First Chapter of Murder-Mystery (Working Title “Death Knell) —Thoughts?



I’m in the first stages of editing my murder mystery and wanted to post it and see what everyone thinks. Do you like the title?  Is this a book you would keep reading? How does the first chapter flow?  Any and all comments that will help me get this with sparkling polish are welcome!



       Chapter 1


Staring at the elevator’s thin maroon carpet stamped in gold florets, Amber sighed and stabbed the button to the parking garage. A stranger scrambled for the door, and Amber jumped back in surprise before sticking her hand out to hold the door.

Ignoring the stocky man in baseball cap and long coat, Amber replayed her conversation with John over again. Her arms ached to hold a baby. Girl or boy, it didn’t matter. But John wanted to keep trying the natural way. Her eyes welling with unshed tears, Amber paid little attention to the stranger next to her, thinking only of the words she would use to convince John.

Amber waited with her eyes on the floor, ignoring the man standing next to her. Brown strands of hair zigzagged shaggily against his forehead and beneath the sunglasses and cap, his face was obscure. The hairs along Amber’s arms raised and her heart pounded with a vaguely creeped-out feeling. Amber took a deep breath. My imagination is running wild today.

Petite and pretty, Amber dressed in the hotel uniform with black dress pants, a button-up shirt, and one of those rectangle plastic tags with her name in bold letters that screamed hotel employee. She wore running shoes purchased from the local sporting goods store, her dress shoes stowed away in a tote bag. The elevator door opened and Amber bolted out, brushing her eyes, now that she was alone and could grieve. Not ten steps away, a deep voice said, “Excuse me, Miss I think you dropped this.”

Amber turned back, taking the credit card. Her hand brushed the stranger’s leather gloves. The plastic looked old and the name said “Bethany Johnson.”

Handing the card back, Amber said. “No, it’s not mine.”

With a polite smile, Amber turned away to look for her car. Hands clamped on her shoulders and in bewilderment Amber fell back when the guy grabbed her from behind. Pulling Amber against him, his large hand covered her mouth. Struggling, she bit as hard as she could, catching the leather of the glove and part of the man’s palm in her teeth.

Swearing and tightening his grip, her assailant roughly clamped down on Amber, dragging her into the parking lot where a white van pulled up. Even while she struggled, Amber felt a strange dissociation and found herself thinking how calmly the van pulled alongside. No screeching tires. No black marks on the pavement. A sign on the side advertised HVAC services. Just a regular van.  They’re going to kill me.  

Amber kicked back and twisted, nearly breaking free. The side-door partially open, Amber kicked the shin of her assailant hard when he reached to pull the door the rest of the way open. He released his grip and she tore herself away, falling on the pavement. Stumbling forward a few steps, Amber’s body crashed forward when the stranger tackled her. He picked her bodily up, kicking, scratching, and biting with everything she had. Amber flew through the van doors, her head smacking the floor of the van, and for a moment the shock of pain disorientated her.

Amber screamed for help. She had heard to use the words “Fire, Fire” as she was told to do in college, and she yelled until her air gave out. In Amber’s case nobody answered. Tears formed in the corners of her eyes as she struggled helplessly.

Jumping on top of her, her assailant shut the van door and locked it while his partner put the van in gear. Amber kept screaming until large hands gripped her neck, choking her.

Struggling for the slightest breath of air, a field of hazy dots danced across Amber’s eyes, and she forced all of her strength into one more attempt to push the guy off. He tightened his grip. Amber’s eyes locked on the stranger’s as her face turned purple from lack of oxygen. The last thing she would see was manic excitement in a pair of crazy brown eyes. As she lost consciousness, Amber thought of her husband. “John will save me.”






About jeanetteraleigh

Jeanette Raleigh is an artist and author who has spent most of her life at some creative pursuit. Whether painting a castle or writing a novel, Jeanette enjoys the playful aspects of creation and strives to make worlds where others feel at home. You can find her works of art and information about her fiction at
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