Hello Nandan, and well done on posting your chapter here. It takes some courage to do so, and I hope you'll take my initial thoughts below in the spirit they're intended. Of course, as always, they're only my thoughts, too, and others may have different views!
First of all, I think your writing has a lovely tone. The style is rather 'old-fashioned' (in a good way) and it feels as if the reader is sitting in a comfortable armchair in a cozy club somewhere with a fellow-member about to entertain the room with an amazing tall story! It's a style that used to be in vogue a while ago, and which I like a lot.
You write smoothly and well, and your characters are vivid and well-drawn, too. They stay just the right side of charicature, while still being 'larger than life', and the little physical oddities and quirks you give them really bring them to life.
That said, as a reader, I have to be honest and say that I struggled to finish this chapter. I did get to the end, but probably wouldn't have read further. The main reason for this is that I was never sure whose story I was supposed to be following. Part of that was the 'blanks' instead of names, which made things a little harder, but the issue for me was mainly one of structure and point of view.
The chapter felt like a sequential series of 'beginnings', all of them promising, but all of them being interrupted just as they're starting to go somewhere by another, seemingly unrelated, story starting. It may be that all these different stories connect eventually, and the overall story makes sense, but this way of starting the book is very risky, since the reader (or at least this reader) was left more confused than 'hooked'.
I, myself, have fallen into this trap in the past, so believe me, I know how hard it is to find the right 'start' for a book... I'm still searching!
You start with our un-named narrator telling us about her childhood and her relationship with her eccentric uncle. So far so good. OK, it's back-story, but it's interesting and funny, and has a lovely, slightly grotesque 'Lemony Snicket' feel to it.
But then, just as we're starting to sink into this childhood but before anything happens that seems pertinent to any plot, we're suddenly fast-forwarded into the 'recent future': 'It was a couple of months ago, on a bright, hot April morning that I received a letter from the family lawyer based in London.' This feels like another (rather good) beginning... but to a different story.
There are a few comic interludes with the scented air conditioning and the smoker and the rather Dickensian solicitor, but nothing really happens for a while other tha exposition. You're telling us about stuff but not showing us anything happening. We're eight pages in before the ghost of a possible plot is revealed, with the disappearance of the narrator's uncle seven years before. But even then, we immediately swerve into an anecdote from the solicitor about his life which seems to have no bearing on the main story.
We follow the narrator to her uncle's flat, the mysterious note is revealed (good), another month apparently passes while the narrator does things she doesn't really tell us about, and then, on page ten: 'This is the story of my uncle, the late ____, and how he arrived at the state that earned him that very prefix...'
Another beginning. To another story. A story not about our narrator but about her uncle.
'The morning of the ninth of August, 2003, was not a particularly remarkable one for the great, big, bustling city that was London. It certainly wasn’t a remarkable one for ____. '
I wonder if this might actually be the beginning of your book!
It's not long, though, before we're sidetracked again into another story, this time reported by Benjamin Windows: '“Let me start from the beginning. My name is Windows. Benjamin Windows. I work at a paint factory in Chelsea; have for the past six years..."'
Yet another beginning! To what feels at this point like yet another person's story. As I said earlier, by this time I was really confused as to whose story I was supposed to be reading. The 'russian doll' structure of story within story within story within story makes it so difficult to decide who the story is about — is it our narrator, her uncle, or Benjamin Windows?
The scene in which Windows relates his story about the flying car is well told, intriguing and the dialogue is good. This scene actually drew me back into the story. It's good writing. Finally, I was reading what felt like a compelling and forward-moving story. Honestly, I found myself wondering why I'd had to read the preceding dozen pages of the 'set up' of the narrator's childhood, the uncle's death and the mysterious letter to get to it.
And then, story told, we're back to the seemingly unconnected scene at '____'s' newspaper office. And I drifted again. It's well-written, as before, but it feels like another diversion from the story rather than a new stage in the narrative that builds on what's come before. I want to know more about the flying car, not the minutes of an editorial meeting. The important thing, of course, is the police report of Windows's disappearance, but we have to get through quite a lot of (seemingly) unrelated detail to get that information.
From here, the pace does escalate. The police interview, balconey scene, lawyer call and final abduction are all fine... but I think they suffer from the very slow and rather confusing build up.
So sorry if this is a bit disheartening. You write really well, and the premise is really intriguing. But I think what's currently taking twenty-four pages to tell could be done far more succinctly. Throw us right into the mystery without the several 'false starts' of reminiscence, lawyer meetings and mysterious notes. Or, if you feel the uncle's disappearance is crucial to set up his story, try and do it in a short prologue perhaps rather than the first half of your important first chapter.
As I said, I know what this will feel like to read, because I've been there myself. And it hurt! But after I'd processed the feedback my ongoing rewrites and some heavy editing and 'killing my darlings' have tightened and strengthened my own first chapter enormously.
On the other hand, feel free to dismiss the above thoughts as the ravings of a madman! It's your story, after all. And I'm just one reader, with personal opinions that are often wrong!
Take comfort from the fact that I think the writing itself is really good! It's the editing that might make it even better!