The Optogram

Noelle Jeffreys

Book Cover

GENRE

ACTION CRIME DETECTIVE DRAMA MYSTERY SUSPENSE/THRILLER OTHER

    Core Theme

    THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS WHAT THEY SEEM

    TIME PERIOD

    Contemporary

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    MINORITY REPORT; PERSON OF INTEREST

    CHARACTER LIST

    DOTHAN: EARLY 20S. AMBITIOUS, MEGALOMANIACAL CODING GENIUS.

    JANUARY: 20S. DOUBLE-CROSSER, DOTHAN’S LOVE INTEREST.

    AGNES: 50S. NOSEY, DOTHAN’S SOMETIMES BUSINESS PARTNER.

    BEKKII: 20S. DOTHAN’S FLING AND CO-WORKER.

    DETECTIVE BARCLAY: 40S. DETECTIVE WORKING THE MURDER CASE.

    NILESH: 30S. DOTHAN’S INTERNSHIP BOSS.

    Logline

    The death of a beautiful girl, the secret within her eyes and the troubled genius who opens the doorway. To solve her murder, he must stay ahead of his demons and those who want his code.

    Target Audiences

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

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Seattle, Washington, USA

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Noelle Jeffreys

    Year Published: 2021

    Starting Description

    Dothan Knox has been placed in a disappointing software development internship at an ocular facility. He creates an algorithm capable of displaying the last image seen in life on a murder victim's post-mortem retinal scan and sets out to find her murderer through the image.

    Ending Description

    Surviving a murder attempt and the revenge of a disgruntled hacker, Dothan loses everything until he sees a newspaper image of the woman who destroyed his life. He takes charge once more, determined to win her back. He's a genius, after all.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    No

    ISBN

    978-1-7327478-0-7

    Mature Audience Themes

    Substance Abuse, Language/Profanity

    Plot - Other Elements

    Philosophical Questions,Twist,Other

    Plot - Premise

    Other

    Main Character Details

    Name: Dothan Knox

    Age: 21

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Aspiring,Aggressive,Charming,Complex,Desperate,Greedy,Heartthrob,Insecure,Naive,Narcisstic,Sexy,Funny,Secretive,Manipulative

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Agnes Pitree

    Age: 60

    Gender: Female

    Role: Mentor

    Key Traits: Aggressive,Confident,Complex,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Honorable,Religious,Funny,Sarcastic,Secretive,Strong Moral Code

    Additional Character Details

    Name: January Kinsie

    Age: 28

    Gender: Female

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Badass,Charming,Aggressive,Complex,Confident,Criminal,Decisive,Engaging,Greedy,Heartthrob,Leader,Villainous,Narcisstic,Sexy,Power Hungry,Skillful,Romantic,Secretive,Seductive,Manipulative,Unapologetic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Bekkii Simms

    Age: 21

    Gender: Female

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Charming,Clumsy,Complex,Desperate,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Naive,Obedient,Selfless,Romantic,Seductive

    Development Pitch

    Imagine the discovery of the last image of life imprinted within a human eye--an optogram in Victorian times. In my story, The Optogram, a troubled genius finds a unique image behind the retina of a beautiful murder victim through his creation of a software algorithm. After he steals the information from his employer, he sets out to solve her murder, but he must stay ahead of his own mental and substance demons and those who want his code. The Optogram uses real tech, the intriguing sympathy of the coder in Mr. Robot and the noir feel and tension of the Maltese Falcon. Dothan Knox is a character that you might want to hate at first, but as he fumbles his way through a roller-coaster situation in which he is clearly over his head, a sense of sympathy is evoked. Even when it seems he can fall no further into the chasm of failure, he finds a way to survive bringing the audience with him into his desperate world.

    Genre

    SUSPENSE, THRILLER

    Brief

    A talented coder discovers he developed software that can see the last image someone saw before they died. He sets out to solve a cold case to prove the veracity of the software in hopes to sell it and become rich. But along the way he gets wrapped in the shady dealings of the corrupt company behind the killing, and he might be next.

    Overall Rating

    GOOD

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: GOOD

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: GOOD

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The premise of a software being able to see the last thing a person saw before they died is intriguing and made me want to know more.

    Draw of Story

    The premise of a software being able to see the last thing a person saw before they died is intriguing and made me want to know more.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The hints made to Dothan’s past were distracting and never had closure. They could either be eliminated or fleshed out more. There were too many hints dropped that January was the killer from pretty early on, so there never really felt like it was a mystery, it was just frustrating that Dothan couldn’t see that.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    Wanting to know the outcome of the case and what happens to the character is the hook. There is enough momentum that I would continue to be curious how things unfold.

    Fanbase Potential

    Not particularly. Ultimately, it is just another murder mystery story. People will watch it, and it’s commercial, but it doesn’t have a long shelf life.

    Awards Potential

    These types of murder mystery thrillers typically are not considered for Awards.

    Envisioned Budget

    LOW BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    MINORITY REPORT; PERSON OF INTEREST

    What’s New About the Story

    The way the murder gets solved is unique, using Dothan’s software to see the last thing a person saw before they died. Other than that, it’s a pretty standard whodunit. It could be made more unique by fleshing out Dothan’s backstory more.

    Lead Characters

    Dothan stood out because the book included times where we got to see his inner dialogue. He is a fatally flawed character with a lot of serious issues. But those are what make him interesting and unique and feel like a full person. He isn’t particularly likable, but he is compelling.

    Uniqueness of Story

    It’s not a rare gem, but it is commercial. It’s something that would be popular on Netflix for a few weeks. But it’s nothing particularly special. It’s not that it needs to be improved, it just is what it is and doesn’t necessarily stand out from other things like it in this genre.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Streaming, TV Series - Streaming, TV Series - Network

    Analyst Recommendation

    CONSIDER

    Justification

    I’m on the fence between consider and recommend because while it’s nothing special, it also is commercially viable. It’s a fine story for what it is, but it likely won’t be remembered.

    Brief

    A talented coder discovers he developed software that can see the last image someone saw before they died. He sets out to solve a cold case to prove the veracity of the software in hopes to sell it and become rich. But along the way he gets wrapped in the shady dealings of the corrupt company behind the killing, and he might be next.

    What We Liked

    The story has good forward momentum and keeps the reader engaged and wanting to know what happens next. The flawed main character is compelling. There is a good twist at the end.

    Film: This is a classic murder mystery / technology thriller story that translates well from book to film. The script could very easily take all the plot points from the book and use them as the same beats for the script. It’s a popular genre with an engaging story.

    TV: The TV show could stretch beyond the story of the book, where each episode could be another murder case that is solved by using Dothan’s technology, similar to a CSI or Person of Interest. The love story with January could be woven in and out, similar to the way it’s done on Elementary.

    Key points: Interesting premise; Surprise ending; Flawed character; Good momentum

    Synopsis

    Dothan is a talented, but troubled and egotistical college student who is placed in an internship at Dunlevy Ocular Research. He expands the project by developing code which substantially enhances the quality of the retinal scans. By doing so, he discovers some of the scans appear to show the last images of life stretched across the dead retinas. Agnes, the chief archivist and only other employee in the company basement, believes the software is a major forensic science breakthrough. She is certain it could make him extremely rich. The only problem is that technically, Dunlevy still own the rights to his work. She offers to wipe any trace of hard copy files and scans from the company records on the condition Dothan agrees to split the profits with her. Dothan reluctantly agrees.

    Dothan and Agnes must first prove these images are, in fact, the last thing a person saw before they died. Agnes insists they use the cold case of Sibella, a beautiful young woman with a large social media presence, who was found dead beside a river. The image within her eye is a unique and gilded table and easily identifiable.

    Dothan reaches out to January, described in Sibella's obituary as her best friend, to learn more about the dead woman. When they meet up, he is instantly attracted to her, and they strike up a mutual flirtation. He doesn’t reveal the truth of his mission, but instead says he’s working on a project to help memorialize murder victims. January tells him she is grateful someone still cares about her friend, and is eager to cooperate with Dothan’s work. He’s surprised to learn that both January and Sibella worked at Conscentiam, the tech giant where Dothan desperately wanted to begin his career. When Agnes is told that January works for Conscentiam, she freaks out and warns Dothan about the dangers of crossing the corporation. She also tells him to stay away from January.

    Despite Agnes's warnings, Dothan meets January once more. January tells him Sibella had been in a relationship with a corporate lawyer named Lucas before she died, but he disappeared a week before Sibella went missing. She says they need to find him as she believes he has the information they need. Dothan drops a hint about his world-changing software, but refuses to discuss its function with her.

    She comes onto him hard as they part. Later, he gets an urgent text from January asking for help. He goes to her apartment, surprised to find she lives in excessive luxury. Her apartment has been ransacked and she’s been beaten. While he’s taking care of her, it gets intimate and they sleep together. He insists that she stay at his place because her apartment is not safe. She asks him about the software again, but he delays by saying he will show her tomorrow. He searches on the dark web to see if he can find anything proving Agnes was right to be concerned, and finds a lot of employees have mysteriously disappeared from Conscentiam.

    Dothan suggests they find a way to hack the email of the detective who had been on Sibella’s case. He contacts a hacker who can get the information. The hacker agrees, but demands Dothan do a coding favor in return. Dothan receives the detective’s information. He is surprised by the discrepancies between the stories January had told him and what she has told the police. He also discovers the detective considers January the prime suspect. He refuses to believe it's true and decides to work with the detective to find the killer in order clear her name. He reaches out to the detective to set up a meeting, but doesn’t tell January what he’s doing. At the meeting, Dothan shows the detective the image found in Sibella's retina, and the detective agrees to work with him.

    The next day Agnes doesn’t show up to work, which is very unlike her. January calls him urgently to tell him that someone has ransacked him apartment. He goes home and sees that the place has been turned upside down and trashed. January is called into work, and, as Dothan believes Agnes might have been involved in the break-in of his apartment, he uses the opportunity to go to her home without January's knowledge. Just before he leaves, though, he gets an anonymous text to go to a strange address. He dismisses it as a prank.

    Agnes's house seems abandoned, but he notices a gray van canvasing the house. He fears Agnes might be in hiding, and wonders if she sent the strange text to him in order to meet her in secret. He drives to the address, but instead of Agnes, Dothan finds Lucas. Lucas insists Dothan drive him to a seedy motel and tells Dothan he will tell him everything he wants to know when he is safely in the motel room. Dothan drops him off at the hotel, but while he is waiting the police show up. There’s been a shooting. Lucas is dead.

    January breaks down and tells Dothan that she hadn’t been telling him the complete truth. He had been right about the women conning businessmen at Conscentiam. There is a company penthouse called the playpen where Sibella used to work and seduce men. Sibella got deep into drugs and January decided she needed to get them both out of there, but Joseph would not allow them leave. Now Joseph has reassigned her to the playpen.

    Dothan tells January the truth about the software and shows her how it works. He says that he will give it to Conscentiam for free as a trade to let her go. Dothan asks January to marry him. She says yes and he gives her his late mother’s ring. They go out to dinner to celebrate, but, as they are leaving the restaurant, they are jumped by someone with a knife.. After a scuffle, January's arm is slashed.

    At the apartment, Dothan continues to pressure January into giving Conscentiam the software for her release. She is forced to tell Dothan that Joseph essentially owned her and Sibella, and if January did not do what he demanded, she might also be found on a riverbank. She told him she had been followed and Joseph knows about Dothan. They will also destroy him if she tries to leave, even after making a deal regarding the software. January and Dothan hatch a plan to expose the whole operation by pretending Dothan was invited to the upcoming party at the playpen, and he would secretly videotape the illicit activities. After their return, they intended to go on the run and blackmail Joseph with the evidence.

    As she leaves, January tells him to make sure everything is ready. While he waits for his appointed time to go, the detective texts him, saying he believes he has found the right antique dealer. Dothan hacks into the store’s files, and discovers the table was purchased by January. He refuses to believe she is aware of what she has done, sure she must have brokered the sale for the murderer. He takes his pills to calm him down. After getting dressed, Dothan notices the same gray van from Agnes’s parked outside his apartment. Using knotted sheets, he climbs out the back window.

    Dothan gets on a bus, but begins to hallucinate. He can barely stay upright, but manages to make his way to the building in which the playpen is located. He bursts through the door and falls on the ground.

    When he finally comes to, the hallucinations fade. He discovers he's on the floor next to same table he'd seen in Sibella’s retina. He sees January and Althea standing near Joseph’s dead body. January tries to make him understand how he became a pawn in her plan to make it appear Dothan killed Joseph and then himself. Althea is adoringly pawing January. January tells Althea to get the gun. They are about to kill Dothan. He begs January to stop and watches her leave the playpen.

    There is some commotion. Dothan is saved by Agnes who knocks Althea out cold. She has been watching Dothan via a tracker app, but now that he is safe, she intends to obtain answers to a more personal vendetta. She ties up Althea and demands to know what happened to her lover, Reuben. He, along with so many others, disappeared years before, and Agnes now wants the truth. Althea tells Agnes Reuben is dead, and that he was actually a hitman for the company. One of the top hunters, he was ruthless in his disposal of troublemakers at Conscentiam.

    After Agnes calls the cops, she makes a deal with Althea. In exchange for the encrypted files and their silence about January, Althea must claim she killed Joseph without implicating Dothan or Agnes, and guarantee their safety from any retribution from the company or January.

    Dothan is taken to the hospital, but discovers his health insurance has been canceled and all his accounts frozen by the hacker who grew tired of waiting for Dothan to repay his earlier favor. The hacker also terminated his student loans and bounced his rent. Back at the apartment, he finds an eviction notice and that the code had been removed from its hiding place.

    With no access to money, he is dealt an even lower blow. After being placed on academic probation, Nilesh tells him his internship is at an end. Rebuffed even by Bekkii, he goes back to his apartment where he is served with restraining order papers from January. He calls Agnes and asks if she will give him a place to stay until he can start over.

    After weeks of staying with Agnes, Dothan is depressed and unsure of his future. He sees in the newspaper that January was promoted after launching Dothan’s stolen software at Conscentiam. At first he is upset, but as he looks closer at her picture he discovers January is still wearing his mother's ring. He's sure it’s a sign she still wants him. With a surge of determination to win back January, he messages the hacker and negotiates a truce by agreeing to partner with him doing large scale projects on the dark web.

    Dothan is certain that once he is back on his feet, his genius intellect will never again allow him fall. This time the world would stand aside and play by his rules.

    About The Author

    Noelle Jeffreys was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She has been involved in technology since the 1980's, She began to explore ways in which to combine tech and mystery and the result is her debut novel, The Optogram.