Friday Firsts: The Hit by Nadia Dalbuono

Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?

| Friday Firsts: June 30 |

The Hit

Book Three of the Leone Scamarcio Series

by Nadia Dalbuono

Crime | 320 Pages | Published by Scribe UK in 2016

| First Paragraphs |

LILA SAT CRYING ON THE SOFA, her eye make-up running down her cheeks. The camera panned right to reveal Fernando standing in the doorway, half in shadow. The music was building to a slow crescendo.

Micky Proietti sighed and uncrossed his legs. He’d told them ‘no piano’. He’d made it perfectly clear, he’d said it several times and had even set it down in an email, but there was piano everywhere — it was practically wall to wall.

Fernando approached from the doorway and stood behind Lila, placing a shaky hand on her shoulder.

Fernando had a memorable face, but his performance was weak. Right now, he looked like someone had run over his pet canary. Why hadn’t the director done a retake? The problem with the old guard was that they were scared of the talent; they didn’t ride them hard. The young guns didn’t care; they’d do whatever it took, commit their actors to an asylum if necessary. He should have got the Caselli Brothers on this. Why the hell had he listened to Giacometti when he’d insisted on Andrea? Andrea was 65 — he was past it. TV was a young man’s game.

Yet again, Micky Proietti considered the fact that he turned 43 next month. Would he be able to stay in the game until retirement? Would he be squeezed out, forced to take up a new career? Focus, Micky, he told himself. You will be pushed aside if you don’t turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse.

Fernando was sitting next to Lila on the sofa now. He was taking her hand gently in his. ‘Darling, I have something to tell you …’

The dreadful piano music resumed, and the screen faded to black…

Micky Proietti cleared his throat, remembering the basic lessons from his management training: start with the positives before moving to the negatives; be constructive; build confidence. Problem was, right now he couldn’t think of any positives. Lila was OK-ish. She just about carried it, but it was hardly a stellar performance. As for Fernando, Micky could write the reviews already: ‘a limp effort’; ‘lacks passion,’ etc, etc.

Proietti cleared his throat again. He could murder a line. Maybe he should pop over to the bathroom before addressing the team. No, he told himself. Just get it over with — duty first, pleasure later.

He shifted in his seat and surveyed the room. The editor was chewing down on a nail, staring at him impassively, quietly defiant. Micky hated that rebellious streak in editors; they always seemed determined to let whoever was higher up the hierarchy know that they wouldn’t be intimidated, couldn’t be pushed around. Actually, if he was honest, he’d always been a bit scared of them. Andrea, the director, was looking down at something on his notepad, doodling nervous circles with his biro, crossing and uncrossing his feet. Did he already realise it was a disaster? Didi, the producer, was subtly shifting her skirt higher up her magnificent legs. Poor Didi wouldn’t be able to screw her way out of this one.

He recalled his management training once more, then thought, Fuck it. He needed to be in Parioli in an hour, and then there was that trip to the bathroom …

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

| First Impressions |

I’ve been looking forward to a follow up to the Leone Scamarcio series by Nadia Dalbuono for some time – though The Hit turned out to be an accidental one-click Amazon buy. Oops! But no concern there – this was definitely going to end up on my bookshelf sooner rather than later!

And so far, so good! The opening paragraphs draw the reader into the ambition-led, drug-fuelled, tension-filled world of showbusiness – a prime set up for this crime thriller to really kick off. And while the first paragraphs don’t give much away, we start to get a feel for the characters – and possible suspects – in this showbiz enterprise.

If The Hit is anything like The Few or The American then it’s going to be a tension-building, action-packed chase through Rome’s underworld which I cannot wait to get sucked into.

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?

| Friday Firsts: June 02 |

Legion: Skin Deep

Book Two of Legion

by Brandon Sanderson

 Sci-Fi | Novella | 208 Pages | Published by Gollancz in 2015

| First Paragraphs |

What’s her angle?’ Ivy asked, walking around the table with her arms folded. Today, she wore her blonde hair in a severe bun, which was stuck through with several dangerous-looking pins.

I tried, unsuccessfully, to ignore her.

‘Gold digger, perhaps?’ Tobias asked. Dark-skinned and stately, he had pulled a chair over to the table so he could sit beside me. He wore his usual relaxed suit with no tie, and fit in well with this room of crystalline lighting and piano music. ‘Many a woman has seen only Stephen’s wealth, and not his acumen.’

‘She’s the daughter of a real estate magnate,’ Ivy said with a dismissive wave. ‘She has wealth coming out of her nose.’ Ivy leaned down beside the table, inspecting my dinner companion. ‘A nose, by the way, which seems to have had as much work done on it as her chest.’

I forced out a smile, trying to keep my attention on my dinner companion. I was used to Ivy and Tobias by now. I relied upon them.

But it can be damn hard to enjoy a date when your hallucinations are along.

‘So …’ said Sylvia, my date. ‘Malcom tells me you’re some kind of detective?’ She gave me a timid smile. Resplendent in diamonds and a tight black dress, Sylvia was an acquaintance of a mutual friend who worried about me far too much. I wondered how much research Sylvia had done on me before agreeing to the blind date.

‘A detective?’ I said. ‘Yes, I suppose you could say that.’

‘I just did!’ Sylvia replied with a chittering laugh.

Ivy rolled her eyes, refusing the seat Tobias pulled over for her.

‘Though honestly,’ I said to Sylvia, ‘the word “detective” probably gives you the wrong idea. I just help people with very specialized problems.’

‘Like Batman!’ Sylvia said.

Tobias spat out his lemonade in a spray before him. It spotted the tablecloth, though Sylvia – of course – couldn’t see it.

‘Not … really like that,’ I said.

‘I was just being silly,’ Sylvia said, taking another drink of her wine. She’d had a lot of that for a meal that she’d only just begun. ‘What kind of problems do you solve? Like, computer problems? Security problems? Logic problems?’

‘Yes. All three of those, and then some.’

‘That … doesn’t sound very specialized to me,’ Sylvia said.

She had a point.

‘It’s difficult to explain. I’m a specialist, just in lots of areas.’

‘Like what?’

‘Anything. Depends on the problem.’

‘She’s hiding things,’ Ivy said, arms still folded. ‘I’m telling you, Steve. She’s got an angle.’

‘Everyone does,’ I replied.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

| First Impressions |

Brandon Sanderson is definitely an author who can do no wrong –  and has done no wrong – in my eyes, so I was excited to continue my exploration of his work with the next in his Legion novellas.

First impressions? Sanderson makes an art of reintroducing characters and themes throughout his sequels in a delicate and unobtrusive way and from the opening chapter I was once again submerged in the many aspects of Stephen Leeds. Sanderson’s writing has once again hooked me into a fast-paced and exciting novella which I cannot wait to get back to!

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan

Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?

| Friday Firsts: May 26 |

The Waking Fire

Book One of The Draconis Memoria

by Anthony Ryan

Fantasy | 594 Pages | Published by Orbit in 2016

| First Paragraphs |


Report by: Lodima Bondersil – Acting Director, Carvenport Division, Arradsian Continental Holdings

Date: Settemer 29, 1578 (Day 166 of Company Year 135 by the Corporate Calendar)

Subject: Events surrounding the demise of Mr. Havelic Dunmorn, Director Carvenport Division, Arradsian Continental Holdings

Esteemed Sirs and Ladies,

By the time this report reaches your hands you will, no doubt, have received word via the Blue-trance of the demise of my immediate superior, Mr. Havelic Dunmorn, and an initial estimate of the associated deaths and considerable material destruction accompanying that tragic event. I have compiled this written account in the hope and expectation it will obviate any asinine and ill-informed rumours spread by competitors or Syndicate employees (see addendum for a list of recommended dismissals and contract terminations). It is my intention to provide a clear and unbiased account of events so as to better inform the deliberations of the Board and any subsequent directives they may see fit to issue.

The incident in question took place in and around the Harvesting and Dockside quarters of Carvenport on Settemer 26. The Board will recall Mr. Dunmorn’s Blue-trance communication on 12 Dimester which described the successful capture of a wild Black by the Chainmasters Independent Contractor Company, following a lengthy expedition to the south-western regions of the Arradsian Interior. I also refer the Board to the previous ten quarterly written reports from this Division concerning the increasing attrition rate amongst pen-bred stock, with Blacks proving the most short-lived of all breeds. I am sure the Board requires no reminder of the ever-decreasing potency of product harvested from inbred and youthful stock. Therefore, the capture of a live and healthy wild Black (the first such capture in more than a dozen years) was greeted with considerable excitement throughout the ranks of Syndicate employees, in that it offered the prospect of thickened blood lines and quality product for years to come. Unfortunately such expectations were soon revealed as premature.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

| First Impressions |

I cannot even describe how much I already love this book… but first… first impressions! Opening with a report from Lodima Bondersil, The Waking Fire creates tension and excitement from the very start, throwing the reader into the chaos of an historic event before confronting them with the repercussions further down the line.

The prologue reveals an interesting and gripping opener, raising question after question following the apparent disaster revealed almost immediately. The writing style is formal, owing to the nature of the report, yet fluid enough to engage with the reader from the start; and the introduction of key events and figures gives the reader a number of clues that will ostensibly tie in with the rest of the novel. So far, so awesome! I just wish I had more time to read it!

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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