Philadelphia Street Scene,
Paul Martel ( 1879-1944)
They may blow up the street in front of my house.
Naturally, I am intensely interested. I haven't handled dynamite since I was twelve or so. The inspector who came by to check for pre-existing cracked windows and plaster appeared disconcerted by my feral interest and ill-concealed anticipation.
Since I'm not much for personal shock 'n awe, I have to wonder if my laconic attitude towards uncivilized situations -- which is reflected in my narrative "voice" and which my Lillie shares to some degree -- will likewise discomfit agents. Nice girls and all that.
I have just finished Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's Tiger ( the Seige of Seringapatam 1799) -- where, by synchronosity, a giant mine trap serves as a hidden horror awaiting the British assault.
One sees plainly why the series is so popular: the detail rings with authenticity and deviations from actual historical record are clearly covered in Cornwell's historical notes.
My only technical objection is based on personal taste and applies, mostly, to stories in third person.
I really dislike reading a helpless hero faced with an implacable, eternal and powerful enemy too early in a narrative (even though Cornwell does it in brilliant fashion with Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill.)
While high stakes create drama and suspense, I don't like to invest emotional attachment on a character who may not survive (which is why I'm one of those who always checks the last pages of a novel just to make sure.)
A writer risks reader withdrawal when using an impossible stituation too soon. The more hand-wringing realistic the situation for the hero, the more I defensively detach from him and his seemingly inescapable fate.
I don't like that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.