How to write a thriller: Great beginnings

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, I’ve been working on a new thriller. But before penning a single word of prose, I’ve had to lay the foundation for my new story, much like a brick-layer lays the foundation for a new house. All kinds of groundwork has to be laid, such as decisions about:

* Which suspense category the story belongs in

* POV issues

* Character goals and motivation

Now that all of that’s done (mostly), comes the hard part: Writing Chapter One, Page One.

Which brings me to today’s topic: Great Beginnings.

I want my thriller to have a great beginning. I want it to have the best dad-blamed beginning you have ever read in a thriller, EVER.

So I’m reaching WAY back to a sort-of thriller, Rebecca, and its simple but great first line:

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

When I was in the eighth grade, that story made a huge impression on me. I was spellbound by the tale of its protagonist, who is haunted by the ghost of her husband’s dead wife. I even named one of my daughters Rebecca, and have to wonder if it didn’t have something to do with my love for that book.

Here’s a link to the best 100 opening lines of novels, as chosen by the editors of American Book Review.

But those are mostly first lines of…ahem, “literary” novels. (For an explanation, see John’s recent post about “Literary snobs and commercial sellouts”.) Right now, I want to talk about the first lines of thriller novels.

You know ’em when you read ’em. They’re the ones that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck on page one and you don’t go to sleep until THE END.

So I’m wondering…what is the BEST grab-you-by-the-throat opening line (and para) you ever read in a suspense book? And what made it so good for you?