From The Atlantic:
When I interviewed Stephen King for the By Heart series, he told me about some of his favorite opening lines in literature. Then, the author had an off-the-cuff idea. “You could go around and ask people about their favorite first lines,” he said. “I think you'll find that most of them, right away, establish the sense of voice we talked about. Why not do it? I'd love to know, like, Jonathan Franzen's favorite first line.” So I reached out to Franzen and 21 other writers. In honor of King's new novel Joyland and its nouveau-pulp publisher Hard Case Crime, there are a good number of crime writers featured in this list. Other writers I spoke to don't write crime fiction at all, preferring to focus on other brands of human mystery. Collected below, the opening lines they picked range widely in tone and execution–but in each, you can almost feel the reader's mind beginning to listen, hear the inward swing of some inviting door.
Megan Abbott (Dare Me, The End of Everything)
I first heard Personville called Poisonville by a red-haired mucker named Hickey Dewey in the Big Ship in Butte. –Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest
Charles Ardai (Editor, Hard Case Crime; author of Fifty-to-One)
The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of the Dancers. –Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye