01 July 2006

Synopsis: Security & Exchange

It is the first of July, and I made my commitment to complete the detailed outline for Security and Exchange while other friends are writing another full novel as part of JulNoWriMo. So, I'm starting this entry with what I think is an overview synopsis of the story, my approach, and how it will develop. Then I'll start with chapter by chapter outline tomorrow.

Security & Exchange is a first person detective novel borrowing heavily on the traditions of such detectives as Sam Spade, Mike Hammer, Phillip Marlowe, and Peter Gunn. The tone is somewhat tongue-in-cheek without being self-effacing. The Main Character (MC) is 55-year-old Dag Hamar, of Swedish descent, raised in Ballard (Scandanavian suburb of Seattle), Washington. His side-kick is 25-year-old Deborah Riley. The thirty year age difference figures heavily in some of the story. At this point, suffice it to say that Riley (as Dag calls her) is his secretary, apprentice, and "legs".

That is where the first of three interwoven storylines kicks in: Dag is in failing health, badly in need of a heart transplant due to a bout of Rheumatic Fever as a child. The clock is ticking on him. He spends a lot of time laid up or in the hospital and depends on Riley to do the legwork for significant parts of the mystery. Dag narrates the story revealing a lot about the reality of facing death in a middle-aged man.

Storyline two: Dag regresses back through his life a decade at a time, starting by relating the story of his first full fledged heart attack six months earlier. It marks the beginning of his relationship with Riley. At six points in the book he tells a story about what happened when he was 40, 33, 26, 16, and 6. Those are a little arbitrary, and as I work out the outline, the exact ages may differ. These sections each start with a sentence like "I was fifty-five when I decided to become an acrobat."

The third storyline, of course, is the mystery itself. In it, Dag is approached by a woman near his own age who is looking for her missing husband. She approaches Dag for several reasons, not all of which are immediately apparent. But the express reason is because Dag is known first and foremost as a leading investigator in computer forensics. Brenda Barnette (the client) brings Dag her husband's laptop computer which she believes holds the secret of his disappearance, but which she cannot access past the password. Throughout the story, we see Dag piece together the clues from the computer to paint a picture of infidelity, gambling, embezzlement, and money laundering. As he discovers a trail that leads into organized crime and eventually Simon Barnette's body, the other parties interested start targeting Dag as a threat or an avenue to more information. These include the mistress, her boyfriend, Simon's partner, and the mob boss that Simon was working for. (Possibly also an FBI agent.)

The story will be written during the month of November as part of NaNoWriMo, and the story will unfold during a November with each day's narration by Dag corresponding to the day's in November. That means there will be 30 chapters, including the six that are interludes in the action telling the decade by decade revelations that show Dag where to go next in his investigation. Next: The outline for Chapter One.