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Celebrity entries: Pamela Callow and Howard Shrier

The Page Turner Challenge is on until May 22! We are looking for you to write the opening scene of a crime or mystery story (in 250 words or less). We'll post some of our favourites on the Canada Writes site. The winner of the most compelling scene (as selected by Louise Penny) will win an iPad.

To help us get started, we asked several Crime Writers of Canada members to provide us with some great examples. Let's see how some of the pros do it...

Abridged excerpt from Tattooed
By Pamela Callow


Roman numeral X.

X marks the spot.

In John McNally’s case, prison.

On the tenth day of serving his ten-year prison term for manslaughter, McNally tattooed an X over his heart.

Ten years, seven with parole. 

Done today.

He shifted on his bunk. Where the hell was the correctional officer? For a second, panic froze his brain. Maybe today wasn’t his release date. Maybe he got it wrong.  His gaze fell on his freshly-emptied locker. No. He was leaving today.

Adrenaline surged through him. 

He fisted his hands, studying the tattoos that had shaped his life: LOVE tattooed on the knuckles of his left hand; HATE tattooed on the knuckles of the right.

The classic ink of the tattooist’s psyche.

The love and the hate had never changed, never gone away.

For over half his life he had loved Kenzie Sloane.

And for over half his life he had hated her for what she had done.

But he had a plan.

A plan that would bring them full circle.

Back to the day they had plotted to make Imogen Lange their first victim. Imogen had been the blood tie that would have bound Kenzie to him.

And then Imogen was taken away. By her sister, the holier-than-thou Kate Lange.

Now, seventeen years later, he was ready to set things right.

First he had to track down Kenzie.

And then he would find Kate Lange.

He cracked his knuckles. The hand with HATE gave a satisfying pop.

He was ready.


A member of the Nova Scotia bar, Pamela Callow is the internationally published author of the critically-acclaimed legal thrillers Damaged (June 2010), Indefensible (January 2011) and Tattooed (JUNE 2012) for Mira Books. Visit her website at www.pamelacallow.com to learn more about her Halifax-based legal thriller series.

I Love Women
By Howard Shrier

I love women. I love them in all shapes and sizes, except the morbidly obese, who are too hard to lift, and the morbidly thin, because I like some meat on a woman’s bones. I don’t go for little girls. I like them at least twenty, well grown into their shape.  In roughly eighteen years of chasing sex, which tells you my approximate age, I’ve been attracted to women as young as eighteen—and I always ask for I.D. if they’re borderline—and as old as eighty-two, that being this Asian woman who comes into my bookstore. I’d bang her in a second if she let me. And she didn’t have Parkinson’s.

The ideal range for me in terms of beauty, and eligibility if ever I wanted to marry, would be early to mid-thirties. Women of that age are about to hit their peak of lushness and desire. If you want to make babies, that’s who you want.

But I’m not looking to make babies now, which is why I carry lubed condoms. The perfect age for me is early twenties. She’s of legal age. She likes to drink and appreciates free ones, lots of them. If she has any looks, she has them now. Not as good as ten years from now if she’s a true beauty, but good enough.

And because she is likeliest to walk drunk down a dark city sidewalk with headphones on, unaware of her surroundings. 

Like the one I’m following now.


Howard Shrier’s books include the Jonah Geller novels Buffalo Jump (2009 Arthur Ellis Award, Best First Novel), High Chicago (2010 Arthur, Best Novel) and Boston Cream (2012); and one e-book, the 2011 standalone thriller Lostport. His next Geller novel, Miss Montreal, is due out in 2013. Please visit howardshrier.com.

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