They say the opening sentence is the most important one you can write, and it's my usual test of whether I want to read a book or not. So here's an assortment from the current To Read pile; if I meditate on them as I type them out, I might be able to whittle it down a bit.
* Stephen Fry (yes, that Stephen Fry), The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within:
'I have a dark and dreadful secret.'
* Peter Rose, A Case of Knives:
* Ian McEwen, Saturday:
'Some hours before dawn Henry Perowne, a neurosurgeon, wakes to find himself already in motion, pushing back the covers from a sitting position, and then rising to his feet.'
* Linda Fairstein, Death Dance:
'"You think we've got a case?" Mercer Waller asked me.'
* Eric Hobsbawm, On History
'The least philosophically minded historians can hardly avoid general reflections about their subject.'
* Andrew Taylor, The Suffocating Night:
'Timing is all, Cameron Rowse used to say.'
* Helen MacDonald, Human Remains: Episodes in human dissection
'Here we sit, in the boiler room of an abandoned brewery in London's East End.'
And the winner is John Banville, for the first sentence of The Sea:
'They departed, the gods, on the day of the strange tide.'