Get to Know the Centuries & Sleuths Mystery Discussion Group

Leader/Organizer: Augie Aleksy and John Cline

Years of operation: 1992 to Present

*      *      *

Tell us about your book group.

We’re a casual group that enjoys each other’s company, but we don’t always agree on the value of the mystery novel/author we’ve just read and are discussing. (The taste of the group is quite eclectic.) What’s interesting about the group is that we have such a long history, we can compare current books to books the group read a decade ago. Additionally, the group started by reading one author and one book (usually the author’s first novel, although that might not be their best). Now, we’ve read a couple books by the same author. In fact, we read Stieg Larsson’s first three books in three months!

How does your group make its reading selections?

Each group member puts a recommendation on a strip of paper that has their name on it. Then, that paper is put into a coffee can and the title is selected at random. Whenever someone recommends a title, their name has to be on the strip of paper. If the book is selected, the signer is required to lead the discussion. This is because in the past, someone might drop a recommendation in the coffee can, and when the book turned out to be unpopular, no one took responsibility for it.

Which book did your group collectively like the most this past year?

Art in the Blood, the first installment in the Sherlock Holmes Adventure series, by Bonnie MacBird. (Also, here is a complete list of the books we’ve read from 1992 to 2019. Every book marked with an asterisk indicates a best read of the year.)

Which is the most divisive book your group has read, and why?

I would say The Maltese Falcon; the expressions and attitudes used in the book, starting with the word “gunsel,” caused a bit of a stir. Not to mention, many of the noir mysteries of this time (the 1930s) were homophobic. Many other books caused controversy due to their victims (e.g. an animal, child, or mentally ill person, etc.); their graphic descriptions; and their covers. And while there have been criticisms of books, characters, covers, and more, it’s nothing I would consider divisive. It’s a well-read group and we’re tolerant of many things. Group members especially appreciate a well-written novel with character development.

What is your group most looking forward to reading this year?

This list will show you what we are looking forward to now; it includes everything we’re scheduled to read through June 2019.

What is the best piece of advice you’d give a group that is just getting started?         

I would say to get a group that’s made up of people who love to read. Most importantly, they should be open to listening to others’ views and they should like to share their enjoyment or disappointment with a novel with members of the group. There are readers out there who like what they like only and couldn’t care less what others think of their selections. This isn’t a good person for the group. You need people who want to learn and to be exposed to literature they may never have selected on their own.

Are you looking for new members?

Yes, and it should be clear from the start there are no dues. However, members and those who wish to participate in the discussion must buy their books from Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, as opposed to checking out library books, or purchasing used books or e-books. (After all, I am a bookseller.) If interested, please check out our schedule of upcoming mystery reads at



About the Author:

Briana Shemroske is Booklist's Marketing Associate. She graduated with a BA from Lake Forest College where she studied English Writing and Art History. In her free time she can be found eating cheeseburgers, frolicking with her schnoodle, Moritz, and feebly attempting to play board games. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Briana.

Post a Comment