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.”