Now that GHOST IN THE INFERNO has been out for a few weeks, I’ve already had people ask what GHOST IN THE SEAL will be about.
Well. How to answer that question without spoilers?
Perhaps a misadventure from my past will serve as answer.
A long time ago, when I was a kid, I delivered newspapers. For those of you who are under a certain age, “newspapers” were how we got our news before the Internet. Every morning, the paperboy would deliver a “paper” containing articles and advertisements to your door. (We also had these things called “rotary phones”, but that’s enough archaic tech for one day.)
As you might expect, the natural enemies of the paperboys were the dogs. I had a lot of nasty dogs on my paper route. The worst was a huge, sleek, black dog that I’m sure was part wolf. If it had auditioned for the titular role in THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, the director would have rejected the dog as implausibly vicious-looking. That thing hated me, and it lived in a house with a big plate-glass window in the living room. Every morning when I got off my bike and went up the front walk, it would throw itself against that plate glass window, barking and snarling and clawing at the glass. Fortunately, the front door had a mail slot, and I could get the paper inside easily enough, though I had to do it quickly, since the dog would try to get its jaws through the mail slot to bite.
Anyway, one morning I came up to that house and stopped.
The front door was standing wide open. I thought of the black dog right away, but there wasn’t any sign of it, and the house was quiet. I didn’t know why the door was open, but closing it would have been a bad idea, since for all I knew the owner of the house had gone out for a cigarette. Since the customers tended to complain about absolutely everything, I would certainly hear about it if I got a customer locked out of his house. So I left the paper on the front step and departed on my bike, keeping an eye out for the dog.
No sign of the dog. I kept going for a few blocks. Still no sign of the dog. It was so loud that I figured I would hear it coming.
One of the houses on my route was at the end of a gravel road with thick woods on either side. The house was built on a hill, with the stairs descending down the forested slope to the front door. I got off my bike, put the paper in the front door, and climbed back up the stairs. As I walked back to my bike, I noticed my shoe was untied, and I turned around to tie it against the driveway curb.
The black dog was about twenty feet behind me.
It had been creeping up behind me in absolute silence.
For a moment we just stared at each other.
Then the dog snarled without sound and came at me.
I was in much worse shape as a kid than I am now, but I ran as if the hounds of hell (for all I knew, one of them was) were on my tail. I got on my bike and started pedaling as fast as I could, and that black dog was right behind me. Like, its nose was a few inches from the back wheel, and I was sure it would knock me off my bike. I can still remember that there hadn’t been time to get the kickstand up, and I was really hoping that it didn’t catch on a bump in the gravel road and send me sprawling.
Fortunately, by the grace of God and not my cardiovascular prowess I was able to outrun it, and the dog veered off and vanished back into the trees.
I learned an important lesson that day. A barking dog can be dangerous. But the dog that has dispensed with barking, that is sneaking up behind you in utter silence, that dog is way more dangerous.
And that is what GHOST IN THE SEAL is going to be about.