I’m a sucker for books with swamps in them, and I love a good opening line, too. Much of Deborah LeBlanc’s novel WATER WITCH takes place in the Louisiana bayous, and how’s this for an opening line:
After soaking his father with three gallons of gasoline, Olm lit a match and tossed it onto the old man’s body.
Nothing like getting right to it, I say.
The rest of the book is pretty good, too. The protagonist is a young woman named Dunny Pollock who has a secret: she has an extra finger on her left hand, and that finger allows her to find things. Sometimes it turns cold, sometimes it gets hot like it’s on fire, and sometimes it jerks around and points in different directions, depending on what Dunny is trying to find. She’s always considered herself a freak and tries to hide her ability, but she has to use it when her sister, who’s a schoolteacher in a small Louisiana town, asks her to help find a couple of young children who have disappeared in the swamp.
Of course, the reader knows there’s more going on than just a couple of missing kids. There’s a supernatural evil at work in the swamp, too, as Dunny eventually comes to realize. LeBlanc provides a lot of humor and small-town local color and a little romance, interspersed with scenes of creepy, graphic violence, and while it’s an odd blend, it’s certainly effective. She keeps the pace moving along nicely, throws in a plot twist near the end that I didn’t see coming, and builds everything up to a satisfying climax. WATER WITCH is the first novel I’ve read by LeBlanc, but it definitely won’t be the last. Recommended.