It was a wet morning, gray skies, barely cold enough for ice to form. I stood under the awning so water wouldn’t drip on my head and leaned into the buzzer outside Abby’s building. A few seconds later there was a crackle and Abby’s tinny voice came through the intercom speaker. “Yeah?”
“Abby, it’s me. Let me up.”
The "I" is Max, since the series will be told in first person, like Chandler and Mosley and a hundred other detective stories. Abby is one of the main characters, what you could call the victim in this tale I'm about to weave. She's a bartender who fronts a rock band on weekends, a modern girl, lives alone, is no stranger to the rock n roll lifestyle but isn't a mess. But she does have a problem.
She calls her problem the Creep, a disturbing man whose face has become more familiar recently, so much so that Abby fears that she is being stalked. She hires Max to find out who it is and to get him to stop. Protection is also implied in the arrangement, and Max doesn't hesitate to call the dogs out on this one. In this case, that consists of Chuck Minney, another character who will appear throughout the series.
Chuck Minney is a fortyish guy, somewhat squat, bald, overweight and unkempt. He lives with Mom and has never really had a place of his own. He's a dork, a techno-nerd, and he's also good at surveillance, which is a talent Max needs from time to time in his detective work. He works cheap and doesn't mind sitting in his van with a bag of potato chips keeping an eye on someone. He loves it. It gets him out of the house and out from under Mom. Chuck may sound somewhat stereotypical now, but he will be fleshed out in the actual narrative.
That damn narrative. I've been working on it, and it's not coming to me. Maybe I'm just out of practice in writing fictional prose, or maybe I just need to get it out and fuck with it later. I'm leaning towards the latter, but I find myself repeating myself, and losing focus. Chapter one is where the whole set-up is established. You have to get a sense of who Max is, who Abby is, what they're doing together, AND you have to add some plot elements to keep it moving, to hook the reader (and coincidentally, the writer). It's dicey stuff.
Not to mention the fact that in chapter one, Abby and Max find an attraction so strong that they make love right there on the futon in her apartment. You'll see in a moment why this isn't just gratuitous sex inserted at the beginning to titilate the reader. It's a delicate scene. They have to go from discussing business and the Creep, two very unsexy subjects, to making out and stripping their clothes off. The scene is further complicated by the fact that Max is married (hmm, maybe that's why the sex is importan). It can't just be a spur of the moment thing because that's simply not believable. There has to be some sort of (off-screen) build-up which makes the moment where they couple inevitable, in a tragic drama kind of way.
Of course, this is a telling moment for our main character and narrator. He is a married man, getting a little action on the side, from a client no less. He genuinely cares for Abby and naturally because of that feels very protective, and almost territorial. This is important. The affair can't just be about sex, because I have something else planned for Max and Abby. It's not wham bam thank ya ma'am. There's something there that's strong enough to make Max go for it.
His wife, on the other hand, is none the wiser until some suspicious things Max does clues her in on it. The subplot of this book, I decided, will be the crumbling of Max's marriage. Who ever heard of a married PI anyway?
His wife, by the way, is a cop, er, she works for the police force in an administrative capacity. She doesn't do actual police work, but she oversees it and has juice within the department. That should give you some idea of what kind of woman she is. She's no desperate housewife. She's smart, ambitious, and tough. So how do you think she's going to take her husband's infidelity once it's discovered?