Uncorking a Murder

Michael Carlon

Book Cover

GENRE

DETECTIVE MYSTERY SUSPENSE/THRILLER

    Core Theme

    JUSTICE, REDEMPTION, CORRUPTION

    TIME PERIOD

    Contemporary

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    BIG SKY, DARK PLACES

    CHARACTER LIST

    FARRAH GRAHAM (F/40S) -- CONFIDENT, COMPETENT, SUCCESSFUL PODCASTER IN SEARCH OF HER NEXT STORY.

    RODNEY PETERS (M/50S-60S) -- AGING FORMER INVESTIGATOR WHO SETS OUT TO REVERSE AN UNJUST PROSECUTION AS A LAST MISSION OF SORTS.

    JIMMY "DOUBTS" RELLA (M/20S) -- COLLEGE STUDENT AND INTERN OF FARRAH'S WHO TAGS ALONG TO FLORIDA TO INVESTIGATE THE SONNY MICHAELS CASE.

    SONNY MICHAELS (M/40S) -- GENIUS RESEARCHER WHO SUFFERS FROM SEVERE PSYCHOSES AND WHO IS FRAMED FOR HIS WIFE'S MURDER.

    ADRIAN TEPES (M/40S) -- FORMIDABLE, LAWLESS BIOTECH CEO, WHO MODELS HIMSELF AFTER DRACULA AND WHO COORDINATED THE FRAMING OF SONNY MICHAELS AND THE COVER UP OF THE MURDER OF SONNY'S WIFE.

    GERRY FEIN (M/50S) -- FORMER IRA COMMANDO WORKING AS A HENCHMAN AND ENFORCER FOR THE FORMIDABLE CEO.

    Logline

    A retired detective tight on time partners up with a white hot true-crime podcaster to right a wrong in this Serial meets Gone Girl thriller.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54

    Target Gender: Female Leaning

    Setting

    Ft. Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Connecticut.

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Uncorking a Story Publishing

    Year Published: 2016

    Starting Description

    Detective Derek Krunch checks into a cheap motel in Pompano Beach after walking in on his wife with another man. While sitting at the bar, he gets a call that the body of Sonny Michaels, his former partner's son, has washed up on shore.

    Ending Description

    It is revealed that Derek is Sonny and has been experiencing a psychotic break. Sonny's wife, however, was murdered and Sonny was framed for her death. 5 years later, the detective who put him away works with a podcaster to unravel the truth, clear Sonny's name, and deliver justice to the guilty.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    978-0-692-76075-8

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Quest,Overcoming Monster/Villain

    Main Character Details

    Name: Farrah Graham

    Age: 45

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Badass,Confident,Engaging,Heroic,Educated,Leader,Masculine,Sexy,Skillful,Sarcastic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Jimmy Doubts

    Age: 22

    Gender: Male

    Role: Sidekick

    Key Traits: Clumsy,Educated,Insecure,Naive,Sexy,Strong Moral Code

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Adrian Tepes

    Age: 45

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Badass,Educated,Sophisticated,Aggressive,Charming,Confident,Criminal,Decisive,Greedy,Masculine,Villainous,Narcisstic,Power Hungry

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Rodney Peters

    Age: 67

    Gender: Male

    Role: protagonist

    Key Traits: Badass,Confident,Decisive,Desperate,Honorable,Sarcastic

    Development Pitch

    And the truth shall set you free. This is the underlying theme of Uncorking a Murder. While it is definitely a story about a detective trying to right a wrong before his number is up, it's really about how greed can cause good people to do bad things and how those bad things eat away at you and possess you. This story would work best as a series and would fit nicely into into a 10 episode arc. As it is the first book in what is now a four book series, there are at least four seasons in what would be an Uncorking a Murder franchise. People will keep watching for the masterfully executed twists, smart dialogue, and relationship dynamics between the two primary antagonists Farrah and Jimmy. It's got the right amount of suspense, drama, and humor to appeal to those who appreciate shows like Billions, Suits, and Succession.

    Genre

    SUSPENSE, THRILLER

    Brief

    In Pompano Beach, Florida, a disgruntled biotech researcher who suffers from vivid delusions is framed for his wife's murder, coordinated by his company in a massive corporate conspiracy. Five years, later a podcaster teams up with a retired detective to reopen the researcher's case. Together, they uncover the conspiracy and lead the FBI to holding the conspirators accountable, freeing the innocent researcher as a result.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: GOOD

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The profile does a fair job of reflecting the book, although the logline leaves out the first part, and the phrase "Serial meets Gone Girl thriller" strikes as confusing and ill-advised.

    Draw of Story

    The author asks many questions of the audience, which keeps them in suspense without delay. It becomes clear that there is something strange and off about the world of Derek Krunch, and it draws the reader in effectively.

    Possible Drawbacks

    Especially in the second half, there are many chapters that strike as inefficient and superfluous. More can be done to cut, condense, and simplify some of the mundanity. Prominent examples included the handful of chapters dedicated exclusively to Farrah, Rodney, and Jimmy's travels and logistics.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    This work is a natural reaction to the true crime and podcast crazes. Fans of either might flock to this work en masse.

    Fanbase Potential

    Not a large fanbase-- This work caters to a specific, perhaps niche, audience. This is a textbook mid-sized budget project geared toward a mid-sized audience.

    Awards Potential

    No. This does not fit in well with the usual crop of awards contenders. This is more of a commercial, popcorn kind of project.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    BIG SKY, DARK PLACES

    What’s New About the Story

    This is an interesting project for its mashing up of true crime and the podcast world into a fictional narrative. If anything, the twist of Derek Krunch and Sonny being the same person feels familiar. Little is being added to what we have seen before in this regard.

    Lead Characters

    Several characters feel archetypal, but Sonny stands out as interesting for his complexity-- He is brilliant but encumbered by psychoses and by corporate politics and conspiracy. His moral conundrum makes him sympathetic in his brief time. Moreover, Farrah is interesting in that she is rather matter-of-fact, confident, and committed to her work. Her slew of admirable qualities make her fun to watch.

    Uniqueness of Story

    This is not a rare gem. Not yet, anyway. There is much work to be done to strengthen the second half of this work-- Much is included that is not of vital importance to the work at large and to the characters. No less than half-a-dozen chapters can be trimmed down, if not excised completely. Start later, and finish sooner. This is a principle that can be better applied here-- We do not need to see Farrah and co. traveling and waiting in line as much as we do. Moreover, it can't help but to come across that the Sonny/Derek twist is familiar. That we have seen this twist on more than a handful of occasions makes the payoff and shock value feel limited.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, Film - Studio, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series, TV Series - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.

    Tips for Improvement

    As noted, there is much bloat in this work, particularly in the second half, that warrants further consideration. Some of the characters could benefit from further development, namely Rodney and Jimmy, who feel like they are governed by singular characteristics as opposed to being rendered with many, with complexity. Lastly, the major twist feels a bit trite-- It doesn't seem to amplify or evolve similar revelations that have come before.

    Brief

    After a genius, but mentally ill researcher is framed for his wife's murder, a retired detective and a successful true crime podcaster team up to overturn the unjust conviction and to expose a massive corporate conspiracy.

    What We Liked

    What is interesting about this story is how it takes in and interprets the true crime and podcast crazes in America. Fans of either will have some inherent interest in and incentive to invest in this work.

    Film: This would be a solid adaptation for film thanks to the larger-than-life qualities it seems to have. The epic stakes of the massive conspiracy, the action in the form of Farrah's travels and Gerry's misdeeds, and the memorable, terrifying villain in Adrian Tepes will be sure to serve an adaptation to screen quite well.

    TV: This would be a good adaptation for TV because the large scope of its story bodes well for supporting several hours of content. The many twists, turns, and revelations will be sure to afford an adaptation a slew of cliffhanger episode endings to keep the audience coming back for more.

    Key points: The built-in true crime audience; The memorable, formidable villain in Adrian Tepes; The moral conundrums faced by several characters throughout; The haunting imagery and palpable suspense of the climax; The many twists and turns and revelations throughout.

    Synopsis

    In Pompano Beach, Florida, Detective DEREK KRUNCH investigates the murder of SONNY MICHAELS, the son of another policeman. All the while, Sonny's wife, MIA MICHAELS, frets about her missing husband. She becomes suspicious of his company and discovers that Sonny has discovered a cure for diabetes-- conceivably a huge threat to his company's profits. Mobilized by Public Affairs VP LUCY HENDRICKS and Romanian CEO ADRIAN TEPES, who models himself after Vlad Dracula, muscle-for-hire GERRY FEIN kidnaps Mia and falsely imprisons her while the company leaders search for Sonny. Derek continues investigating the murder, but it is soon revealed that ""Derek Krunch"" is a mere delusion of Sonny Michaels, who suffered from not infrequent psychoses. In the end, Sonny is framed for Mia's murder and sentenced to life in prison, while Adrian and co. get away with the crime scot-free.

    Five years later, Connecticut-based podcaster FARRAH GRAHAM and her girlfriend MELODY NOTE ponder a follow up to their very successful first season. After a call from former Detective RODNEY PETERS, Farrah heads to Florida with her intern JIMMY ""DOUBTS"" RELLA to hear Rodney's case on exploring the Sonny Michaels conviction for their next season. Soon, Farrah realizes the merits of the story, and she begins to reopen the case alongside Rodney. As they start to retrace Sonny's steps and conduct interviews, word travels quickly to Adrian and Lucy, with Adrian ordering Gerry to follow the new investigators. With remarkable ease, the investigators realize that it is impossible that Sonny abducted and killed his own wife, raising the question of who quashed the investigation and why.

    Soon, Gerry heads to Connecticut to abduct Melody in order to coerce Farrah, but Melody subdues her attacker and police promptly take him in. While Adrian grows increasingly paranoid and drugs Lucy, Farrah and Rodney turn over the new evidence to the FBI. They then head to Adrian's home against FBI orders. Inside, they find a coffin, a drugged police officer, and Adrian, who has been constricted by his giant pet snake. In the end, the FBI is able to match Gerry's newly collected blood sample to the blood from the Michaels crime scene. It's traced back to Adrian, while Lucy spills all to law enforcement. A year later, while Adrian awaits trial, Farrah and Melody prepare to release their highly-anticipated season 2.

    About The Author

    When he's not writing, Michael Carlon is an esteemed and well-traveled marketing professional and the host of the Uncorking a Story podcast. In addition to the successful Farrah Graham series, Michael's works include the standalone novels The Ruin of Souls, Return to Casa Grande, and Winning Streak.