That’s how it starts. This brilliant opening sentence can be found in Markus Zusak’s The Messenger. It sets the scene so incredibly well and yet, is full of questions. Why is the gunman useless? What’s the gunman’s relationship to the narrator? What environment is it; a war zone, a robbery, a political protest? We soon find out that is it a bank robbery.
The gunman, is useless.
The sentence also tells the reader that the narrator (who doesn’t have a name for another four pages) is not bothered by the robbery, or feels that his life is in any great danger. The gunman’s incompetence suggests, at least from the narrator’s point of view, that the robbery and any threat associated with it, does not need to be taken seriously.
The book moves forward with a similar wry sense of humour and a cunning choice of words, which makes the reader feel as though they are pulled along with the action. The mystery which drives the plot is incredibly well constructed; it’s intricacy is something for writers to aspire to. Throw in the Doorman, a useless but loveable old dog who likes coffee, and this book has something for just about everyone.
I can highly recommend The Messenger to readers young and old.