The First Two Pages: “Dead Even” by J.R. Sanders

In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.

As we continue to host contributors to the new Bouchercon anthology Killin’ Time in San Diego, this week’s essay by J.R. Sanders calls for an extra layer of celebration. The characters in his story “Dead Even” are drawn from his Nate Ross novels—and the second book in that series, Dead-Bang Fall, is a finalist for this year’s Shamus Award for Best P.I. Paperback. Hooray! And while we’re talking about the series, let me also point out that the first book, Stardust Trail, was also a finalist for both the Spur Award and the Silver Falchion—so a distinguished track record already, and don’t miss the latest book in the series, Bring the Night, which was released back in April. For more information on the books—and the man behind them!—visit his author website here.

Edited by Holly West, Killin’ Time in San Diego features a terrific group of authors: Kathleen L. Asay, Jennifer Berg, C.W. Blackwell, Wesley Browne, Anne-Marie Campbell, L.H. Dillman, John M. Floyd, Kim Keeline, Mary Keenan, Emilya Naymark, Richie Narvaez, Kathy A. Norris, J.R. Sanders, James Thorpe, Tim P. Walker, Victoria Weisfeld, and Désirée Zamorano. And the First Two Pages has already welcomed Emilya Naymark reflecting on her story “Girl of Gold” and Mary Keenan on “The Canadians”—with one more contributor ahead next week.

Hope everyone is enjoying these essays—and look forward to seeing folks at Bouchercon in just a couple of weeks!

Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.

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