Book Jacket

 

rank 1427
word count 14376
date submitted 21.05.2008
date updated 29.12.2013
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Horror, Crime
classification: universal
incomplete

Lurking in the Shadows

Olga Segal

Stephani is being stalked while mourning the death of her family

 

While mourning the death of her husband and son, Senior Tissue Engineer, Stephani Robbins, is plagued by reoccurring visions of a child being locked up in a chicken coop. Meanwhile, photos that were taken without Stephani's knowledge start to show up in the mail. As more photos appear, Stephanie becomes worried and is eventually kidnapped. While imprisoned she discovers why she has been having these visions and it is more chilling than she ever imagined. Can she make it out alive?

Story completed. 80,000 words
Lurking in the Shadows was nominated for an award in Oct/Nov 2009. I came runner up and I'm very grateful for that.
http://www.campanella-awards.webs.com/nominees.html

I'm happy to do swap reads.
I will get to anyone who has commented on my story. I always return reads.
Thanks to Bradley Wind for the cover art.

 
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tags

kathy reichs, mystery, patricia cornwell, thriller

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457 comments

 

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billysunday wrote 993 days ago

I am reading Cornwall's Scarpetta Factor right now and your novel reminded me of her style. Are you in the medical field? You write with such authority. Liked the opening dialogue-have had the same conversations about real estate too. Great lead up on the creepy photos. Makes me want to read more. Nice job and good luck.
Dina of The Last Degree and Halo of the Damned

Joshua Jacobs wrote 1002 days ago

I love your first two sentences. They create an immediate sense of tension. The following sentences maintain that tension well. The short, polished, staccato sentences make for an exciting writing style. Nice job gripping your readers attention right away. And what a way to end the prologue! Now I need to know what happens. I'm not usually a fan of prologues, but yours is so powerfully written and to-the-point that I loved it.

Once into chapter one, I love the exchange between Stephani and Richard. There's good chemistry between them, and there's some solid characterization as they chat. Stephani is uptight and serious but likeable nonetheless. I'm always intrigued by this type of character. She's someone I could spend a few hundred pages with. And Richard's protectiveness makes him immediately relatable.

The envelope with the two photographs hooked me again. There's obviously something fishy about them that is being withheld from the reader for now. Curious. I was right there with Stephani, mentally begging Richard to bugger off so she could look at the photographs again.

"My Princess. My one and only love" gave me chills. Creepy!

I'm impressed with how polished and tightly written this is. It flows smoothly, and I had virtually no problems with the narrative. I eventually got swept away by your story and ability to write that I stopped taking notes. You're definitely talented.

The fact you write from the creeper's perspective in chapter two is fascinating. Nice way to keep your reader hooked!

Suggestions: This is already so well done, I had very few suggestions. How about "Her back ached" instead of "her back was aching"? Is it possible to end with a stronger hook at the end of chapter one? Almost everything else about this opening is outstanding, so I felt the ending of the chapter was a little underwhelming.

Typos: You're missing an end quote in "I'll go." "Half-finished" should be hyphenated since it's two words serving as one adjective. "She" should be lower-case in "Mm," she shrugged. Should be: "iPhone."

This is an outstanding start. If I didn't have other things to do today, I would still be reading. I would love to know when this is published so I can buy a copy. Highly rated and recommended!

delhui wrote 1410 days ago

Dear Olga --

We probably cannot add much to the crits or comments you've received at this point, so we'll just tell you that we like the contrast between the ordinary -- as when Pud is worrying about the frozen pizzas -- and the horrific -- the fact that he's just killed that poor girl and stolen her hair clip as a trophy. You manage this throughout (even in chapter 1 when Stephani keeps fumbling with the slides), and it's these small details that help bring your characters and their world to life. Pleased to back this excellent thriller. -- Delhui, The Long Black Veil

Daniel Manning wrote 1415 days ago

Driven to the very edge of torment and suffering are the common bonds which seen to glue the stalker and the victim together in this riveting spellbinding thriller. The tension is almost palpable from the different perspectives, and we have nothing to celebrate with regard Stephani being almost totally unaware that the misfortune and tragedy surrounding her, is far from her own doing. Even the cops are suspicious she killed her own child and husband.
Great story backed with pleasure.
Daniel Manning
No Compatibility.

carlashmore wrote 1417 days ago

I can certainly see why this was nominated for a Campanella award. It is absolutely riveting. Your premise is most intriguing. I'm not usually a fan of first person being used in pitches but this works very well. I found your prologue both enigmatic and gripping and reading your first three chapters I can see that there is nothing I could say to improve this. It is highly polished and reminded me of 'Tell No One' by Harlen Coben. A great thriller, in my opinion. There is some thing about your descriptions that I just love - 'wet stained fabric under her armpits'. i am sorry I can't offer anything more constructive than praise but i really do think this top notch stuff.
Carl
The Time Hunters

AliyaM.books wrote 17 hours ago

So I continued to chapter 2, and boy some intense stuff. I like the point of view, very unique! Your writing is really good and so is your dialogue. Good work here! I'm interested to continue!

Sebnem wrote 40 days ago

Lurking in the Shadows
Olga Segal

Review
Chapters 1-2

I don’t know who the guy in the Prologue is, but maybe it’s Pud or Puddles. He does something to the brakes of the car and the child and the father drive away.

Chapter 1 takes us to the Laboratory where Stephani works and she receives the strange photos in the mail; of her, in the company car park, and of her niece. She shudders and thanks to Richard, her colleague, calls the police.

Chapter 2 very effective psycho scene. Pud is developing Stephani’s photos. His mother is quite like ‘Psycho’s mother, appalling and horrible. Run down house, unkempt and strange mother, he hates. And he’s dreaming of Stephani living with him there. Why the child’s photos? We don’t know…intriguing….

The ingredients of a good thriller are building in these two chapters. I will return.

Best wishes,

Sebnem
The Child of Heaven

AliyaM.books wrote 41 days ago

Loving this! You have a lot of intrigue which makes people continue reading. I love your opening scene, especially! Seriously creepy and I couldn't put it down. You also have a good mixture of dialogue and action which is good instead oversummerizing it. Good work!

rikasworld wrote 43 days ago

Nice creepy writing. I thought ch. 2 was particularly strong, great relationship with the mother. The 'princess' references are truly chilling.
Very well written, I think. I did notice one typo. In the Prologue, I think it should be 'as if on cue' wrong kind cue/queue.

Tina Webb wrote 74 days ago

Olga,
I read all of the chapters that you uploaded here. Wow! You've got a thriller with a level of horrific reality here.

You take the reader inside a perverted serial killer's head and an innocent woman whose life has been ripped from her and whose present season of recovery is being trespassed. You describe the love of an adoring niece for her mourning auntie and this connects the reader to the prologue and adds another level of emotion to this already captivating plot.

What a book!

by the way--the last couple of chapters seemed a little too short compared to the first ones. I'm not sure if this is problematic for editors or not. Regardless, I'm glad I picked this one to read.

Steve Clark wrote 132 days ago

Olga,

This book established the 'creepy' factor right from the start. The prologue has me asking questions such as; did the car crash? Were the man and boy killed? ?What did the man cut the brake line? It kept me wanting more.

The characterizations in the first chapter were good. Stephanie is obviously an appealing brainiac and the lab settings interesting. The prologue and 1st chapter suffer a little structurally, but the problems will be easily corrected if you run this work past the eyes of a good, professional content editor.

The second chapter is were we begin to see your real writing talent shine. The characters of Pud and his mother are very well portrayed as repulsive creatures. We clearly see Pud's potential for evil. The dialogue is realistic and moves the plot along nicely. Writing quality is far superior to the Prologue and 1st chapter.

There are structural issues with awkward wording in a place or two and several places where a slight sentence structure change would yield a smoother read and much more economic word usage. I'll leave the specifics to your content editor. Just a couple of quick things. Where you said, "Stephanie knew that to Fred the challenge was the best part..." you didn't tell us what the challenge was, therefore we didn't understand what you meant. Also, you called someone Lantha but failed to capitalize the name.

I would strongly suggest you give us a break (asterisk line or something) at the scene change where the next scene begins with "Back in the laboratory..." Also, you have a sentence that says, "when the cops arrives..." It should read "when the cops arrive..."

It was a bit difficult getting through the prologue and 1st chapter because of the problems, but the 2nd chapter made it worth it. Tightening up the prologue and 1st chapter to the quality of writing standard you have set in the 2nd chapter will make this a book people won't be able to put down.

Searcher wrote 256 days ago

Hi Olga, I'm impressed by your medical jargon & easy writing style. For the most part, the beginning of the story came across to me as very natural sounding until Stephani opened the envelope with the pictures. Instead of wanting to hide the pictures from Richard, I wondered why not let Richard peek over Stephani's shoulder and comment on them. Once they read the note on the back, I'm still not sure Stephani would want to call security at this point. By keeping the authorities out of the beginning, I think, you'll make it edgier to the reader. The reader might feel an urgent need to warn Stephani. As it is now, Steph's ready to get help when she's not even sure she's in danger. But, maybe that's me.

I felt the same in Ch 3 when Theo went to find the ranger. Why doesn't Theo just take a look himself & leave it at that. To me, they overreacted by going to find the ranger. After all, there are lots of people who picnic in the park. It may have been someone out for a walk who was just looking in their direction. Maybe she could even say that & let us scream in our heads, "No, it's the bad guy!"

Nice work with Ch 2. Pud & his mother are repulsive and easy to visualize. You get a pretty good idea of why Pud turned out the way he did.

You've got a good story & I'm curious to see where it goes. It still needs tweaking but that's what we're all doing here.

Jane Lawry
The Genealogists: On Holy Ground

Truth One Note In wrote 493 days ago

This is my second book to read on here.
I have to say 'wow' because your writing style is so picturesque. You show a every detail to plainly. I was captured right away.
The showing is real and to telling, which is a top virtue in any real book.
Of course there are places that need a little editing, but then what book doesn't need any?
The main character Stephanie has a sassy attitude underneath all of the hurt. Her story is heart breaking and so deep I felt her agony.
This is a worthy read.

Ryan_Gomes wrote 598 days ago

Club Agatha Critique

You definitely have a knack for unsettling situations! Your prologue was beautiful. I really liked the tension you introduced in that short section. It really hooks the reader and makes them want to read on. Your Chapter 1 was also good, although I felt it was a bit rushed. I would have liked to have seen a little more of Stephani's character before the unsettling photos arrived. Ah well, it's not too big of a deal. A few commas here and there could be replaced with periods, but otherwise it was solid.

Chapter 2 introduced Pud; boy, was that interesting! I thought the way you described his adoration for his 'Princess' was unsettling and creepy; perfect for the character! I also liked the interaction between the mother and Pud. It helps to bring out the inner anger and rage Pud has. Overall, I found this to be an interesting read. Highly starred!

Ryan

Ghosty wrote 603 days ago

Club Agatha ch2 Critique,

This chapter gives us a better understanding of the villain's pathology. The history of his relationship with his mother certainly contributes to his inner rage and I have a feeling she abused him somehow when he was younger, just from the hints you've placed through the chapter. His deluded ideas about 'his Princess' are quite chilling and its definitely scary to think someone could be watching and photographing you without your knowledge. He had big plans for Stephani - I feel sorry for her already.

Couple of nits - minor things really. There are a few extra quaotations in the middle of speech sentences and at the end of the chapter you have an 'if' instead of 'it'. Hope that's been a help. Really enjoying this.
G

Shepback wrote 607 days ago

Club Agatha Critique.

This had me hooked from the start. Love the story line and I could almost smell the Mum in the second chapter. Wouldn't change anything although I think there are some speech inverted commas that you don't need in chapter 2.
I think this is great and will read more when I get the chance. Well done.

Lena M. Pate wrote 610 days ago

Club Agatha Critique 2
Olga, this one is so chilling and well written. The villain jumps off the page at the reader and scare the bejeebers out of you. You descriptions of the lab scene in the first chapter area right on and he getting the photos was quite spooky. The conflict of the mother and Puddles was well done showing just the type of upbringing or lack of this man had. High stars!
Lena

Declan Conner wrote 612 days ago

Well polished and masteful crafting. Immediate mystery created with the brief introduction to the stalker. Who is taking the photos and why. Great mystery. Loved the second chapter and the interactions between Pud and his mom. It looks like Nature and nurture have worked hand in glove to form Pud's character.

Description, narration dialogue, mystery, tension, chararacterization all good.

Effortless read, and nothing to crit. Everything has no doubt already being voiced. I would buy this.

I will be looking for a space on my shelf shortly, in the meantime high stars.

Declan Missing: The Body of Evidence & The Journey.

gr84ll wrote 618 days ago

Club Agatha-Round two;

Very well written! Your dialogue is so real, I can picture "Pud" and his disgusting mother, even reached a point where I could almost smell her sweaty body! A great start at something that promises to continue to entertain! I can't wait to see where you go with it! Good job! Jacque (Upside Down)

Cupcake xx wrote 622 days ago

Hey! Here for the club agatha critique.
Here are my thoughts as I read:
- Your opening is so good.
- Oooh, wow. I love your descriptions. They are so well written.
- Just one typo: ‘iphone’ should be ‘iPhone’. Just a company thing.
- Some of your speech is indented and some isn’t. There should be a consistency to the indenting.
- You do well at creating tension. (:
- I think this is a strong second chapter.

Overall: A very nicely paced book, with good descriptions. I think your writing is very skilled, and it shows through this mysterious and tension-filled two chapters.
Good luck!

Alex

Inqusitive Agie wrote 624 days ago

Agatha critique take two

You've created a strong second chapter, however son and mother have both the same nasty traits. I know it's like mother like son, but the story might improve when the son is still under the thumb of the mother. Because she's a bully and bullied children don't change overnight. Adult or not the son needs to be more timid when he's with his mother, although on the inside he's is boilling.

Kenneth Edward Lim wrote 626 days ago

Olga,
Revisited your book after a while. Have you been buffing it up? The switching of POV's between predator and prey works very well showing the reader how the two in their separate worlds are being led toward the fateful joining that would change their lives. Stephani is a sympathetic character trying to rebuild her life without her husband and son, Pud struggles with inner demons as he works up the courage to pounce on his next victim. Your writing style is cool and deliberate, phrases laid out with clinical precision.The result is brilliant. Thank you so much for the intriguing read.

Kenneth Edward Lim
The North Korean

Kenneth Edward Lim wrote 626 days ago

Olga,
Revisited your book after a while. Hve you been buffing it up? The switching of POV's between predator and prey works very well showing the reader how the two in their separate worlds are being led toward the fateful joining that would change their lives. Stephani is a sympathetic character trying to rebuild her life without her husband and son, Pud struggles with inner demons as he works up the courage to pounce on his next victim. Your writing style is cool and deliberate, phrases laid out with clinical precision.The result is brilliant. Thank you so much for the intriguing read.

Kenneth Edward Lim
The North Korean

Elizabeth Buhmann wrote 632 days ago

Hi, Olga. Club Agatha Review

I think this is a very good start for a mystery. The opening part is very menacing in view of the LP, which says that Stephani lost her husband and son. I wonder though -- tampering with brakes creates danger, but do you want to rely on the LP to set it up as a history of murder? I always feel the book should stand without the pitch. You might want to consider carrying the prologue a step further and heading the car toward a cliff (or whatever) and having the man pumping the useless brakes. Then the prologue itself, with or without the pitch, tells us there's been a murder.

Then I love the whole thing of the photos. To me, that is extremely scary and threatening. Definitely sets up a good mystery - who took them, what is he up to (and the part where he calls her -- or her niece? -- princess is very creepy).

There's a garbled sentence: Want to check you still want I should set the for 38 hours... huh?

Finally, maybe it's just me, but the dialogue in places does not sound very American. I found myself checking where the story was set, checking names, and trying to figure out wher the characters were from. The phrases I was picking up on were:

I could do with a coffee -- an American would say I could use a coffee
Should be buying as there are bargains now -- ought to be buying because?
Wanted it sorted and sorted now -- wanted to get to the bottom of it? -- we don't say sorted. Sorted out, maybe, but not in this context.
Tried to get on with work – back to work
Binned the rubber gloves -- tossed

Finally a typo: When the cops arrives

But the story is good! An excellent launching point. Plenty of danger and mystery.

EB

PaddyNemesis wrote 632 days ago

Club Agatha
Im sorry to say that I wasn't a fan of this. I really am not a fan of prologues and I just didnt get it. I am really sorry to say that and I do wish you the best of luck

Dantes wrote 633 days ago

Hi,

The unamed man in the prologue was a great intorduction to the book as it provided the necessary creepiness a book based on a serial killer needs. From the pitch it sounds like the husband and son were then murdered> The chapter itself was a compentent opening, intorducing the reader to MC - Stephani. She is pin around the whole book, the moral centre vis a vis the serial killer/ stalker. As the reason for the reader's emotional investment it she has to be believable and engaging in some respect. I had no problems on this score. The personality is secured through the sharp and snappy dialogue'...tell Jack I'll be down in five.' The photo's are a nice premise around which to construct a thriller also.

Well done, Dantes.

Inqusitive Agie wrote 633 days ago

Agatha critique.

There isn't much I can add, except that I don't like it, you have is a lot of unnessacery additions. Maybe you'll better put those in a chapter if you want people to know about them, to make this a shorter prologue. That is if you want to read people the prolgue.

John Bayliss wrote 634 days ago

Club Agatha Critique

A good start which sets up a (possible) crime in the prologue and then establishes the main character in chapter one. The environment of the laboratory is totally believable, as is the conversation between the staff. All the other characters are well presented.

I found just one tiny error near the beginning: "as if on queue" should be "as if on cue". In this context, it's the kind of cue that an actor receives to indicate he should say his lines.

best wishes and good writing, John

Wanttobeawriter wrote 634 days ago

LURKING IN THE SHADOWS
Club Agatha Critique
This is a good beginning for a mystery: a woman receives two uninvited photos of herself. I think there was a time when a woman wouldn’t have thought anything of that; assumed a friend had snapped the photos. This is today, tho, and there are stalkers turned serial killers out there which makes the photos very scary. I like the way all these people keep working while they talk; the masks have to be a real drawback (but I suspect the stalker may show up with a mask on some day as a clever disguise). You’ve infused a great ominous tone to this; just the right tone for a mystery to come. Well done.

Emma B wrote 636 days ago

Club Agatha

I like your pitch, and i guess it made me wonder whether your prologue is in fact someone killing Stephani's husband and son. Was it the past or the future, i don't yet know? But it did interest me.
The stress is good, you pull the reader into the worry of someone looking not only at Stephani but at her niece also.
I want to keep reading, good start, Emma.

gr84ll wrote 638 days ago

Club Agatha Critique
You start right off establishing the intrigue.... hook set, now we sit waiting, 'what is to follow.... promises to be a good story, who is taking the photo's and why? Once she steps on that elevator, will we see her again?! I guess I must read more..... good job, I like it so far....

Casimir Greenfield wrote 638 days ago

Club Agatha Crit: Lurking In The Shadows

The writing in Chapter One is vivid and filled with tension. The mundane replaced at once by the chilling. We can all imagine the shock of the intrusion, the violation of the captured images. The implications.

The writing is taut and assured. A cinfident beginning. I would read on.

(My one concern is the prologue. I once started both of my books with a prologue. One of them with an unidentified 'man'. It is hard to work out who the 'he' is without a name or a further description. So, I am lost in the paragraph. I know what you mean, but we don't know if 'he' is black, white, young, old or anything. The menace you hope to invoke is thus rendered unsatisfying. A wasted prologue opportunity in my humble opinion.)






http://authonomy.com/books/42586/slow-poison/

http://authonomy.com/books/42590/bloodstones/

Glenn Muller wrote 641 days ago

Club Agathe chapter 1 crit: Nice opening hook, and interesting scene in "Chapter one". However, I would make the prologue just the beginning of chapter one - you can put a time/location header when you switch scenes if you like. There is tension at the beginning but watch for contradictory sentences - you have the warm sea breeze caressing his face yet the palm fronds are menacing. Also tighter sentences will crank things up a notch:

(ie) it was, what he would call, an ideal night night for a perfect crime, if there ever was one.

{s/b} it was an ideal night for the perfect crime. (we already know this is his perspective)

Lots of potential here - enjoyed it :)

Glenn
(TORQUE)

Nick Goulding wrote 643 days ago

Club Agatha Review – ‘Lurking in the Shadows’

I’ll review chapter one with the prologue as it’s short and integral.

I like the anonymous character at the start – adds to the mystery. Good use of action verbs in the prologue – gloved up, caressed, skirted, seeped, etc. – adds interest and isn’t too over the top. The prologue sets a chilling scene and we are left wondering who is at threat and why – a perfect hook well delivered.

In chapter one, we are introduced to Stephani at her workplace. Neat idea for info delivery – the addressed letter. Character background is delivered deftly, in small chunks that don’t block narrative flow until ‘So after the fire at the lab in L.A., and having to move here and set up again, you still think this?’ – he knows his own history and this seems to clearly be an info dump for the reader – perhaps space the info a little (though we clearly need it).

The appearance of the photos is unsettling, nicely touching that fear we all have of being secretly observed. I think I would have said something to a colleague, straight away, unless I had something to hide, so questions are in the air already. Perhaps some idea of her motivation would key us in (shock, some secret?). The writing on the back is a nice touch but I feel this could be brought in earlier as Greenleaf suggested and the dialogue with Richard tightened around this.

I like the lack of speech tags – I found it easy to track who said what.
Some of the technical info might be reduced – e.g. in ‘Fred added incubation media into an injection machine. A soft whizzing sound punctuated the air as a measured amount of medium was squirted into test tubes.’ – it adds to the context and gives credibility to the setting, but it can break suspense.

The characters are building well with geeky Fred coldly delivering his disturbing view.
The ‘clutching the photos’ section where Stephani phones security and the police is compressed compared to previous elements but emotions would have been through the roof.

The chapter ends with a very stressed Stephani, a fair page-turning point. Perhaps a gutsy ‘must read on’ sentence or two could be added. For example, we don’t know yet about Stephani’s own family. I assume her son and husband have died (from the pitch) – would this come into her thinking/fears. Knowing Stephani’s loss might increase the perception of vulnerability we have about her.

A quick edit to sort minor punctuation issues, etc., might help, e.g. ‘After a quick inventory check to see if the lab needed any more, test tubes…’ – misplaced comma; ‘cops arrives/arrive’.

Missing word in ‘…to check you still want I should set the [ ] for 38 hours?”
A minor visual point – the justification varies somewhat.

All in all an exciting and credible first chapter that definitely keeps me engaged. I really want to read on and discover the nature of the threat – is it industrial rivalry, something personal or some sinister obsession with the niece? A powerful mystery developing here.

Nick Goulding
'Where She Lies'

Ghosty wrote 643 days ago

Club Agatha Critique,

Nice opener, first from the POV of the man sabotaging another man's vehicle. A quick, strong beginning, which leaves the reader wondering why the man wants to hurt the other so much. The only issue I had with the prologue with the last line, when the man air punches in victory. Just a personal observation, but it felt a little corny to me and broke the tension that had been there.

Chapter 1 also was well done, opening the scene of Stephani's work place and her colleagues giving readers a keen scene of the MC. The arrival of the photo and the message drew me in and along. As observed by Greenleaf, I would tighten up the dialogue between Stephani and Richard, as well as place the message earlier in the piece, which would make their reaction much stronger and in keeping with the fear you are creating. Apart from that, I enjoyed the pacing and the plot and look forward to reading on.
G

Shelby Z. wrote 645 days ago

Thrilling opener.
You grab the reader's attention with the mystery of it all. It has a lot of grim mystery to it that draws the reader in to your story.
There is a lot of new ways that twist and turn with a lot interest.
I love a good crime mystery and this is one of the better I have seen on this site. It is creative for sure.
Amazing work!

Shelby Z./Driving Winds

P.S. Please take a look at my pirate adventure Driving Winds.

Valerie T wrote 646 days ago

Club Agatha critique.
The Prologue and first chapter are an excellent beginning for a suspense novel. The Prologue sets the reader up. We know something terrible is going to happen to that man and child but then you make us wait. And it turns out to be a one-two punch. When we seem to be getting a break from the tension, you introduce the photos. So now we have to worry about Stephani and her niece as well.The dialogue is very natural and increases the tension as she questions her co-workers about the photos. The description of Stephani trying to work when her mind is on the photos is one everyone can identify with and makes the reader identify with her.

You need to be more consistent in your layout. Some paragraphs are indented, most aren't. This is a small issue that is easily rectified.

Another small point. I didn't understand the sentence that begins "It doesn't feel like that." .

A terrific opening. I'm looking forward to reading more.
Valerie

Greenleaf wrote 647 days ago

Club Agatha Critique

I have read the prologue and first chapter of Lurking in the Shadows for the Chapter One competition of Club Agatha. The prologue was scary and left me wondering about the man who cut the brake fluid line and about the father and son who drove away in the car.

The chapter one scene was well-written and introduced us to the protagonist and the situation. This is shaping up to be a good mystery. My only recommendation is that you work on the dialog between Stepani and Richard a bit. It's not worded wrong, exactly, but I wondered why Richard would think it odd that someone sent Stephani a photo of her niece. It seemed they were over-reacting to the photos. Maybe if Stephani saw the note on the back of the photo first, and became frightened, and then Richard noticed, it would be more believable. I hope this helps.

I'm looking forward to reading more.

Susan/Greenleaf (Provenance; Chameleon)

cvblank wrote 647 days ago

Club Agatha Critique -

Strong ingredients -- I love fiction that takes me behind the scenes in an interesting professional milieu. With a round of copyediting to fix spelling, punctuation, & syntax problems, & tighten up the language, this could be a compelling chapter. Dialog should sound as if people could actually speak it, & a lot of this doesn't. Some of that is just typos ("Can you call me when the cops arrives?"); some is exposition thinly disguised as speech ("After five years of research into fibrocystic and stromal breast tissue I should have made a breakthrough not agonising that if I'd taken a different approach I'd be registering a patient for us now.") Also, Stephani speaks British & so does the omniscient narrator=author, but the story's set in the US; how does that feed into the story? Since Ch. 1 is likely to be what a potential reader sees as a free sample on Amazon et al., I'd spend the time & money to polish this before publishing. Good work so far, & good luck!

Jack Cerro wrote 729 days ago

The short prologue is perfect. It allows for a more relaxed opening where you can introduce your protagonist. The pacing throughout is excellent, the text reads clean and avoids the melodrama often common in this type of story. There may be a little too casualness in the protagonists response for some readers, but I thought it was a appropriate. I liked the subtle foreshadowing with the eagle hunting the lizard.
The scenes from the pov of the antagonist were particularly creepy. I even liked the short blurbs that jump to his point of view. There is a distinct feeling emerging here of two storys coming to a head. I'm curious about the protagonists response to this stalker. Will she fight back? Will she seek revenge when she learns the truth of her husband and son's death? I will say that this might be a better story if Stephani had more to lose. It's one thing to worry about her own safety, but another to also worry about a child's safety. I guess I'm imagining a scenario where the son lives through the accident in some form. This might create more sympathy for Stephanie as she is forced to work and care for her injured son. Plus it leaves another thing in her life that could be taken away from her.

Sharda D wrote 731 days ago

Hi Olga,
this is lovely stuff, beautfiully paced and an intriguing idea which will scare the living daylights out of most of my Mummy friends so much so that they will buy the book and devour it in a day!!

Don't know if you're still looking for feedback, but I thought I would have a go anyway.

The three chapters I read are accomplished and assured. There is good balance here, the dialogue doesn't take over (although there is quite a lot of it) because it is snappy and there is enough description interspersed to break it up. Love the mad relationship between the Pud and his mother. Brilliantly drawn.
My only niggle was with your long pitch. I don't like the "Imagine you are..." it sounds a little too chatty or teacher-like and in conjuction with all the questions that follow it reads a bit like an interrogation! I think it would be better to start with "A successful scientist is trying to get over the loss of a ... but she is plagued by..." and take out some of the questions. Also the "This is my story" bit at the end is a little confusing. It isn't a memoir and if you have some sections from Pud's POV then it's not "your" story really. It gives the impression that the reader is about to read some kind of celebrity memoir of what it's like to be stalked!! And your book is so much better than that!!
I have given you 5 stars and I'm seriously considering 6!! Will have a think.
All the best,
Sharda.
If you have time, please cast your eyes over mine... no pressure.
http://www.authonomy.com/books/42835/mr-unusually-s-circus-of-dreams/

johnpatrick wrote 776 days ago

Hello Olga,
Came to this from the title and the intriguing LP.
The prologue is excellent, tension delivered immediately and the reader is right there on his shoulder.
The first chapter is more leisurely, an evolving feel to it-character, BS and romantic tension handled deftly.
Where I would suggest improvements-
menacing shadows, soft...glow, trembled with excitement, Jesus x2, disgusting nervous sweat.
These parts are either a little too wordy or weak and interrupt the flow, which is otherwise excellent.
High stars from me and on my WL.
What are your plans with this?
Regards from here,
John
Dropping Babies.

jlbwye wrote 777 days ago

Lurking in the Shadows. An evocative title, and a sinister cover. I'm not sure that all those questions in the long pitch work, though. It is a bit jerky. Perhaps if you gave a smooth outline of the plot, and include some emotion and suspense, it would serve as a more effective lure... But that's only my opinion.

I take notes as I read, but dont pretend to be an expert. I tend to notice nits - hope you dont mind.

Ch.1. Prologue. Would it be a more striking opening if you omitted that first sentence? And dont you mean 'as if on cue'?
There are rather a lot of 'he's - easily remedied: '... he cursed silently, pausing in his stride.'
An atmospheric episode, charged with tension.

Ch.1. It's best to seach and delete unnecessary words which spoil the flow, like 'always'.
And beware of repeated meanings: do you really need to say the coffee is both forgotten and half-finished?
The back-story and Stephanie's attraction to Richard is well shown through her observations and the dialogue. Good technique.
That statement 'It doesnt make any sense,' would be stronger without the 'any' - wouldnt it?

The tension and fear are growing palpably - and then you insert this gem of a sentence to ease the strain: 'A typical answer from someone who still lived with his mother and wore pants up to his waist with two pleats on each side.' Brilliant.

Ch.2. 'Her voice was like metal scratching on glass.' Great words.
Living with his mother ... do I have an inkling who he is this early in the story? I wonder -

Ch.3. More back-story, seamlessly introduced in dialogue as the reader learns more about Stephanie and her family.
And the scenes shift between the two MCs with ever so slightly increasing swiftness.
You build the tension and suspense well. But I'm beginning to wonder if you're prolonging the dialogue a tiny bit too much.

Chs. 4-7. Another dimension, and I cant stop reading.
Sometimes, I wonder if parts of the dialogue are a little too prolonged and unnecessary - like the exchanges in the lab.

Ch.7. I can identify with Stephanie's reaction to the gym, and smile at Jenee's insistence.
Another sinister bit of back-story ... is there a connection between the deaths of her family, and the stalker... and are there two stalkers...
A macabre conclusion.

I've read every word.
No wonder you did well in that competition. You are a masterful story teller.
Looking forward to your take on mine!

Jane (Breath of Africa)

Brian G Chambers wrote 779 days ago

HI Olga
My daughter read some of your book, and she aked me to put it on my WL and rate it highly, both of which I've done. I wondered if in return you could have a look at my Tales for Children.
Thanks in advance
Brian.

Brittanee Zaitsoff wrote 846 days ago

Hey Olga,
I think you have a great novel here. The prologue is intense and urged me to keep reading, as well as setting the stage for when she discovers the pictures to give a sensation of malice. Your voice is exciting and the dialogue is good. It does seem more formal at times, but that is to be expected when having highly educated characters. I especially like your detailed descriptions and the use of medical terminology.
I would definately buy this, if given the opportunity.
High stars and backed when I can :)
Brittanee
- Sinful

Jake Barton wrote 916 days ago

Crime fiction, so very much in my own genre, and this is a such a strong offering. I first read this some time back and on returning am amazed it hasn't yet gone on to great success as there is so much to admire here. A really strong cover and title combination work perfectly and I'm struggling to remember a more atmospheric feeling in anything I've read lately. Olga, you have written a crime thriller with a real edge to it, well paced and delightfully observed with just the right amount of 'creepiness' dotted around to keep the reader wondering what's coming next and plenty of well researched technical detail. On my shelf.
Jake.

NerdGirl61023 wrote 920 days ago

Olga,

I always caveat my reviews with the fact that I am not a professional so take my comments with a grain of salt. Also, grammar is not forte so I usually don't comment on that either.

First, I want to say that you do a great job of drawing the reader into the story immediately. You do a great job of painting a picture of a really creepy guy and a very tense situation. I like how you write the long pitch putting the reading in the MC character's shoes. You might want to check your sentence "Photos that were taken secretly while you wen about enjoying an outing in the park with your neice?" -- this isn't a complete sentence nor is it a question. I know you are trying to tie it to the question before, but it doesn't stand on its own as a setence.

One of the things I noticed is that some spots the dialog isn't very natural. For instance in the first Chapter she says, "I should be buying a house as there are many bargains." This doesn't seem to be the way that people would talk. They would say something like, "There a lot of great deals out there and I should be buying..." not trying to rewrite, but just giving an example. Just give a quick read through and make sure that your dialog has a natural flow. Another thing I caught is that you change the spelling of Stephani's name. You switch between Stephani and Stephanie.

This is very good. I will read more later. I hope these comments helped.

a.morrison712 wrote 933 days ago

I read on into Ch 3. I love how you continue to drive this through dialogue. Everything I know about your characters is given to me through this method. I like this, however be cognizant that some may not. This seems to be your writing style though and it works well for you. Your voice is heard and the prose flows seamlessly off the page. I'm glad I was able to come back for just a little bit more....now I'm wondering how this "report" is going to go....

Best,

Ashley
'Maddy Hatfield and the Magic Locket'

a.morrison712 wrote 944 days ago

I love the prologue! It makes me want to read more. I like that you put it in the same document as Chapter 1 though, so that everything matches up. This is normally outside of my comfort zone reading(I usually read Fantasy), but this is really engaging and had me glued to the computer screen! I am giving you high stars and will be back for more. I'll be back to see what happens to Stephani next...

Best,

Ashley
'Maddy Hatfield and the Magic Locket'

FdeMora wrote 944 days ago

This is so well written. I love the addition of the prologue, it builds up so much tension and suspense and mystery before we get into the story, building up the atmosphere for what the reader expects. Particularly after reading your pitch, it actually frightened me. You continue with this theme of tension, getting straight into it and not bothering with mundane details. The use of terminology to do with their scientific work really brings it to life and I can really picture the entire location and the scene. I think the dialogue is excellent, natural and real and I think you really create this creepy atmosphere and the reader can empathise with Stephani and how she feels the moment she sees those photographs.

I will definitely be reading on.

Faina

Neville wrote 945 days ago

Lurking In the Shadows.
By Olga Segal.

This is a very good thriller from the word go!
The first chapter makes the book a contagious; riveting read …I never stopped reading throughout although I had important things to do.
This to me is a classic thriller with all the twists and turns that go with it.
Lots of tension for the reader makes it hard to put down and the description is so vivid.
I did notice a couple of things even though I was absorbed in the storyline, they are nothing much and not meant to be critical…this is a great book!!
Check the following sentence (the). Also the 38 hours shouldn’t it be without the numerical format, should read :- thirty eight?
…”I have almost finished loading the incubator, and wanted to check you still want I should set (the ) for 38 hours?”…
…The second telling made it all the more shocking… I would say – Explaining a second time made it all the more shocking.
…”Now listen, boy. I raised you on my own. You don’t know what that was like.” “Don’t talk about that ever again!”…
There are two different speeches here, the second speech looks like it belongs to Pud…is it?
You are an excellent writer and I can see why you’ve done so well in the past.
Top stars and on my shelf!!

Kind regards,

Neville. THE SECRETS OF THE FOREST – THE TIME ZONE.

D M Sharples wrote 946 days ago

Olga,

I'm going outside my usual genre, but not into something I'm a complete stranger to. This sets up the feeling for a gripping, dark thriller. The prologue is short and hints at many things, leaving us with unanswered questions. Then the opening chapter has a brighter feel to it, at first, with a normal day at work containing something unusual. Of course, we know better than the characters that something bad is only just beginning. Then chapter two. This is a very good chapter, instantly creating the image of a sociopath. The way you describe his house and show us his relationship with his mother is wonderful in its gritty, harsh style.

I don't have much criticism, and what I do have mostly focuses on the dialogue in the first chapter. At times I felt it read somewhat awkwardly, sounding in my mind like those tv adverts that are intended to simulate reality but don't. It isn't all the time, pretty much only where the dialogue is a bit lengthier. There was also one bit that read as if it had been edited but some words had been left in. I must stress it is just the first chapter though; the second had no such issues, and the other aspects of your writing are pretty solid throughout.

D M Sharples.

billysunday wrote 993 days ago

I am reading Cornwall's Scarpetta Factor right now and your novel reminded me of her style. Are you in the medical field? You write with such authority. Liked the opening dialogue-have had the same conversations about real estate too. Great lead up on the creepy photos. Makes me want to read more. Nice job and good luck.
Dina of The Last Degree and Halo of the Damned

Ivan Amberlake wrote 996 days ago

Lurking in the Shadows - Wow! Judging by your pitch alone, Olga, I’d buy this book. The pitch is terrific!
But let’s get down to some reading. The Prologue vividly shows your passion for writing. I’m totally immersed into the story and see the images you paint.
Chapter 1 is written extremely well. I love the dialogues and the way Stephanie gets more and more scared – this makes her believable. I can’t help feeling sorry for her.
Chapter 2 - Wow! The opening paragraph of the chapter is about the man who takes pictures of Stephanie – that I didn’t expect.
- Her voice was like metal scratching on glass. [I love this sentence!];
- What a relationship between mother and son! Shocking! Well, this definitely deserves 6 stars. I also hope to back it next month when there’s room on my shelf.

Ivan Amberlake
The Beholder

Joshua Jacobs wrote 1002 days ago

I love your first two sentences. They create an immediate sense of tension. The following sentences maintain that tension well. The short, polished, staccato sentences make for an exciting writing style. Nice job gripping your readers attention right away. And what a way to end the prologue! Now I need to know what happens. I'm not usually a fan of prologues, but yours is so powerfully written and to-the-point that I loved it.

Once into chapter one, I love the exchange between Stephani and Richard. There's good chemistry between them, and there's some solid characterization as they chat. Stephani is uptight and serious but likeable nonetheless. I'm always intrigued by this type of character. She's someone I could spend a few hundred pages with. And Richard's protectiveness makes him immediately relatable.

The envelope with the two photographs hooked me again. There's obviously something fishy about them that is being withheld from the reader for now. Curious. I was right there with Stephani, mentally begging Richard to bugger off so she could look at the photographs again.

"My Princess. My one and only love" gave me chills. Creepy!

I'm impressed with how polished and tightly written this is. It flows smoothly, and I had virtually no problems with the narrative. I eventually got swept away by your story and ability to write that I stopped taking notes. You're definitely talented.

The fact you write from the creeper's perspective in chapter two is fascinating. Nice way to keep your reader hooked!

Suggestions: This is already so well done, I had very few suggestions. How about "Her back ached" instead of "her back was aching"? Is it possible to end with a stronger hook at the end of chapter one? Almost everything else about this opening is outstanding, so I felt the ending of the chapter was a little underwhelming.

Typos: You're missing an end quote in "I'll go." "Half-finished" should be hyphenated since it's two words serving as one adjective. "She" should be lower-case in "Mm," she shrugged. Should be: "iPhone."

This is an outstanding start. If I didn't have other things to do today, I would still be reading. I would love to know when this is published so I can buy a copy. Highly rated and recommended!