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What is the favorite book you remember as a child?
When I was in early elementary school, we went to the library as a class once per week. We had to check out books from an age-appropriate section of the library and had a borrowing limit of 2. I always checked out one dinosaur book and one Dr. Seuss book. The one Dr. Seuss book I best remember from those days was "On Beyond Zebra." I was also quite fond of "Bartholomew and the Oobleck." As a father and grandfather, I've read both of those books, and many others, to my young descendants. Once upon a time, my Kathleen and I, working as a team, could recite the whole of "I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew" from memory.
What is your favorite book today?
That's a toughie. My all-time favorite author is Ray Bradbury. I think my favorite of his works is "The Martian Chronicles." I re-read it a few years ago on its 50th anniversary, and I was amazed at how well it held up in spite of being so completely off-base in terms of science. Because, you see, he wasn't writing about Mars or Martians or even rocket ships. He was writing about human beings. And he did it brilliantly.
Tell us about your current book in 10 words.
The forecast: record cold. The crimes: colder still. (That's only eight words. Does that count??)
E-Reader or print? and why?
Print. I grew up reading print books, and for me reading is as much a tactile experience as an intellectual one. In my day job, I'm a software developer. I spend my days on a computer, and in researching technical subjects I use the web, so you might think I'd naturally gravitate to e-books. But not really. I find that I don't always read electronic documents as carefully as I would a print document. (Research has shown that's true of people generally.) I've also suffered some eyestrain when reading from a screen for long periods of time, although my new glasses have mostly resolved that. That said, I have been reading novels by indie authors in ebook form lately in order to review them. It's cheaper that way, for the author if giving away review copies and for the reviewer if payment is required.
One book at a time or multiples?
I used to one-at-at-a-time it, but these days I sometimes have two books in progress. I'm not an incredibly fast reader, though, so that doesn't mean I finish anything more quickly. If anything, it slows me down a bit.
Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)
Judith, meet Kathleen, my wife, editor, co-author for "Ice on the Bay," and former circulation and reference librarian. Do you really think I dare even ponder the remotest possibility of dog-earing a book page? Anyway, we have a fun collection of bookmarks, mostly cheap old things that are somewhat tattered, but fun anyway. I have to admit to one terrible transgression, though: long ago, I inadvertently mangled one of Kathleen's favorite bookmarks. It featured a long-nosed witch flying on her broom with a book hanging across her nose. The caption read, "So who needs a bookmark?"
Favorite book you've read this year?
I haven't had the chance to read many books this year, since it's only the beginning of February as I answer this. But let me plug one that I finished just last week: "The Key of All Unknown" by K. A. Hitchens. This book blew me away. It's a first-person narrative told from the perspective of a brilliant British stem cell researcher who finds herself in a persistent vegetative state, unable to communicate with doctors, nurses, and family members but aware of her surroundings and able to reflect upon her life and recent events. Did she try to kill herself? Did someone try to murder her? If it was a murder attempt, will her would-be killer appear at her bedside and finish the job? Underneath the plot runs social commentary on a number of hot-button issues, all capped by an ending that (I predict) will either move you deeply or anger you, depending on your point of view. Either way, I highly recommend this book.
Re-reader or not?
It depends. Usually not, but I have made exceptions, principally Ray Bradbury, a fun series of science fiction/humor stories by Keith Laumer about career diplomat James Retief, and "The Lord of the Rings."
What would make you not finish a book?
It takes a lot to make me put down a book. But incompetent writing will do it. So will boredom. If the story doesn't go anywhere, that's usually it. I will make an exception for works I'm reviewing. In that case, I'll slog through anything so I can give an honest review or provide the author with constructive criticism. I do not stop reading simply because I encounter a viewpoint with which I don't agree. I think we need to at least try to understand different points of view and the people who hold them.
Keep books or give them away?
We tend to keep books for a long time, then weed our collection, then acquire more, then weed, etc. We're hoping to downsize our home in the coming year, so right now we're in a weeding phase. We usually take our discards to a used book store. And then pick up some more books using the store credit. So I'm not sure we actually downsize all that much, after all. Hmm.
A saintly young veterinary technician disappears on Christmas Eve, leaving behind only a broken window and smears of blood on his clinic's back steps. Two years later, his disappearance remains a mystery. A home in an exclusive area burns to the ground, mirroring fires ignited the previous year by an arsonist who now sits in prison. Is the new fire a copycat, or has the wrong man been convicted? A criminal with a long list of enemies is shot dead, and not even his friends are sorry. While temperatures plummet, cold cases collide with new crimes, and somewhere a killer with blood as icy as the waters of the Chesapeake Bay watches and waits.
Without bothering to thank Peller, Dibble ate half of his sandwich before asking, "What do you want?"
"Same as you. To know why your house was torched."
"Seems obvious to me. Sergeant Montufar said arsonists get their kicks from setting fires."
"Sometimes. Not always."
Dibble maintained focus on his food. Peller took a long pull on his soda and waited patiently for him to answer, but no answer was forthcoming, so he decided to shake things up a little. "You don't think it was random, Mr. Dibble."
Dibble looked up sharply.
"Tell me I'm wrong.”
"I . . . I don't know."
Peller settled his drink in the cup holder and gazed at the trees, stark in their winter slumber. "Sergeant Montufar told me a story. Last year, an arsonist torched three houses. We caught him and sent him to prison. A set of fingerprints lifted from a mailbox near the street gave him away. The investigator might not have thought to check for prints there, except one of the victims remembered receiving a juvenile sort of warning in her mailbox. At the time, she took it for a stupid teenage prank. Fortunately she remembered it, and told the investigator about it.”
Dibble, his mouth drawn into a tight line, looked out the windshield as though studying the woods, but Peller knew he was seeing a ghost from his past. "What's your point, Lieutenant?"
"Anything, even something that seems unconnected, even something that seems stupid, could be important. And to be perfectly frank, I think you know what it is. Why don't you tell me about it?"
Author website and blog: https://www.DaleELehman.com
The Fibonacci Murders: https://www.serpentcliff.com/B00O6F056O
rue Death: https://www.serpentcliff.com/content/true-death
Ice on the Bay: https://www.serpentcliff.com/content/ice-bay
Amazon buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Ice-Bay-Howard-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B078MMWSJX
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