Friday, August 4, 2017

Bulwer-Lytton Awards: Crime/Detective Category

I love the Bulwer-Lytton Awards. They're always such fun, especially for readers. Following: The Winner and Runners-up in the Crime/Detective Category.

Conceived to honor the memory of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton and to encourage unpublished authors who do not have the time to actually write entire books, the contest challenges entrants to compose bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Bulwer was selected as patron of the competition because he opened his novel "Paul Clifford" (1830) with the immortal words, "It was a dark and stormy night." Lytton’s sentence actually parodied the line and went on to make a real sentence of it, but he did originate the line "The pen is mightier than the sword," and the expression "the great unwashed." His best known work, one on the book shelves of many of our great-grandparents, is The Last Days of Pompeii (1834), an historical novel that has been adapted for film multiple times.

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
 --Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

2017 Winner, Crime/Detective
  • Detective Sam Steel stood at the crime scene staring puzzled at the chalk outline of Ms. Mulgrave's body which was really just a stick figure with a dress, curly hair, boobs, and a smiley face because the police chalk guy had the day off.  Doug Self, Brunswick, Maine
Dishonorable Mentions, Crime/Detective:

  • She walked into my office and brayed, “I want you to put a tail on my husband.” — Steve Lynch, Tuscon, Arizona
  • The warehouse was completely empty except for the mutilated corpse wearing a tuxedo covered with bloodstains, and a Mortimer Snerd dummy lying nearby on the floor, and Detective McIntosh knew Snerd wouldn’t talk. — Doug Purdy, Roseville, California
  • “Not cucumber sandwiches again,” Earl “The Embezzler” DeWitt’s thoughts turned dark as he trudged through the chow line at Hummingbird State Correctional Institute, lamenting his culinary fate for the thousandth time and dreaming of the greasy sloppy joe he might be enjoying instead, if he’d only committed a manly felony, like murder, and ended up at Riker’s instead of this ersatz country club for white-collar wimps. — Maureen Donohue, Paso Robles, California
  • The church was deathly quiet: suddenly a shot rang out, a woman screamed, and somewhere in the back, a baby cried because that baby hadn't been taken to the nursery, even though the sign on the door clearly states that babies should be taken to the nursery.— Mark Schweizer, Tryon, North Carolina
  • As hard-boiled detective Max Baxter ate his soft-boiled egg, he thought about the gorgeous dame he'd found last night lying in a pool of her own blood—it being inconvenient to lie in a pool of someone else's blood—and wondered how she liked her eggs.— Pam Tallman, Huntington Beach, California
  • Detective Robertson knew he had Joyce Winters dead to rights for the murder—at the crime scene he had found Winters’ fingerprints, shell casings matching the gun registered to her, and, most damning of all, a Starbucks cup with the name “Josie” scrawled on it.— Doug Purdy, Roseville, California
  • Nobody messed with Rocky “The Anvil' Roselli, the toughest, badass mob enforcer that ever walked the mean streets of downtown LA, but for some time now he had been considering an alternative career in interior design, a secret kept well hidden from his felonious contemporaries; like a strawberry jam sandwich lying buried at the bottom of a sack of brussels sprouts.— Ted Downes, Cardiff, Wales
  • “It’s a classic,” she muttered, as she flicked the hair from the old fur coat purchased from eBay for sixty-eight dollars plus overnight shipping for the purpose of this very moment when she stuck out her hip, pulled the trigger, and shot him in that stupid face of his.— Beth Armogida, Sierra Madre, California
  • So many questions raced through the heiress's mind: Who had killed the maid and which guests were lying to her and who the hell was going to clean up all this goddamned blood because it sure as hell wasn't going to be her, she could tell you that much.— Samantha Bates, Columbia, Tennessee
  • The horizontal array of rectangular golden sunshafts that filtered through my shutters was interrupted by a statuesque silhouette appearing at my office door, her widow’s pillbox with netted veil only slightly obscuring her opalescent eyes, her alabaster d├ęcolletage accented by a sizeable amethyst pendant, and a silky floor-length ebony gown that revealed a muffin-top that clearly lacked of any kind of abdominal exercise regimen. — Peter S. Bjorkman, Rocklin, California
  • Captain Duke Ellsworth of the Poughkeepsie Police Department wondered, as he stood in the brightly lit room and stared at the gun lying on the floor, if its barrel were still warm, and what his wife was making for dinner that evening, which he would no doubt have to eat cold when he finally finished up here, especially if he paid his mistress in Fishkill a visit on the way home. — Rich Zaleski, Stevenson, Connecticut


Mary said...

All hilarious! My favorite:"Not cucumber sandwiches again,"....

Mike Gora said...

Are there similar prizes for, or at least compilations of, best real opening sentences? My favorite is still "Sixty seconds before the baby shot its father, leaves fell lazily in Central Park", from Samuel Fuller's "Brainquake".