September 25, 2008:  FALLING OFF AIR by Catherine Sampson. 

October 23, 2008:  CALIFORNIA GIRL by T. Jefferson Parker. 

November 20, 2008:  ROSE by Martin Cruz Smith. 

January 22, 2009:  OUTSIDE VALENTINE by Liza Ward. 

February 26, 2009:  HIDDEN by Paul Jaskunas. 

March 26, 2009:  DEATH FROM THE WOODS by Brigitte Aubert.  

April 23, 2009:  MURDER NEVER FORGETS by Diana O’Hehir.   

May 28, 2009:  DISORDERED MINDS by Minette Walters. 

So the anxiety of picking the titles is now over for one more year.

Now I can start the anxiety of wondering if the group will enjoy the titles I picked. 

Each year in May I give my group a selection of potential crime and mystery books we could read.  The list is huge, maybe fifty or sixty books long.  Most of these books are crime and mystery titles that got starred reviews in Booklist or other review sources.  Most of them are not series titles, as I find reading series books a little problematic in an ongoing discussion like ours.

From the list the group highlights as many titles as they care to and then I total up their votes.

Then I pick the ones I want to lead a discussion on if they fit into a general theme.  This year’s theme came about because of one person’s comment that we read more books by men or about men than the group should considering they are all women.  

Some are award winners.  The Parker title won the Edgar in 2004 while the Aubert title won the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, thus proving that I have learned nothing from last year and failed to listen to the “no award winner” protest.  

All of this stress comes from the fact that I never read a title in advance of the discussion because I want to play along with the group.  I know this violates all the tenants of leading a book discussion but I can’t help it.  It is one of the ways the groups has stayed fresh for me for over fifteen years.  

I guess we all pick our own poison, so to speak. 



About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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