Finn by Jon Clinch

Opening line:

Under a low sun, pursued by fish and mounted by crows and veiled in a loud languid swarm of bluebottle flies, the body comes down the river like a deadfall stripped clean.

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The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Opening line:

Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Opening line:

Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Opening line:

Mr Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he stayed up all night, was seated at the breakfast table.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Opening line:

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun.

The Dain Curse by Dashiell Hammett

Opening line:

It was a diamond all right, shining in the grass half a dozen feet from the the blue brick wall.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Opening line:

They murdered him.

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum

Opening line:

The trawler plunged into the angry swells of the dark, furious sea like an awkward animal trying desperately to break out of an impenetrable swamp.

A Scandal in Bohemia by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Opening line:

To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman.

As Simple As Snow by Gregory Galloway

Anna Cayne had moved here in August, just before our sophomore year in high school, but by February she had, one by one, killed everyone in town. She didn’t do it all by herself – I helped with a few, including my best friend – but still, it was no small accomplishment, even if it was a small town.

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