Two Voices by Kenneth Hursh
Spasmodic dysphonia is Janet Campbell’s defense to first degree murder. The DA’s case relies on motive and the theory Janet does not have a real disease. Spasmodic dysphonia is a real disease, but sometimes it goes in remission, like during a murder trial.
Two Voices is a legal thriller about a young woman who cannot speak. Vocal chord paralysis has left Janet destitute and hopeless, until she hits a big jackpot at the local Indian casino. But the money is stolen, and Janet is accused of killing her ex-husband, whom she thinks orchestrated the robbery.
If Janet really cannot speak, she could not have been the person arguing with her ex-husband the night he was killed. Her lawyer believes her and is determined to win Janet’s acquittal from a politically motivated prosecution. So when Janet regains her voice during the trial, she can’t tell anyone, even though having her voice back is her dream come true. Remaining silent is driving Janet crazy. She has to tell someone, and the decision will either be her ruin her salvation.
The Book Doctors: This book has such a cool hook. Spasmodic dysphonia. I’ve never even heard of that. And I like how you give us just enough time to wonder what the heck it is before you define it for us. It’s also very cool how the whole case hinges on whether she is fabricating this disease, on whether she can talk. And it’s great that she gets her voice back but then can’t talk. This kind of feels like a Hitchcock movie. And that’s high praise indeed. I would like to know more about Janet. What she looks like. What kind of relationship she had with her ex-husband. What she ultimately wants in life, besides getting her voice back and recovering her millions and not being found guilty of murder. Those are all immediate things that we’re rooting for. But it would also be great to have more information about what she wants as we go higher up the Pyramid of Desire, from basic survival to the personal actualization. I also feel like your description of the murder and robbery is very flat. You have to show us in your pitch that you’re capable of describing action in a way that chills us and thrills us and sends a shiver down our spines. I don’t think your title is quite there yet. Two Voices: it doesn’t seem as exciting as your story. Dysphonia could be a really cool title! I guess it’s kind of troubling that there are basically no other people in this pitch besides Janet. Her lawyer is briefly mentioned, as is her dead husband, but doesn’t she have any relationships with other human beings? I do think if this book is executed correctly, there is an audience waiting for it out there.