A Thin Dark Line

Name: Ryan Smack

Age: 28

Occupation: Chef

Neighborhood: Point Loma

Where Interviewed: Borders Books In Mission Valley

What book are you currently reading?

"A Thin Dark Line by Tami Hoag. I'm on page 191 out of 500. It's good so far."

Tell me about the book.

"It's set in Louisiana, and it's about a female cop named Annie who is looking for a serial killer. They think they've caught the guy, but another cop planted evidence, so the guy got away. I love the swamp life and the critters they talk about -- anything can happen. Someone played a prank on Annie and threw a snake in her Jeep. It was just a king snake, but she thought it was a cottonmouth. That can't really happen anywhere else."

What do you make of the plot?

"It's believable, and it's addictive. I can't put it down."

Who are your favorite characters?

"Right now, it's the cop that got in trouble. They think he planted evidence on the suspected killer. He took the law into his own hands and went and roughed up the guy that everybody thinks is the killer."

Tell me about the style and language.

"I think Tami Hoag is a good writer; her stuff is easy-reading. It's not a snooty book with big words that are hard to read. She goes back every once in a while and repeats something, to make sure you didn't forget it."

Any favorite passages?

"'I didn't do it,' and 'The gumbo is good.'"

Compare this with other books you've read.

"So far, it's up there. I like another author named Robert Crace -- he's a funny writer who writes detective novels. I don't care if the main character is male or female, as long as they're built well and have a large part in the story. A lot of writers will have so many characters that you barely get to know the main character, and it's hard to follow that way."

What book was most life-changing for you?

"Nothing, really."

Do you read as an escape?

"Yeah -- try to forget about my problems and read about somebody else's. And it's brainy -- it keeps your brain going. You watch TV, you just zone out and fall asleep. Reading a book is more interactive, I think."

Who are your favorite authors?

"I like Dean Koontz and Stephen King -- King is my favorite. He doesn't just write horror books. My favorite of his is The Green Mile, which is out of the norm for him. It's not scary; it's supernatural. It's about a guy with a special gift that allows him to heal people. If an writer can switch out of one mode into another, do something different, then that's a pretty good writer."

What magazines or newspapers do you read? How many articles do you read to the end?

"I read the Union-Tribune, the Denver Post, and the Daily Aztec. I read about 70 percent of the articles to the end."

Do you talk to your friends about reading?

"Some of them got me hooked on Robert Crace. We pass books back and forth, mainly detective thrillers and mysteries. Our conversations are short -- just what we liked and disliked."

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