Does the MC of a query have to be the MC of a book? The direction my query is heading, I’m learning to build the book around the query, is maybe fifth on the list of characters. The query is going that way because his story is the easiest to clarify in 250 words.
The query MC is in the beginning, middle and end of the book so I could not say I was misleading anyone. The reason I say that is that the story morphs from a floating body into much more and the query MC bypasses some of the leads the cops have to investigate.
I'm not sure why you think you have to "clarify a story" in the query. You don't. You have to tell me what choice the main character faces and what's at stake for him/her with that choice. By default, that means the main character of the book, not the fifth guy on the cast of characters.
What you're proposing here is to query a Harry Potter novel by talking about Ron Weasley.
Let's take this to the next step: I'm reading the query and I am expecting a book about Ron Weasley. All of a sudden, here's this Harry Potter guy with all the page time. I'm confused. Confused is NOT what you want your reader to be, whether it's agent or book buyer or anyone in between.
The first rule of queries is to entice the agent to read on. The second is to tell what the book is about and by definition that's the main character.
I had a very similar situation in a recent query. It was a terrific query, one of the best I've ever seen, but the pages opened with a character who was clearly not the protagonist or the antagonist.
Here's my reply to the query:
This is probably one of the best query letters I've ever gotten.
But the pages start with a person I thought was a secondary
character, and you've really buried the hook deep in that fifth paragraph.
And it's a pretty subtle hook too.
My taste runs to starting the book where the story begins.
From the query it sounds like the story starts when (X happens.)
Of course, other agents may have different opinions and finding
out what those are before revising is a smart strategy.
IF you do think I'm right, I'll be glad to hear from you again.
And that's a GREAT query. If you don't get a lot of positive
replies, I'll eat my hat.