The Hollywood Portal – winner of Whodunit 2018 Mystery Award

The 2018 Mystery Writers Whodunit Award is to be presented at the 5th Annual Mystery Fest Key West, a gathering of world-class mystery writers and fans set for June 22-24 in Key West, Florida.

“Why just the first three pages? A book either captures a reader in the first three pages, or it doesn’t.”

Mystery Fest Key West

Whodunit Mystery Writing Competition.

The winner will claim a book-publishing contract with Absolutely Amazing eBooks, free Mystery Fest Key West 2018 registration, airfare, hotel accommodations for two nights, meals and a Whodunit Award trophy to be presented at the 5th Annual Mystery Fest Key West, set for June 22-24 in Key West, Florida.”

I’m going early so I can dive and snorkel- If it was the Bakersfield Award I wouldn’t.

“Candidates are invited to submit the first three pages (maximum 750 words) of a finished, but unpublished manuscript.

“Why just the first three pages? That criterion is a nod to late author Jeremiah Healy, a world-class mystery writer and a great judge of mystery writing,” says Shirrel Rhoades, co-founder of Mystery Fest Key West. “Jerry’s opinion was that a book either captures a reader in the first three pages…or it doesn’t. The competition judges all agreed with that assessment, and decided to use it as a yardstick for the competition.”

Below is the very beginning of the first three pages, maybe a page and 1/2.

It’s The Hollywood Portal, the sequel to Electric Detective – available in ebook, paperback and audible.

Below is the beginning of the winning pages.

images (1)

The Hollywood Portal

By E.E. King

Chapter One

The Chase

LA is a desert in a party dress. Despite miles of green lawn and chlorine oasis, the air is full of sand, grit, and hope so tangible you can feel it in the wind. Perhaps it is our thirst that makes us so isolated. Even the LA River is a highway. A drop of rain falling onto the paved thoroughfare in the San Gabriel Mountains ten thousand feet above the City can reach the sea faster than a speeding car. We are a city of twelve hundred thousand gold diggers prospecting on concrete banks.

It was unusually muggy, the air warm and heavy with moisture, the sky low and white. There was no horizon. In the Midwest weather like this might mean tornados, in the mountains a sky so pale signaled snow, but here the blurring of perspective felt like a premonition.

I’d been home for a couple of weeks. No cases to investigate, only the continual nudging of electricity in the air, speaking in whispers and signs that only Max-cat and I could understand. It’d been just about eight months since we’d been struck by lightning; eight months since the universe had begun to vomit its secrets into my unwilling ears.

I sat at my desk, staring into space. It stared back. We could relate to each other. We both had too much emptiness and nothing to fill it.

I poured a cup of coffee. It was black, and too bitter. I looked in cupboard hoping for some sugar, but all I could find was a jar of honey so old it had crystalized. Maggie had probably bought it. I closed my mind to memory and dumped a couple of sticky spoonfuls into the mix making it bitter-sweet.

I hadn’t drunk anything stronger for six months, two days and three hours. It wasn’t easy. Once liquor has your number it calls you often and makes more promises than an old lover. It nudges you when you’re lonely, whispering that it will ease your pain. It tempts you when you’re happy, swearing it can make you feel even better. It’s there late at night when all the world is sleeping. It guarantees that this time will be different, this time things won’t get out of control. You start to forget all the bad times. The headaches, the nights you can’t remember. All you recall is that the world had softer edges when you were together. All you can think about is that dusky glow wrapped around you like a cloak. You reconcile, you tell yourself that you can just be friends. By the time you remember why you broke up it’s too late. By the time you realize that the promises are lies you’re hooked again.

I sipped my honey-coffee, opened a can of tuna for Max, and watched him drink, his rough tongue scooping the liquid up like a dipper. As usual he refused to touch the flesh. Max likes his fish distilled.

Despite the humidity I decided to go for a run. If you’re going to let heat stop you, you shouldn’t live in a desert. I put on some old sweatpants and a discolored tee. A lot of men in Hollywood wear matching jogging suits made of terry cloth, or velour. It doesn’t seem to bother them. I’m not big on fashion, but I don’t like wearing matching clothes made out of towels. And I donated my velour to an artist for his Elvis masterwork.

Outside tiny damp pads of moisture prodded me. I ignored them and began to jog down Braham Blvd toward the Hollywood Knolls that rise above Universal Studios. I didn’t jog for the exercise. I ran so that the pounding of my feet on hard pavement, the gasping of my lungs and the beating of my heart would drum all thoughts from my head, leaving it empty and still. Thinking is overrated. It fills you with hope, fear and memories, all of which I could do without.

I turned up Wonderview Dr. that led up to the Hollywood reservoir. Large white Spanish houses with red tiled roofs fringed by green lawns and exotic flowers lined the narrow streets that wove up the hill like veins. Up here you’d never imagine that LA was a desert and that water was in short supply. But then, up here there were no shortages. Enough greenbacks and blue chips can buy green yards and blue pools.


About E.E. King

Writing/Painting/Pilates/Scuba/Travel and animals...anything that won't pay the bills. I'm an unintentional nonprofit I've worked with children in Bosnia, crocodiles in Mexico, frogs in Puerto Rico, egrets in Bali, mushrooms in Montana, archaeologists in Spain and planted butterfly gardens in South Central Los Angeles. The butterflies wish I had chosen a different location. Check out my website and read a story, or better yet buy a book, painting or audio. UnfortunatelY, All of the profits go toward animal rescue.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s