I was working on a different novel when two things changed my plans. First, I read on a publishers blog what the big publishers are looking for authors who can produce a book a year of a certain genre. Since two of the three books I have written have been mysteries, I thought I better work on a mystery. Second: the idea for a sequel for my first novel came to me. The novel I have been working on I will still work on when I run out of ideas for the mystery. The mystery will be the primary work. Below is the opening chapter. It still is raw and needs to be rewritten. I would appreciate any comments.
The storm came out of nowhere. One moment the sky sparkled with stars and the next a dark curtain of clouds blotted them out. Across the lake a streak of crooked lightning flashed down at the water. Thunder cracked and the wind gushed as if some unseen dam holding it back had burst. In an instant the slight walleye chop which had rippled the water became a boiling pot of wind-churned whitecaps.
Caught by the wind, the boat swung sharply to starboard as if pulled by some unseen rope. When the boat went sideways the waves splashed over the side and the automatic bilge pump kicked on.
Cranking the throttle he pointed the bow back into the wind. This was going to be trouble, he thought. The weather report had said a chance of thunderstorms when he checked it in the afternoon. He should have checked the weather radar before coming out, but he didn’t have the luxury or the time. Even his eighteen-foot boat was no match for these conditions. Running without lights he could actually see better without their glare than if they had been on, but still he couldn’t see. He was glad. If he could have seen the lake clearly he knew he would have been scared to death. Even like this he was more than a little worried.
Concentrating on the glow of his fish finder he powered the boat from wave to wave in a bouncing path. The hull crashed into one wave, came off the top of it and banged into the next one–the motor revving between crashes as the propeller lost contact with the lake. Water sprayed him with each bounce. In a moment he was soaked. He had his rain gear stowed in a storage compartment mid-boat, but he didn’t have time to dig it out. If he let go of the tiller for even a moment he would lose control of the boat. He turned his shoulder to the waves and adjusted the trim to try and smooth out the ride. It didn’t help.
The contour lines on his fish finder showed Lone Goose Bar fast approaching. He corrected his course and headed out over deeper water. With these waves he’d rip out the motor’s lower unit if he tried to go across the shallow bar.
When the boat passed the bar, he angled toward Five-mile Bar.
Halfway between the two bars, over the deepest part of the lake, he throttled the motor down just to the point where it kept the boat from swinging sideways.
With one hand on the tiller, he reached forward with his other hand and grabbed the wrist. He jerked and dragged the body toward him. For a moment he rested to gain his strength and breath from the exertion. Timing it so he’d be between waves, he let go of the tiller and grabbed underneath both arms. He heaved the body up until it lay across the starboard gunwale on its waist. Grabbing the tiller again he straightened the boat out as it started to swing sideways. When he had the boat facing the waves again, he wrapped the nylon rope around one ankle and quickly tied double granny knot. He grabbed the tiller and straightened the boat again. Picking up the cinder block attached to the other end of the rope, he dropped it over the side of the boat.
The body somersaulted with a splash into the water.
He gunned the motor and turned the boat around, pointing it back toward shore. Just as he got it straightened out, the clouds burst. Rain came down in sheets, until he couldn’t see the lights along the shore. The bilge pump kicked in and stayed on. He put the boat on the same black trail mark on his fish finder he had made on the way out. Pea-sized hail started to ting off the boat. He put his hand over the fish finder’s screen to protect it. The hail stung his back, hands and face. He cringed against the pain, but he smiled, too. The rain would wash the blood out of the boat…and everywhere else.