In this post:
THE BORDER LORDS excerpted, followed by analysis.
Did you get kidnapped by this excerpt too? I did. From the first sentence, I was transported to that cave where I smelled and felt bat guano under my feet. The writing called on my sense-memory of smell and sound as much as sight. Often. writers are so caught up in plots twists and action, that we neglect descriptive time-outs like this. Action subdues for a moment, allowing the reader a great uptake of ambiance and texture.
How many choices did Parker go through before settling on the words that describe the first bat as it, “came toward him, wobbling and breeze-blown, like a black snowflake ahead of a storm.” It’s a pretty safe bet he took his time through many drafts and contemplations. The whole scene is a work of great care. The cadence of the words, the way the sentences fit together, the way the visual descriptions unfold cinematically, is masterful. Scenes like these make a strong argument for why Parker is a three-time Edgar Award winner.
“A bat ran across his path, wings upraised like a tiny man with an umbrella, looking back and up at him.” In order to write that sentence, Parker had to have more than a passing acquaintance with bats, their nature, and the mechanics of their movement. He places us in the shoes of the priest in the cave and lets us see through his eyes. By the end, we know bats a whole lot better, just as the priest does, and the story moves forward as we wonder what is he doing there? —Elaine Ash