"What could a book club discuss about your mystery?" The question came up at my launch party for my first Five-Ingredient Mystery, By Cook or by Crook. Afterwards, someone suggested I post book club discussion questions on my website. You can download and print a copy of the questions about all my books on the Book Club Topics page.
Questions that apply to most mysteries
1. Readers who enjoy mysteries appreciate plot twists. Which plot points or characters surprised you most? Which twists in the plot could you see coming?
2. Traditional murder mysteries include a number of characters who are suspects. In this mystery, which character did you think committed the crime? Did you figure out the culprit before the end?
3. The most important characters in a mystery are the sleuth, the victim, and the culprit. What impression did those characters make on you? Did their motivations and actions make sense?
4. The setting or the main character’s job / hobby is often a key element in the plot of a mystery. How does location or vocation play a role in this mystery?
5. Mysteries often contain subplots that relate to (or even converge with) the primary murder plot. Subplots may also illuminate characters, present red herrings, and provide comic relief. What subplots appear in this mystery and what is their function?
Questions specific to the Five-Ingredient Mysteries (can be modified to suit other mysteries)
6. In any mystery featuring an amateur sleuth, the question arises what would induce an ordinary person (not a law enforcement professional) to pursue a murderer. What prompts Val to do that? Can you imagine yourself trying to solve a murder and, if so, under what circumstances?
7. What traits or skills does a good detective have? Does Val possess any of them? What about Granddad? Does either have characteristics that make it hard for to uncover the truth about crimes and other people?
8. Discuss the relationship between Val and her grandfather. They both face the challenge of living with someone from a generation far removed from their own. What conflicts arise between them? Are they strictly generational in nature or do those conflicts have other sources? Would you find it difficult to live with a grandparent or grandchild?
9. Some critics and mystery writers, including Agatha Christie, dislike romantic subplots in mysteries. Do you agree or disagree with that view? Do you feel Val’s love interests enhance or detract from the story?
10. The characters in the Five-Ingredient Mysteries display a variety of attitudes towards food and cooking. For example, Val's best friend Bethany is a serial dieter, and Granddad doesn't bother with recipes that have more than five ingredients. What do their food quirks tell you about those characters? Do you know people whose approach to cooking and eating gives you insights into their obsessions, values, or fears?
This blog, like the books and stories I write, combines mysteries, food, trivia, and a bit of humor to leaven the grim subject of crime. Sometimes random subjects intrude here .