Reading partners in crime

a-mystery-month-tag2For Booklist’s Mystery Month, I wanted to remind all the book group leaders out there of some invaluable resources when it’s time to choose a mystery for discussion.

First, our own Gary Warren Niebuhr, has written a guide just for this purpose. Read ‘Em Their Writes was published ingary 2006 and I’ve turned to it many times when my book groups tell me they want a mystery. My problem is getting the readers past the “whodunit and when did you know it” conversation and encouraging further chat about other points. Each entry comes with a brief author background, a plot summary, appeal points, and websites. If a readers’ guide is available, Niebuhr provides the link to it, but he also provides his own list of discussion questions.

I also like Read On…Crime Fiction by Barry Trott. This book is a collection of thematic reading lists and the lists I turn to most frequently are “Social Dis-eases: barry2Detectives With a Conscience” and “White Knights and Fixers: Solving Crimes and Righting Wrongs.” All the lists come with an explanation for how these titles fit the theme and in these intros, book group leaders will find themes to use in formulating discussion topics. The annotations will also help leaders judge if a book is going to work well with a particular group. These two lists in particular focus on story and character, two appeal elements my book groups enjoy talking about.

I keep two other little tomes handy for the blood-thirsty readers. Both were edited by Jim Huang of Crum Creek Press. The first is 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century and the second is They Died in Vain. Both jimhuangsmall volumes include long annotations contributed by booksellers across the United States and Canada. I use these to find hidden gems my voracious mystery readers may not have read yet.

If you’re clueless about which mystery to read and discuss next, let this crack team of literatectives solve your dilemma.



About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

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