Death in the Family and The Dead Season both make great book club selections.
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-Death in the Family is a contemporary take on classic detective fiction. What elements of the story do you feel are most representative of the Agatha Christie-style mysteries of old?
-How do you think the setting of this book contributed to the mystery? How does moving to the Thousand Islands influence Senior Investigator Shana Merchant as an individual? As a detective?
-Shana arrives in the Thousand Islands knowing only her fiancé Carson, but she quickly forms a relationship with Sheriff McIntyre, whereas she’s more reluctant to open up to Tim. Why do you think she feels more comfortable with Mac? What makes her ultimately decide to confess her past to Tim?
-How does Shana’s abduction and PTSD impact her ability to do her job? At one point, she’s ready to give up. What makes her able to steel herself and carry on?
-The Sinclair Family and their guests are largely a dysfunctional bunch. Do you perceive them all as villains? Did any of the suspects in this story have redeeming qualities that made you empathize with them?
-Did you guess the ending of this mystery? At what point did you start to suspect you knew the outcome? Looking back, can you spot the clues that were planted along the way?
-In The Dead Season, Shana Merchant finds herself returning to her hometown of Swanton, VT to unofficially investigate her uncle's death. Discuss why Shana has been determined to stay away for so long, and the push and pull she feels between her old life and her new home in the Thousand Islands.
-Memory plays a large role in this novel. In order to decode Bram's clues, Shana must probe her childhood memories. Considering what she went through during her abduction, do you think she can truly trust her memory of past events? Have you ever misremembered a key event from your own past?
-In this book, you meet Shana's extended family and learn about her personal history. In what ways did her family shape her character, and what impact do family members like Felicia and Crissy have on her now?
-Sheriff Maureen McIntyre ("Mac"), who was introduced in Death in the Family, features more prominently in this story. Discuss the role she plays in Shana's life, and why Shana might feel so connected to her.
-There are multiple twists in this story. Which one was your favorite? How important was it to the plot and to building suspense?
-How does Shana's character evolve in this second book of the Shana Merchant series? Do you think she would be ready, both professionally and emotionally, to take on Blake Bram again?
-Predating the 19th century, when Charles Dickens used them in his hugely popular serialized novels, cliffhanger endings have long been a staple in fiction. How do you feel about this narrative tool and the ending of The Dead Season?
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