I love book clubs of all sizes. I’ve been a proud member of the Mount Battie Book Club for more than a decade, and enjoy visiting clubs in other places whenever she can. Suggest one of my mysteries to your book club, and, if my schedule permits, I’ll attend the discussion. At the very least I’ll post a photo of you and your friends reading the book here on my website.
I’ve written some discussion questions for book clubs, or anyone who wants to delve deeper into the mysteries.
A House to Die For Questions
1. The surgeon Emerson Phipps is introduced in the prologue. What kind of a person do you think he is? Does the fact that he is a brilliant doctor and dedicated volunteer in Haiti justify his arrogance?
2. Do you think Darby had a choice about going back to Hurricane Harbor? What would you have done in her place? Have you ever been faced with a situation where you really didn’t have any options?
3. Soames Pemberton’s attack on Darby is frightening in its physicality, but in what way does he also play with her mind? Why do you think Tina advises Darby to forget about the incident and stay away from Soames?
4. In what way does the planning board meeting and Mark’s subsequent revealing of Jane Farr’s second folder represent a turning point in the story?
5. Peyton Mayerson becomes increasingly desperate as the story unfolds. List some of the actions that show she is willing to do anything to obtain Fairview.
6. How would you describe Chief Dupont’s reaction to seeing Darby again? In what ways does their relationship change throughout the book?
7. How does Lucy’s ordeal as a teenager affect her future choices? Did she have other options? What should she do now as an adult?
8. The theme of the past intruding on the present appears several times throughout the book with several characters. In what different ways do Darby, Lucy, Mark, and Laura deal with their painful pasts? Do any of the characters “make peace” with their demons?
9. Miles appears somewhat out of the blue and quickly becomes an important character. What were your reactions to his arrival on Hurricane Harbor?
10. How is the theme of “us versus them” played out in A House to Die For? Is Darby truly one of the islanders? How does her physical appearance affect how she is treated?
11. Were there any clues as to Emilio Landi’s real identity? How about Laura Gefferelli?
12. There are several surprises at the end of the book, even after the dramatic battle of Darby and Linda at sea. Did you feel that all of the loose ends were tied up, or are there still some unanswered questions for Darby to explore in future mysteries?
Killer Listing Questions
1. Casa Cameron is an immense estate; Helen Near’s bungalow is historic and tiny. In what way do the homes in Killer Listing reinforce the lives of the people living in them?
2. What is your impression of Jack Cameron? In what ways does he evolve throughout the book? Do you think his shark encounter is plausible?
3. What mistakes does Darby make in dealing with Jack Cameron at Kyle’s condo? Do her actions reveal something about Darby’s character that might put her in repeated danger?
4. Chellie Howe largely ignores her husband’s infidelity because she admires his powerful persona. In what ways does she resemble other high-profile wives in similar situations? What would you do in her position?
5. From mojitos to grouper sandwiches, food plays an important role in Killer Listing. How do descriptions of food and drink strengthen a novel?
6. Sassa Jorgensen foreshadows Kyle’s death and later gives Darby valuable clues regarding her client. Is she a reliable source of information for Darby? Why or why not?
7. Kyle, Chellie, Alexandra and Jack share a history going back to their days at Florida State University. What things seem to have been put in motion in their youth?
8. How does Darby’s exceptional palate memory come into play in this story? Do you think it is a special talent she could exploit if necessary?
9. Clyde Hensley’s abandonment of his parasailing customers and the murder of a real estate agent at an open house are both based on a true incidences. What other parts of Killer Listing are “ripped from the headlines”?
10. Besides Darby, there are several strong female characters in Killer Listing, among them, Kelly McGee, Helen Near, and Carlotta Vega. Who do you admire, and why?
11. What painful questions does Hideki Kobayashi raise for Darby? Are any of them answered by the end of the book? What would be your next step if you were Darby Farr?
12. Is Peter Janssen a sympathetic character? Is the economic downturn to blame for his madness? Have you heard of other instances in which someone seemingly harmless has snapped?