After I began querying my crime novel, an incident somewhat similar to an incident in the book, and mentioned in the query, happened in real life - and appeared in the news. How should I handle future queries?
I'd appreciate any advice you can give me.
Violence is such a part of our lives (to my deep and abiding sorrow, and yours too I bet) that you can't NOT write about it these days.
If you're worried about appearing to exploit a tragedy, you might consider a line at the close of the query that says "Events have overtaken my book and what was fiction now looks like the news, to my very deep sorrow."
There are so many towns now that have some sort of recent violence that even if you tried to change the name or location, you have no way of making sure that events didn't catch up with you again.
My client Dana Haynes and I used to laugh very ruefully that he should work for the CIA cause he was so good at writing about things before they actually happened.
One of the reasons we read crime novels is to help us deal with the chaos of real life violence. Novels where justice prevails and the bad guyz get their comeuppance are solace. Think of your novel as something that will provide respite from fear and worry, and you won't be worried about seeming exploitative.