It's Sunday evening. A long day of driving is over, the thunderstorms have passed and I'm sitting out in my screened-in porch (call it a 3 seasons room) watching bratwurst sizzle on the grill while Spoon beats out an alternative tune on my stereo. My mind just returned to a novel I just picked up after a long wait in my to be read pile. Since this novel is by an author I know and like, I'll not mention names to protect the not-so-innocent.
The novel starts out like a good suspense should. Heavy on the action. In fact it starts with a woman in the hands of a killer. The writing is explicit. Details honed to a fine edge. It's like being a voyeur peeking through a thin slit in the blinds.
Excuse me a second while I grab my tongs, slide open the screen door and flip my brats.
Thanks for waiting. Now back to that first chapter.
The story begins with a woman jogging in the park. As she turns into a wooded area, she hears footsteps behind her and quickens her pace. The author finely crafts the scene, making you feel the trepidation of the woman as her instincts tell her something is wrong... Something bad is about to happen.
I'm completely drawn in. I'm hooked. This is going to be a great read.
EXCEPT! As the knife is about to plunge into the terrified woman, she wakes from a dream.
DAMN, DAMN, DAMN.
I felt like I had been sucker punched. Great action with details woven in that surely come into play through the rest of the novel and I want to throw it against the wall. Yes, I feel like I've been cheated. My mind snaps back to that prime time soap opera Dallas and the 1985/86 "DREAM" season when Bobby Ewing died.
I remember how cheated I felt then, and I feel no less cheated now. Maybe being a writer has made me too critical a reader, but I just feel like sometimes authors take the easy way out. Someone as talented as the author in question shouldn't have to resort to gimmicks to start a novel with a bang. Of course, maybe the dream is intended to be part of the story, but at this point, I'm not sure I'll pick the damn thing back up.
I need to sauce up my brats with a little Sweet Baby Ray's, so I ask you what you think? Cheating or not?