Keeping readers interested in a single character for twenty-three books is no small feat, but Sue Grafton has led mystery fans through the alphabet to great success. From A is for Alibi (1982) to this month’s W is for Wasted, Grafton keeps fans coming back with fresh takes on new themes, varied structure, and intriguing stories. None of that would matter without a well-developed main character, one we feel we know well but who can still surprise us. Between letter releases, review the fascinating world of Kinsey Millhone in G is for Grafton by Natalie Hevener Kaufman and Carol McGinnis Kay. Investigate for yourself Kinsey’s history, habits, dilemmas, and cases, and deduce how Grafton’s skill with characterization and subtle world-building contribute to a groundbreaking and beloved series.
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Tom Clancy’s high-speed page-turners star military-trained heroes battling larger-than-life enemies. International plots, terrorists, dangerous alliances, and weapons of mass destruction abound — but Clancy isn’t the only one to have conquered the military adventure genre.
Click here if you want action and tech-heavy fiction similar to Tom Clancy.
Winners of the 2013 RITA Awards, celebrating the best in romance, have been announced. Which love story will you choose?
Contemporary Single Title Romance: The Way Back Home by Barbara Freethy
Historical Romance: A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
Romantic Suspense: Scorched by Laura Griffin
Best First Book and Novel with Strong Romantic Elements: The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” Not so fast! Words can be weapons, especially in Lexicon by Max Barry. This is a world in which a secretive international syndicate of “poets” collects special words and uses them to control others. What does this have to do with a seemingly clueless man being kidnapped from an airport bathroom, a teenage grifter living on the street, or the horrifying event that first wiped out and then quarantined an entire Australian town? When the storylines converge, everything changes. Thrilling and thought-provoking, the scariest elements hit close to home, warning us of our vulnerability to manipulation. Try this high-octane dystopian fable, and you’ll find yourself entertained beyond words.
The winners of the 2013 Thriller Awards were announced this week, and readers who enjoy a pulse-pounding pace will want to experience the excitement for themselves!
Best Hardcover Novel: Spilled Blood by Brian Freeman
Best Paperback Original: Lake Country by Sean Doolittle
Best First Novel: The 500 by Matthew Quirk
Best Young Adult Novel: False Memory by Dan Krokos
SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.
Title: Defending Jacob
Author: William Landay
Page Count: 421
Genre: Legal Thriller
Tone: Suspenseful, Disturbing
1. Did you like Andy Barber as a character? What words would you use to describe him?
2. Do you think he looked at Jacob in a realistic light?
3. Do you think Laurie, Jacob’s mother, saw her son more clearly than her husband did?
4. What words would you use to describe Laurie?
5. What happened to Andy and Laurie’s relationship once Jacob was accused of murder?
6. The title of the book is Defending Jacob…was Jacob the main character? If not, who was?
7. Were there points of view that you wanted to hear more of? Is there any part of the story you wanted more of?
8. Do you think Jacob murdered Ben Rifkin?
9. Is Jacob a likeable boy?
10. What was Dr. Vogel’s opinion of Jacob?
11. What was Andy’s reaction to seeing Dr. Vogel vs. Laurie’s reaction?
12. Do you think that Andy and Laurie were good parents?
13. Do you think that Andy Barber should have been on the case since it involved the same school his son went to? Do you think there was a conflict of interest?
14. Why did it take so long to interview the kids at Ben’s school? Were the kids helpful to the authorities?
15. Jacob has two friends, Matt and Derek. How did each of them affect Jacob’s case? Did they both continue to be Jacob’s friend after the trial started?
16. Why does Andy search Jacob’s room for the knife instead of asking Jacob if he had one? What did Andy do with the knife? Do you think he was obstructing justice? Would you have done the same?
17. Later, Laurie does something with a different knife? What does she do and why? Would you have done the same?
18. How far should a parent go to protect their child? Did Jacob need their protecting?
19. It is learned that Jacob enjoys violent erotica. He wrote and posted an account very similar to Ben Rifkin’s murder on a violent erotic website. After learning this, could you still see Jacob in a neutral light? Why do you think he posted his story online?
20. What dark facts about Jacob does Derek reveal to Andy when Andy visits the boy’s home? Why doesn’t Andy know or have noticed any of these facts before? Do you think Laurie knew?
21. What was your opinion of Neal Logiudice (pronounced la-JOO-dis)?
22. Do you think Andy’s view of Loguidice changed?
23. What was your opinion of Jonathan Klein?
24. Who do you think had the better opening statement in Jacob’s trial, Klein or Loguidice?
25. Andy thinks Leonard Patz, a registered sex offender, killed Ben Rifkin. Why? Do you think Patz had anything to do with the murder?
26. What ends up happening to Leonard Patz?
27. What did you think of Bloody Bill Barber, Andy’s dad? Was he likable?
28. What was outcome of Jacob’s trial? How did the Barbers celebrate? What went wrong while they were there? Does this prove anything about Jacob?
29. If you believed that Jacob was a murderer…why do you think he was?
30. Andy never told Laurie about his family’s violent history. Why? Would you have told if you were him? How did Laurie react to hearing about Andy’s past? What would your response have been?
31. There is science examining a possible “warrior gene”. Do you think that nature could outweigh nurture in the development of a human being?
32. What do you think of the structure of the book? Was it hard to follow?
33. What did you think of the pace?
34. Did you like the ending? Were you shocked by it? If you were the writer, what ending would you have chosen?
35. Did Defending Jacob remind you of any other books? What books would you recommend to someone who liked this book? Why?
William Landay’s website
Lit Lover’s book discussion questions
Authors at Google: William Landay
SeattlePI interview with William Landay
SeaCoastOnline review of Defending Jacob
The Washington Post review of Defending Jacob
Explaining “nature vs. nurture”
If you liked Defending Jacob, try…
John Madison is an art dealer turned Indiana Jones. Madison is determined to locate the ancient artifact his brother died trying to find. The relic was looted from Iraq’s National Museum. What Madison doesn’t know is that it may contain the alchemic secret of turning metal into gold. Assisted by an archaeologist and a photojournalist – both of whom have their own dark secrets, John Madison races against the clock to unravel a revenge plot and biblical prophecy in D.J. McIntosh’s The Witch of Babylon. Fans of Raymond Khoury, James Rollins, and Clive Cussler will probably enjoy this first adventurous thriller in a projected series of three.
Pam of Research Services recommends Buffalo Bill’s Dead Now by Margaret Coel:
The Arapaho of the Wind River Indian Reservation are the foundation of each book in Margaret’s Coel’s fast paced mystery series. The Arapaho serve as the conduit from the past to the present, as in this book’s focus on Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show. Buffalo Bill showcased the culture of America’s Native Americans, introduced the then dying Wild West to European audiences in London, Rome, Paris, and cities in Germany, and provided a peek into a world gone forever. Chief Black Hawk’s regalia, discovered in Europe, will be returned to Wind River after 120 years. Should artifacts be held by private collectors or preserved in their native land? Coel examines the past becoming the present in Buffalo Bill’s Dead Now.
Josef Horkai wakes up paralyzed after being frozen for 30 years and has no memories of his past or the “kollaps” that destroyed the world. Immobility by Brian Evenson is a postapocalyptic thriller about how to trust the motives of others when you can’t trust your own mind.
Who knew May was so mysterious? Quick on the heels of the Edgars, Malice Domestic has announced the 2013 winners of the Agatha Awards, which honor traditional-style mysteries with no explicit sex, gore, or gratuitous violence. Louise Penny took home her fifth Best Novel Award in six years (!!) for the aptly titled The Beautiful Mystery. Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for Murder won for Best Historical Novel. Need a dash of intrigue right away? You can read the winner for Best Short Story, “Mischief in Mesopotamia” by Dana Cameron, right here. Clue yourself in to puzzles Dame Agatha Christie would approve.