick, which meant that she probably didn’t need to insulate them, but she wanted to be be absolutely sure.
  58. They were on the road later than they intended.
  59. The first inkling that something was wrong was waking in darkness to find the cat pawing at my face.
  60. We don’t take a horse-drawn cab to his office.
  61. From two thousand feet, where Claudette Sanders was taking a flying lesson, the town of Chester’s Mill gleamed in the morning light like something freshly made and just set down.
  62. The heat came with the devil.
  63. Annie is not at all happy with the way that Gus is smiling in the photo.
  64. ‘So,’ said the young priest.
  65. Four hundred years spent sowing terror and discord across the globe, and now I was forced to use a communal shower.
  66. They are quite clear about it.
  67. I am not of this world.
  68. I sat up high, oak branch ‘tween my knees, and watched the tattooed man stride about in the snow.
  69. It was such an incredible amount, 5,700,000 kroner.
  70. A dead bolt has a very specific sound.
  71. He followed her through the woods behind the house.
  72. I love Thursday nights.
  73. I know what you’re thinking.
  74. Like most fast-talking, opinionated New Yorkers, I have an affinity for sarcasm.
  75. ‘This is a story that begins with a barbecue,’ said Clementine.
  76. Antoinette Martin stood in the kitchen, staring at the alarm above the back door.
  77. Lifting the flowers, letting them drop.
  78. The first time Caesar approached Cora about running north, she said no.
  79. The boy was beautiful.
  80. The champagne bottle knocks against the marble kitchen counter, making me jump.
  81. William Tillman was born in Milford, Delaware, about 1834.
  82. We were driving east on Route 15 when the world first learned of the coming storms.
  83. The Ouija board was Lily’s idea.
  84. It was a pity about the poison in her wine-glass, Irene reflected.
  85. “Nori keeps asking me where I’m going, what I’m doing, where Mam is.
  86. Annie Bell awoke in the blue darkness before dawn, her nightdress in a damp tangle at her knees.
  87. ‘Do you have everything you need, Mackenzie?’ Mum asked, watching me stuff clothes in a bag.
  88. In the town of Martinsburg on the lower tip of the Valley, a seventeen-year-old rebel named Belle Boyd sat by the windows of her wood-frame home, waiting for the war to come to her.
  89. Dear Mr. M, I’d like to start by telling you that I’m doing better now.
  90. A young queen stands barefoot on a wooden block with her arms outstretched.
  91. I’ve always been good at playing a part: the mysterious seductress for the sleazebag, the doe-eyed innocent for the protector.
  92. Walter the cook killed himself in his little bedroom downstairs, just a few hours after saying good-night.
  93. I claw at the thick, inky, black veins that have spread through my arm and arch over my shoulder.
  94. Whatever Mum’s saying’s drowned out by the grimy roar of the bus pulling away, revealing a pub called The Fox and Hounds.
  95. Escape: That was what Gemma dreamed of, especially on nights like this one, when the moon was so big and bright it looked like it was a set piece in a movie, hooked outside her window on a curtain of dark night sky.” OR “On very still nights sometimes we can hear them chanting, calling for us to die.
  96. I am running.
  97. Representation is important.
  98. We were discouraged from having pets — or, for that matter, husbands or even boyfriends, and the same went for the men, none of whom were married as far as anybody knew.
  99. Beyond the sunrise, halfway to the moon, and so very far away it would make your feet weep to think about it, lies a land vast in size and deep in sadness.
  100. We were made, once.
  101. I placed my thumb and forefinger on the icy flesh, spreading it taut above the breastbone as Uncle had showed me.
  102. Ghosts didn’t have much substance.
  103. I disembarked a train at the little log depot at Gordon Bay, Oregon, and a sudden force – a charging bull – immediately slammed me to the ground.
  104. For an instant, like a single beat of wings, Annika scented the sea, heard the voices lifted in song.
  105. The first time I lay with the post boy was on a Sunday, and I broke three commandments to do it.
  106. The scythe arrived late on a cold November afternoon.
  107. The forest had become a labyrinth of snow and ice.
  108. She fell in love with a puppet.
  109. My wife and I began searching for a house in 2008, precisely when the real estate market was crashing, just as those first waves of foreclosures and short sales were hitting the market.
  110. Everyone believed Diabolics were fearless, but in my earliest years, all I knew was fear.
  111. If all the Saturdays of 1982 can be thought of as one day, I met Tracey at ten a.m. on that Saturday, walking through the sandy gravel of a churchyard, each holding our mother’s hand.
  112. In February, when the snow comes down hard, little globes of light are left along Route 110, on the side of the road that slopes off when a driver least expects it.
  113. Arden Lindsey realized too late that she was shouting.
  114. Kelsea Glynn sat very still, watching the troop approach her homestead.
  115. Dawn came quickly on the Mort border.
  116. Like most small children, I learned my home address so that if I got lost, I could tell a grown-up where to take me.
  117. For a brief period, Kelsea had made a practice of opening her eyes whenever the wagon hit a bump.
  118. I admit, I had seen a ghost or two.
  119. When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic.
  120. The Angeles air was quiet, and for a while I lay still, listening to the sound of Maxon’s breathing.
  121. This time we were in the Great Room enduring another etiquette lesson when bricks came flying through the window.
  122. When Laura was two, the twins decided to kill her.
  123. It was May, 1968 and there was a woman on a train.
  124. Two days after a snowshoeing couple literally stumbled across Joy’s body in the woods at the edge of the pond, the police came to ask Harper questions.
  125. A man who couldn’t die had little to fear.
  126. My sister decided we had to go see her estranged husband in Reno.
  127. It started with a phone call, deceptively simple and easy to ignore.
  128. If she ever had to talk about it, which she never would, Katie would have to go back, back years before it happened.
  129. It’s not that I never think about Paul.
  130. Running away sucked.
  131. If you have your choice about how to be turned into vampire, I strongly suggest that you do not post an ad on the supernatural version of Craigslist offering cash to any creature of the night willing to bite you.
  132. Micah Henry Shughrue awoke into a darkness so thick it was like all nights folded together.
  133. Everyone in the county presumed that my mother’s body was decaying — becoming porridge — at the bottom of the Gale River.