This is a (slightly revised since the title of my novel changed) copy of the query letter that I sent out during my search for an agent. My agent search began during the late spring/early summer of 2014. When I began my search for agents who represent mysteries and were looking for new clients, I used agentquery.com. On agentquery.com, you’re able to search the listed agents by genres. It also says whether the agent is currently accepting new clients. It’s a very easy site to use, and is a good starting point. After I had a list of agents who represent mystery novels, I began searching the agency websites for more information. It’s very important to do your research before contacting agents. In my case, some agents only represent cozy mysteries. Since Criminal Misdeeds is not a cozy, it would have been a waste of time to contact agents who only represent cozies. Once I had narrowed down the list of agents that I got off of agentquery.com, I chose the five who I thought I might have the best chance with. One of those agents was Jessica Alvarez with BookEnds, LLC. I don’t know what it was, but even before I emailed her my query letter and sample chapter, I knew she was the one. Turns out my gut was right. Yes, I got lucky. Jessica fell in love with Criminal Misdeeds and Detective Carrie Shatner, and by July 2014, I signed on with BookEnds, LLC. My quest to find an agent turned out to be an easy one. The quest to find a publisher was not. But that’s another story…
Criminal Misdeeds, a 90,000 word mystery novel, highlights a family of Texas outlaws. The Shatners grow pot, distill moonshine, and break minor laws. While Detective Carrie Shatner’s moral compass doesn’t exactly point north, she’s tried to distance herself from the criminal activities and misdeeds of her family until she is required to cover them up. It’s when a dead body turns up at her family’s New Year’s Eve Party that Carrie is forced to take a step back and look at herself and her family. To make matters worse, the victim is a member of the Palmer family – a family that the Shatners have been feuding with since the Civil War. The only comfort Carrie can take away from the situation is that the victim was murdered elsewhere and dumped at the fairgrounds. Unable to conduct the investigation by herself, Carrie teams up with Texas Ranger Jerrod Hardy. Though hesitant to allow one of his suspects help him on the case, Hardy knows that if he doesn’t invite Carrie to work with him, she will work against him in her quest to prove her family’s collective innocence and find the killer. At first, the evidence all seems to point to Carrie’s cousin, Dale, who lacks an alibi but also a motive. Convinced that Dale didn’t kill anyone, Carrie sets out to find the person attempting to frame the Shatners for a crime even they wouldn’t commit. While Carrie works alongside Hardy in the official investigation, desperation and family obligation force her to go behind Hardy’s back to protect the people she loves. Unable to find anyone with motive, means, and opportunity, Carrie and Hardy find themselves stumped until a second body is discovered. It quickly becomes obvious that the two victims are linked, and the only person with motive for both murders is Cousin Dale, whose lack of an alibi continues to haunt him.
Criminal Misdeeds is the first novel in what I hope will be a series starring Carrie Shatner and Jerrod Hardy. I have outlined a second novel, and I have ideas for more.
Attached, please find the prologue and first chapter of Criminal Misdeeds.
Please let me know if I can send you the rest of the novel for consideration.