A Thrilling Reading Scene

A recent question on a panel: what do your characters read?

My answer: Not much.

I’m what you might call a heavy reader—3 book clubs and always a Kindle full of books. I’m not sure why no one in my gallery of characters is even a light reader. They confine themselves to literature that’s pertinent to their jobs or interests, almost never including fiction or reading for relaxation. Nor do they ever discuss books, a favorite pastime of mine.

Here’s the lineup and their reading habits:

• Dr. Gloria Lamerino, retired physicist, reads Physics Today, Scientific American, and the New Yorker cartoons. That’s it.

• Gerry Porter, retired English teacher and miniaturist, often quotes Shakespeare, but not once in nine books has she picked up a volume and had a quiet read. She does occasionally leaf through a miniatures or crafts magazine.

• Professor Sophie Knowles, college math teacher, reads and contributes to mathematics journals and puzzle magazines. No fiction.

Finally, with my 4th series, I might have a reader.

• Cassie Miller (DEATH TAKES PRIORITY debuted November 2015), postmaster in a small Massachusetts town, reads crime fiction. Though I don’t give specific titles, I do have Cassie commenting on certain plot devices, and actually trying to read crime novels or watch crime dramas before bedtime. Granted she’s quickly distracted and turns to focusing on “the case” at hand.

One reason my amateur sleuths don’t read: they’re very busy people! In general, they solve a murder case in a week or so, sometimes sooner. That’s pretty quick, considering real cops sometimes take months, often years. Also, reading is very passive, as opposed to, say, a car chase, a shoot-out, or even a quiet stalking scene. It’s hard to make a reading scene exciting.

She stretched out on the couch, put on her reading glasses, picked up a book, found the bookmark, opened the book,  . . .

See what I mean?

My book on TV – A story I never tire of telling!

Latest edition for Kindle

A few years ago, Hallmark produced a TV movie based on Citizen Jane, a true crime book by Bay Area screenwriter James Dalessandro. In one scene, Jane’s aunt is pictured sitting comfortably, reading. Her book: my first, The Hydrogen Murder! She holds it up, the cover plain as day.

And then an intruder breaks in and murders her!

The book falls out of her hands and onto the floor, the original cover side up, immortalized as a part of the crime scene.

So, although my characters aren’t reading, someone is reading my characters!


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2 Responses to “A Thrilling Reading Scene”

  1. Nancy Roessner says:

    I survived reading the Hydrogen Murder without becoming a statistic! I really like your new series, too.

  2. Mark says:

    One of my favorite characters, Bertie Wooster, in the various Jeeves books by PG Wodehouse, often laid down to read a mystery, and Jeeves (his valet) was well-read, but often would read Spinoza.

    Never knew that about The Hydrogen Murder! I’ll be sure to check that the doors are locked next time I pick up one of your spine tinglers.