I think Linda nailed it when she said I didn't seem to have my regular confidence. She saw it before I did.
I've been trying to think why.
I think I made a couple of strategic errors.
1.) This is the first book I've written without some kind of fantastical element. Even the two thrillers I wrote before this had Apocalyptic aspects. This book is written at street level. This may not be so much a strategic error, because I wanted to write a normal thriller--but why do I need to write a normal thriller? I could have added the big Apocalyptic thing without resorting to the supernatural.
2.) The decision to make it first person. This limits my options, unless I play with the formula. (Keep the 1st person protagonist but add 3rd person VP's). I decided to keep it 1st person all the way through except for the first chapter. I have only one viewpoint character--which constrains what I can write about. This means I barely had enough paint to cover the walls. Remains to be seen whether I do have enough paint. I can probably expand the book in rewriting, at least I hope so.
I've only written one book and a couple of novellas in 1st person before. They got such a good reaction, I decided to do it again. Now I'm wondering if I shouldn't have stuck to what I know best.
The result is that I have Hart by himself in the woods for like 20 chapters and I'm not sure how interesting that is. It will depend on my author's voice being strong enough. I don't do a lot of interior dialogue and that's a problem if I'm not going to have a lot of exterior dialogue. (Linda points out that I do have a lot of interaction with the bad guys, just not verbal.)
When I brought in Nicole 2/3rs of the way through the book, it was like a breath of fresh air.
Someone to talk to! Yea!
Looking back, I'm wondering if there aren't spots were I could have some dialogue. For instance, instead of finding the hiker dead, have them meet on the trail, have a conversation, and then have the guy run away. We hear a shot, everything plays out.
Jordan takes a shot at him, he hides, they carry on a taunting conversation, that kind of thing. Anything I can do to enliven those chapters.
I'm looking forward to the next 3 or 4 chapters with Nicole. I did a little research on dog tracking, and it gave me a bunch of ideas. I don't know why I don't research more--mostly because I'm not sure what to research until I've written the book. Then I can focus on the type of research I need.
Anyway, I think I pulled it off--barely.
The other thing about this book that is different is that instead of the second draft just fixing up what I've written, a good 25% of the book is going to need to be changed. That will be a challenge, not to ruin what I've already written.
It's a different kind of book than I'm used to--that's why I'm uncertain. But like my previous books, I can only learn by doing. I'm given myself the job of writing 3 thrillers in a row, with Hart Davis as the hero. If none of them catch on, it's back to the drawing board.