R.E. Donald

author of the Hunter Rayne Highway Mysteries series


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Memorable first lines of mystery novels – what’s your favorite?

As a reader, you love a book that grabs your interest from the first line and doesn’t let go.  We’ve all seen the classic first lines from classic novels, like Dickens’ “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times” or “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

But I read – and write – mysteries.  There’s nothing like a good mystery to pique my interest.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a master at creating great first lines for his stories, lines that introduce a mystery and make you want to read on.  Here is one I consider his best.

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.  A Scandal in Bohemia

Here are a few more opening sentences I found interesting:

The lady was extraordinarily naked.  Eight Black Horses by Ed McBain

Theodore is in the ground.  The Alienist by Caleb Carr

“What in the world, Wimsey, are you doing in this Morgue?”  The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers

How about you?  Submit some of your favorites below, and be sure to include the book title and author’s name.

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