Does your book club read mysteries, or do you stick to “literary” fiction and classics? I’ve compiled this list of great book club mysteries (I’ve read them all!) because I think my favorite genre offers plenty of opportunity for stimulating discussions. Sure, there are mysteries we read just for fun, but these morally complex book club mysteries tackle serious social and ethical problems. They also feature fully developed characters, and plots that will keep you turning the pages. Now, no one in your book club will complain, “I couldn’t get through this one!”
Have you ever invited an author to participate in your book club’s discussion of his or her book? Many authors welcome this opportunity to meet readers and answer their questions. Authors can attend either face-to-face or virtually via Skype or Facetime. So be sure to check the author’s website for book discussion questions and contact information. Don’t be shy–the author will be flattered!
The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne
This is the story of one child who kills another and the lawyer who defends the killer. The novel leaves readers with plenty to think about: the bond between biological parents and children, the role that other loving adults play in helping kids thrive, the failures of the criminal justice system, and most of all the responsibilities we each have to one another to avoid being the guilty ones. Get discussion questions here.
Treasure of Darkness by S.W. Hubbard
Have you ever known a hoarder? Have you ever struggled to help a friend or family member with mental illness? How do you feel about hard-working immigrants who may have entered our county illegally? This mystery tackles some thorny social issues as the estate sale organizer protagonist uncovers layers of mystery amid the trash and treasure in a hoarder’s house. Get discussion questions here and invite the author to your group here.
The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood
This is another book about children accused of crimes, and the long reach of publicity that makes it hard for them to ever escape their past. Two girls convicted of killing a child spend a decade separated in the juvenile justice system. Once they are released,they go one to live very different lives. Finally, fate intervenes when a series of murders sets up a confrontation between these two women who should never have met again.Contact the author at http://www.alexmarwood.com/
I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh
A young mother lets go of her son’s hand for a moment and he is killed by a hit-and-run driver. This mystery tackles survivor’s guilt, domestic abuse, and personal responsibility. There’s is a great twist which bears discussing, and the portrayal of the killer’s thought process is particularly perceptive and chilling. Find discussion question here.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
An atmospheric tale set in rural Mississippi, this mystery explores race and class issues as it explores a murder in the past and one in the present. It also grapples with what it means to be bookish in a community that doesn’t value intellectual pursuits. Find discussion questions here.
The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney
This 2016 Edgar Award winner is all about the six degrees of separation that link us all, and the sudden flashes of insight that bring the past into focus. There are two intersecting mysteries: a horrific shooting in a movie theatre and a tragic disappearance from a state fair. Both involve the carefree recklessness of teenagers and the ability of people to survive tragedy without ever fully recovering. Contact the author at: www.louberney.com