By Tina Jordan
Updated October 28, 2008 at 09:54 PM EDT

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but there’s no suchrule regarding opening lines. Check out the initial sentences of threerecent releases, then vote which one starts out least promisingly.

* Harris Goddard’s life ran out on an otherwise ordinary afternoon in the middle of May, on the very day it seemed the rest of the planet was pulsating with life. An unexpected warm front had blown towards the coast overnight, pushing out the last remains of the long, wet Connecticut winter and nudging the buds into a frantic, hurried bloom. —from Kissing Games of the World, by Sandi Kahn Shelton

* Buffalo, New York probably turns out more priests and nuns than any other city, except perhaps Rome. Not just because there’s a large Catholic population to begin with, but because big blizzards can make you a believer. —from Buffalo Gal: A Memoir, by Laura Pedersen

* Arthur Fordyce had never done a criminal thing in his life, nor had the idea of doing anything unlawful ever seriously occurred to him. The wallet that lay beside his chair was not only full; it was literally stuffed. It lay on the floor by his feet where it had fallen. His action was as purely automatic as an action can be. He let his Racing Form slip form his lap and cover the billfold. Then he sat very still, his heart pounding. —from The Collected Short Stories of Louis L’Amour