The Killer Hook

Being very disciplined (for once), I only bought ONE book at Harrogate this year. It was The Final Silence by Stuart Neville. It’s the first of Stuart’s books that I’ve read, and I was very pleased to be introduced to him by Steve Cavanagh, and get my book signed with a lovely message, wishing me luck with my own book, Black Wood.

So why did I choose to buy this book? Simple: The killer hook.

Rea Carlisle has inherited a house from an uncle she never knew. It doesn’t take her long to clear out the dead man’s remaining possessions, but one room remains stubbornly locked. When Rea finally forces it open she discovers inside a chair, a table – and a leather-bound book. Inside its pages are locks of hair, fingernails: a catalogue of victims.

A catalogue of victims. Brilliant, just bloody brilliant.

I read this book in two sittings. The Belfast setting was dark and stunning. The writing is beautiful, the effect is cinematic. Old secrets come back to haunt everyone in this book, and it is tragic and fascinating and I didn’t want it to end.

I did get another book at Harrogate (it was a free review copy) – and it was another one with one of those annoyingly brilliant hooks:

From The Bookseller: “The novel is a commuter’s story, involving glimpses into what is happening in the houses the train speeds past.”

That was it… that was enough for me. Another strikingly simple hook that you wish you’d thought of first… It’s a fantastic book too. The voice of Rachel, the main character, is captivating. The whole thing is a mystery that unravels so slowly, yet so perfectly that it is almost impossible to stop reading.

It’s out in January, and here’s the full, tantalising blurb…

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

Coming up with that hook is the key to getting your book noticed. if you can describe it succinctly and leave the potential reader begging to know more, then you’ve nailed it. Then you just have to hope you don’t disappoint in the execution…