Book ReviewsThe Internet Writing Journal, October 1997
1998 Writer's Market | First Degree Burn | Getting Hooked
First Degree Burn, by Peter Lance
New York: Berkley, 1997.
361 pp. ISBN 0-425-15698-2
Mass market paperback.
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In Manhattan, a sociopathic serial arsonist nicknamed "Superman" torches a historic Lower East Side row house in a horrible act of arson which kills an infant and severely injures New York Fire Marshall Eddie Burke.
Peter Lance, in his novel debut, has penned a winner which sizzles with excitement and scorching, non-stop action. Eddie Burke is a hero for the 90s. Reeling from a painful divorce and fighting to stay out of the shadow of his legendary hero-cop father, Eddie is a complex man with hints of being a romantic at heart whose passion for the truth could easily get him killed. Lance creates equally fascinating female characters with his creation of the troubled art history professor Caroline Drexel and Auschwitz survivor and therapist Dr. Helen Liebman, who becomes mentor and mother figure to the beautiful, rich, but tortured Caroline. Lance deftly plays on stereotypes of the beautiful but weak female leads of older, traditional hardboiled novels and turns the stereotypes upside down. Caroline has reserves of strength that are particularly exhibited in one hilarious scene in the hospital where she successfully does battle with a bureaucratic ER nurse who is more interested in filling out insurance forms than in saving the injured Eddie's life.
Meticulously researched and written with the authority that one would expect from an award-winning investigative journalist who went undercover in Chicago in the mid-80's to crack an arson-for-profit ring, First Degree Burn is jam-packed with fascinating details of both the underbelly and the top strata of New York society. Lance deftly weaves a fascinating tale of a mystery involving a lost mural painted in the 1930's that holds a deadly secret and a mysterious dream with the gut-wrenching story of Eddie's relationships with his father and with Caroline (who has her own demons), without ever losing the threads of these different themes. Lance's eye for detail, his brilliance at painting a vivid picture of the sounds and scenes of New York and his gift for storytelling add up to a fascinating book that is impossible to put down. Whether you're a hardboiled fan, thriller fan or a mystery fan there's something for everyone in this outstanding debut. Welcome, Eddie Burke, we're glad to have you.
--Claire E. White
Writer's Digest Books
1084 pp. ISBN 0898798027
Book and CD ROM Version
Note: This book is published annually. For the latest edition be sure to check the latest Writer's Market listing in the Writer's Bookstore.
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The 1998 Writer's Market® is a massive resource for the freelance writer. Editor Kirsten C. Holm and the Writer's Digest staff have done a superlative job of collecting great quantities of all kinds of paying markets for writers.
The book can be purchased with or without the CD-ROM, or the CD-ROM may be purchased alone. A typical CD-ROM for an interactive game may cost you $50-60 U.S. The book alone has a list price of $27.99; the book & CD-ROM together as a set has a list price of $49.99, so you are getting the CD-ROM for an additional $22.00, although the CD-ROM alone retails for $39.99. Considering the fact that a typical CD- ROM interactive game may cost you $50-$60 U.S., this CD ROM is a great value when purchased with the book.
The CD-ROM allows you to search the listings by a number of criteria. For example, for book publishers search criteria include: number of books published per year, location, formats, types of rights purchased, and genres published. The Writer's Encyclopedia is also included. The electonic version also allows you to create your own custom market database and allows you to track your submissions. The only drawback is that at this time there is not a way to download upgrades online: perhaps this feature will be available in the future. With its handy search tools and comprehensive market listings, the CD-ROM is an invaluable tool for the working writer.
System Requirements for CD-ROM: Windows® 3.1 or later, 486DX/66, 8MB RAM, 640x840, 256 color display, mouse, MS-DOS 5.1 or later, 15MB available hard disk space, double speed CD-ROM drive.
Paperback, 1996, $7.95 U.S.
"We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge."
--John D. MacDonald, Darker Than Amber, 1996.
Ever wonder how other people came up with that killer first line for their novel? This interesting little gem, edited by Florida author and journalist Sharon Rendell-Smock, takes a look at the best opening lines from novels from the 1950s to the 1990s, along with trends and world events that were happening at the time the novel was published.