Death Opens a Window (Mourning Dove Mysteries Book 2)

Mikel J. Wilson

Book Cover

GENRE

ACTION CRIME DETECTIVE MYSTERY SUSPENSE/THRILLER LGBT

    Core Theme

    PARTNERSHIP.

    TIME PERIOD

    Contemporary

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    TRUE DETECTIVE, THE HEAT, THE OTHER GUYS, STARSKY AND HUTCH

    CHARACTER LIST

    EMORY ROME: 23. DISGRACED SPECIAL AGENT INTENT ON PROVING HIMSELF.

    JEFF WOODARD: 23. PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR, WILLING TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO SOLVE A CASE. EMORY'S LOVE INTEREST.

    VIRGINIA KENNON: FORMER US MARINE. JEFF'S PARTNER.

    MARY BELLE: 70S-80S. LUKE'S GRANDMOTHER. DISPLACED LANDOWNER. SELF-PROCLAIMED WITCH.

    LUKE: 20S: MARY BELLE'S GRANDSON. LAID BACK. EVENTUAL ANTAGONIST.

    WAYNE: 30S. EMORY'S FORMER PARTNER, WITH A CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER.

    Logline

    Struggling with the consequences of his last case, Emory Rome must unravel the strange death of a man in a Knoxville high-rise. While he's mired in a deep pool of suspects, from an old mountain witch to the powerful TVA, the ski mask man returns & the shocking crime of someone close is unearthed.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Universal,LGBT Leaning

    Setting

    Knoxville and the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Acorn Publishing

    Year Published: 2018

    Starting Description

    A TVA employee crashes through the 29th-floor window of a high-rise office building from the outside with no other tall buildings around. Where did he come from? Former TBI agent and newly licensed PI Emory Rome takes the case with his partners and must figure out how he was murdered and why.

    Ending Description

    Emory discovers the intricate chain of events that led to the victim's death and uncovers a conspiracy involving the Tennessee Valley Authority, a windfarm and eminent domain. He also learns a dark secret about his partner and love interest, Jeff Woodard.

    Group Specific

    The series is set in the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee and features a gay investigator.

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    1947392387

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain

    Main Character Details

    Name: Emory Rome is a former TBI special agent, fired for being gay, and now partner in a PI firm in Knoxville.

    Age: 23

    Gender: Lgbt

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Masculine,Skillful,Secretive,Strong Moral Code,Honorable,Heroic,Educated,Empathetic,Engaging,Complex

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Jeff Woodard is one of the founders of Mourning Dove Investigations and the love interest of Emory Rome.

    Age: 23

    Gender: Lgbt

    Role: Tempter

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Masculine,Narcisstic,Charming,Aggressive,Confident,Sexy,Decisive,Engaging,Heartthrob,Heroic,Educated,Leader,Manipulative,Seductive,Romantic,Outspoken,Funny

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Virginia Kennon is the other founder of Mourning Dove Investigations. She is Black and a former Marine.

    Age: 25

    Gender: Female

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Modest,Sexy,Patriotic,Selfless,Skillful,Honorable,Educated,Heroic,Gracious,Flexible,Faithful,Empathetic,Badass

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    Novels in the Mourning Dove Mysteries series feature the cases of Mourning Dove Investigations, a PI firm in the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee. The series adheres to a “no guns or knives” policy for the books’ bizarre murders, which have a seemingly supernatural but ultimately scientific explanation - like The X-Files if Scully had been the one always proven right instead of Mulder. During the investigations Emory Rome, Virginia Kennon and Jeff Woodard encounter colorful suspects with aberrant secrets that twist the path to the truth. As the series progresses, we uncover more clues about Emory’s hushed past, and his relationship with Jeff continues evolving into something he can’t control.

    Genre

    ACTION, SUSPENSE, THRILLER, ROMANCE

    Brief

    After being ousted as a Special Agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, Emory Rome takes a job as a Private Investigator alongside his sometimes-lover, Jeff. But things escalate after the strange death of a man in a Knoxville high-rise, and the PIs find themselves buried in a sea of suspects, lies and mysteries that they must unravel before its too late.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: GOOD

    Franchise Potential: GOOD

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The Book Profile does a great job of reflecting the book. That said, there are a few, small considerations. The first phrase of the Logline makes it feel like we're dropped into the story a bit earlier than we are. It could be beneficial to tweak it to say something like, "After being fired from the TBI..." to keep the emphasis on the beginning of this story, instead of on the ending of the last book. In the Short Summary section, it feels like there's a bit too much emphasis on Jeff's dark secret. This book doesn't quite get into it enough to warrant inclusion, and thus it could probably be eliminated. Finally, it might be helpful to include either Luke or Mary Belle in the character section. Both are quite vital to the story line, and at least one of them should be highlighted. Otherwise, great job!

    Draw of Story

    The story starts off with a dramatic, high-tension moment, which is a great hook. A victim flies into an otherwise quiet office, and bleeds out on the floor. Meanwhile, a couple of floors down, a former Special Agent makes plans to sue his employer before heading to his new job as a PI. It's not long before both worlds intertwine, and the PIs take over the case. From there, the story begins to unravel relatively quickly, preserving the tension levels and suspense throughout.

    Possible Drawbacks

    While the tension levels are great throughout, there are a lot of characters and several different subplots to keep track of, and it's sometimes difficult. For instance, we meet Lester right before we meet Wayne and it's hard to discern which of them is more important. Perhaps Lester doesn't need to be included by name, or perhaps he could be eliminated all together for the sake of streamlining things a bit. There might also be a bit too much weight on Virginia's relationship with Becky, which ultimately doesn't feel like it pays off quite as much as it should. Narrowing the lens slightly, and capitalizing on each scene to drive the story forward, could help the storyline feel more focused and cohesive overall.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The story is a high-tension, and relatively high-stakes thriller that centers around a singular mission: find the killer. But the characters' quest isn't as easy as it seems. They are dealt several blows, twists and turns along the way, each peeling back another layer of the case. And we wait, with bated breath, as they try to piece together the clues and come to some sort of conclusion in order to be successful. It has as healthy dose of action, suspense and comedic relief that makes it a fun, compelling read with potential.

    Fanbase Potential

    A story like this might appeal to fans of whodunits, those who enjoy 'buddy cop' comedies, and audiences who favor detective stories. One draw is that it also has crossover potential. There's not much that limits this to a mature audience, so it could appeal to young adults as well. It could also have international appeal, since there's nothing overtly esoteric about it. Put more simply, the target reach is wide here, which certainly helps with marketability and creates the potential for a large fanbase.

    Awards Potential

    Based on the genre alone, it's hard to imagine this having major Awards potential, at least above the line. But there could be some potential below the line. A story like this might require clever cinematography, which could attract attention. It might also require a deep understanding of the art of the screenplay, which could attract attention as well. And depending on how it's adapted, there could be potential for things like score and costuming as well.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    TRUE DETECTIVE, THE HEAT, THE OTHER GUYS, STARSKY AND HUTCH

    What’s New About the Story

    There are several aspects of the story that feel comfortably familiar, which is actually one of its draws. But the LGBT+ leads are what really helps to elevate things. The way Emory and Jeff handle their chemistry on the page is compelling, without feeling forced. And it's great that this simply exists, without requiring any sort of 'explanation.' But, to make it even more unique might require a deeper dive into character relationships. For instance, we don't get much on Jeff's relationship with Virginia. And we don't get much on Emory's struggle with his birth parents either. Although this may come earlier in the series, it feels like it could be worth repeating here. The story should be able to stand on its own, especially when being considered for adaptation. So finding some clever ways to reiterate the nuances of these relationships could be beneficial and help the story stand out among others of its kind.

    Lead Characters

    Emory and Jeff balance each other quite well on the page, which makes them both compelling and easy to root for. Additionally, their attraction to each other often takes a back seat to their overarching mission, which works to further bond them and illustrate their shared values. Jeff's character feels so solid that we share in Emory's shock when we discover that he's been hiding something. And we end up feeling sympathy for Emory, because it feels like such a blow. It helps to make him feel a bit more approachable and relatable overall, and a great audience surrogate.

    Uniqueness of Story

    Although the project has potential, it doesn't feel like a rare gem quite yet. It feels like a bit more work is necessary in order to make this suitable for adaptation. Cutting down on the number of characters and eliminating the ancillary ones could be a great first step. And reeling in the subplots a touch could be helpful as well.

    Possible Formats

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

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    Generally, it feels like a bit more streamlining and focus is necessary in order to make this a good fit for adaptation. There are a lot of ancillary characters and some subplots that muddy the primary storyline and, at certain points, make it somewhat hard to follow. Similarly, it feels like we're missing some information to help the story fully stand on its own. For instance, it'd be great to have a little more on Emory's past, and his relationship with his birth parents. That said, there is potential here. The lead characters are compelling, and it feels like just the right amount of comedic relief lightens things up.

    Tips for Improvement

    Experiencing the story through a narrower lens could be helpful, and might make this feel like a much better fit for adaptation. Tightening the subplots and eliminating some of the ancillary filler characters could be a great place to start. And further developing some of the character relationships, like Jeff's and Virginia's, could be helpful, too. The source material is certainly here, and it feels like with some clever revisions, this could end up being a great fit for adaptation. Keep at it, and best of luck!

    Brief

    After being ousted as a Special Agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, Emory Rome takes a job as a Private Investigator alongside his sometimes-lover, Jeff. But things escalate after the strange death of a man in a Knoxville high-rise, and the PIs find themselves buried in a sea of suspects, lies and mysteries that they must unravel before it’s too late.

    What We Liked

    The LGBT+ leads are a huge draw, and their relationship is compelling on the page without overshadowing the primary storyline. And although this isn't the first book in the series, besides a few small instances, the story does a decent job of standing on its own. Additionally, the storyline is riddled with twists and turns and quickly becomes a trendy whodunit, with YA crossover appeal and room for continuity.

    Film: Although this isn't the first book in the series, the story does a decent job of standing on its own. That said, there is clearly franchise potential here. There is no definitive ending, and we're left with some questions and suspense that prime us for the next step in Emory and Jeff's journeys. As a standalone piece, it is a comfortably familiar whodunit with compelling LGBT+ leads and enough twists and turns to sustain a feature format.

    TV: The source material could work quite well for a TV format. Without a definitive ending, there is room for expansion and continuity. It might even work well as an anthology series (a la American Horror Story), if each book in the series does a deep dive into a specific crime. The LGBT+ leads make an otherwise familiar whodunit series feel fresh and modern, while staying compelling, engaging and easy to root for on the page. Additionally, there is potential crossover appeal. While it is a crime series with adult leads, there is a pleasant lightheartedness to it that could attract a young adult audience, making the project feel approachable to many.

    Key points:
    Franchise potential.
    LGBT+.
    High-tension.
    Crossover appeal.
    Suspenseful.

    Synopsis

    A woman works at her desk in a high-rise. A man, COREY, crashes through the window and dies on the floor. EMORY ROME meets with a lawyer in hopes of suing the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations for wrongful termination. JEFF and his partner, VIRGINIA, prepare their Private Investigator firm for Emory’s arrival. On his first day, Virginia asks them to take on the dead man’s case.

    The PIs travel to the crime scene. Emory meets LESTER from TBI, who lets them into the crime scene. Jeff notices red burn marks on the victim’s hand, and Emory notices his former partner, WAYNE, show up. Wayne and his new partner, STEVE, kick the PIs out of the crime scene. Emory and Jeff sneak up to the roof to look for evidence, and suspect foul play.

    Jeff and Emory visit Corey’s employer, the Tennessee Valley Authority. Corey’s boss, DARREN GLEASON, allows them to look around. The interim manager, FRANK, is coerced into giving Jeff and Emory a copy of Corey’s files. We learn that Corey was working on a windfarm project, in which several homeowners were forced to leave their land.

    Virginia learns that Corey was a wannabe bone taxidermist. Becky reveals that Corey was promoted over Frank, and that he was seeing a holistic therapist for a fear of heights. Virginia notices a large bruise on Becky’s shoulder, in the shape of four fingers.

    Virginia argues to give up the case, but Jeff and Emory convince her that they have to keep working. They make plans to talk to Corey’s therapist and to visit the displaced landowners from the wind farm project. Emory approaches the new home of the elderly MARY BELLE HINTER. Her nephew, LUKE, tells Emory that his aunt is in an assisted living facility. There, Mary Belle tells him that she cursed Corey and urges Emory to help her get back her land. When he tells her that there’s nothing he can do, she curses him too.

    Emory meets Jeff at a department store, where Jeff seeks out one of the landowners, PETER WEST. Peter becomes enraged when Jeff accuses him of killing Corey. The next morning, Emory discovers ANDERSON ALEXANDER of the TBI waiting outside of his apartment. He offers Emory the chance to lead his own division, if he drops his lawsuit. Emory promises to think about it. He and Jeff visit the Natural History Museum to question the curator about Corey’s taxidermy. Jeff enters a private section of the museum and overhears a man and woman speaking. The man, MONTY, holds a knife to him. Emory pulls out his gun, and the woman, the curator, CLAIRE, deescalates the situation.

    Jeff and Emory visit CATHY, who has just finished performing Corey’s autopsy. They learn that he had rope burns on both of his hands. As they’re leaving the mortuary, discovers a chicken bone and twine doll under one of Jeff’s windshield wipers.

    Jeff and Emory visit Corey’s therapist, RANDY GRAHAM, and on their way out of the therapy center, Jeff gets stuck behind a slow delivery truck. He illegally passes it and Emory notices that something is wrong with Jeff’s tire. The car spins out of the control and the wheel falls off.

    Virginia reveals that Becky’s tire was tampered with a week before Corey died. On his laptop, she discovered that he was looking into home security systems. Jeff and Emory question Frank and learn that Peter West confronted Corey at the TVA office before his death. They rush back to question him, but the TBI agents arrive and arrest Peter for Corey’s murder.

    Back at home, Emory notices an open window. He searches his apartment and discovers a man with a ski mask hiding in the closet. A fight ensues, but the intruder escapes through the window. At work, he tells Jeff about the intruder’s mask, and we learn that it’s the same person who caused Jeff’s accident weeks prior.

    Jeff, Emory and Virginia attend Corey’s funeral and Virginia finds Darren and Becky embracing. She asks Becky if she is having an affair with Darren, and Becky gets testy. Jeff and Emory visit Corey’s office, and Emory finds a holistic crystal. The men notice that the flagpole rope has been cut and find it inside of gym bag in one of the air vents. Emory calls the TBI to report it, and Wayne and Steve appear. Wayne warns Emory to stay out of his investigation.

    Emory invites Jeff over for dinner, and things escalate. As they head for the bedroom, neither of them notices the red light blinking outside of Emory’s window. Jeff books the PIs on a local TV broadcast, and Emory comes clean about his offer from the TBI. Emory and Jeff argue, and Emory walks off the set. He visits Mary Belle about removing the curse and drives her to her former home to say a proper goodbye. She tells Emory that the only way to remove the curse is to die. Meanwhile, Jeff visits Peter West in prison and begins to believe that Peter is innocent.

    Mary Belle gathers the potions and charms that Luke forgot to take when she moved out. He learns that she had a female lover who disappeared after her parents discovered their relationship. Mary Belle begins to feel ill back at the facility and Luke informs Emory that she has liver cancer.

    Jeff arrives to question Randy again. Meanwhile, Virginia goes to Becky’s to apologize. Through the curtains, she sees a man in a ski mask holding a knife to Becky’s side. After calling the police and Jeff, she discovers that it’s Becky and Randy role playing. They have been having an affair.

    Emory discovers that the TVA is auctioning off the land, and Jeff learns that Frank never agreed with Corey’s decision. Virginia learns that Corey usurped Claire’s husband, Monty, as the taxidermist for the museum. She approaches Monty and when he threatens her, she dislocates his finger. Jeff and Virginia make plans to meet at a bar. Meanwhile, someone breaks into Emory’s parents’ house.

    Jeff drunk texts Emory after Virginia doesn’t show, and Emory arrives at the bar to take him home. A homophobic man elbows Emory and chaos ensues. The police arrive and threaten to take both parties to jail. A man informs Emory that the officer told the aggressor to lie about Emory touching him inappropriately. He offers to serve as a witness, but Emory wants to drop the matter.

    Virginia wakes up in a hole in the ground and comes face to face with a skeleton. The next morning, Emory discovers a bug in his apartment. He decides that it was placed there by the TBI.

    Mary Belle arrives at Jeff’s office looking for Emory. She convinces Jeff to drive her back to the property so she can put a spell on it that ensures she’ll win it back at auction. Emory goes out to breakfast with his parents, and his father offers him a job. Emory turns it down.

    Emory tells his parents that his apartment has been bugged by the TBI and his father tells him about the break in. Emory presents his father with a picture of himself as a child and asks him to dust it for fingerprints. Meanwhile, Jeff hears a noise from his apartment and enters to find the masked man. Chaos ensues, and the man slips out the window. Downstairs, Jeff asks the local homeless man, PHINEAS, whether he’s seen anyone. As Jeff walks back into the building, we see Phineas pull out the ski mask and smile.

    Emory arrives and tends to Jeff. They try to discover the masked man’s identity. We learn that Frank deposited $9,000 in his account after Corey’s death. Emory arrives at his office to question him, and Frank tells him that his wife handles the finances. Jeff sneaks into Frank’s apartment and scrambles onto the balcony when he hears the front door.

    Frank arrives home and asks his wife, LETTIE, about the money. Lettie begins abusing him. Lettie finds Jeff on the balcony and calls the police. From jail, Jeff asks Emory to bail him out. Emory visits the Belchers and coerces them to drop the charges. Jeff is pleased with what Emory did for him, and they ride away from the police station holding hands.

    Emory’s father finds a single fingerprint in the middle of the photograph and identifies it as Emory’s birth father. He identifies the envelope from the desk of his wife, meaning that his house was broken into twice.

    Emory and Jeff try to track down Virginia’s car, but they need Wayne’s authority at the TBI. They follow Wayne to the wind farm project and find Virginia in a hole with a dying surveyor, CLAYTON, next to her. Virginia reveals that she saw a drone on her way down to help Clayton. When she mentions the skeleton, Emory realizes that it is Mary Belle’s missing lover.

    The land auction begins, and Jeff and Emory are surprised to see Peter West, who was released after the TBI failed to produce enough evidence to charge him. They are even more surprised to see Randy Graham, who informs them that the is going to buy all of the land to build a new holistic retreat. The men hurry to find Luke and save Mary Belle’s property. Jeff calls Emory’s father and has him fake an arrest warrant for Randy. Randy is arrested, and two lots remain. Luke wins Mary Belle’s property back, and Darren outbids Peter West on the other.

    Emory tells Mary Belle about the remains. Mary Belle cries. In Clayton’s hospital room, FRANK LEAKEY tells the men that the sink hole is actually a zinc mine.

    Darren prepares the land deeds for Randy, and Mary Belle’s property. Jeff calls Frank to get a hold of Emory and insists that he’s put on speaker. To the room, he reveals that Corey’s cell phone has been missing since his murder. Emory goes up to the rooftop to catch the killer. Luke appears. Chaos ensues and Emory is thrust over the side of the building, holding the rope of the flagpole. He catapults into the office, next to where Corey died. Luke and Jeff struggle on a billboard. Luke slips and falls to his death.

    Emory arrives at the hospital to take Mary Belle home. He shows her the new burial site for her lover. Emory tells the TBI that he’s going to stick it out with Jeff, but Anderson Alexander hands him a file that proves that Jeff isn’t who he claims to be. Jeff digs in the basement. He pulls open a coffin and we see a decomposing body. Later, he takes the case file and marks it closed.

    About The Author

    Mikel J. Wilson draws on his Southern roots for the international bestselling Mourning Dove Mysteries, a series of novels featuring bizarre murders in the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee. The series adheres to a “no guns or knives” policy and includes Murder on the Lake of Fire, Death Opens a Window and A Light to Kill By. Wilson is also the author of Sedona: The Lost Vortex, a modern science-fiction novel centered on the unique mythology of this mystical Northern Arizona town, known for energy vortexes and alien encounters.