This is the Reading Group Guide for the new psychological thriller, The Reading Group Killer. Based on a true story, The Reading Group Killer tells the story of a gruesome book club-turned-bloodbath when one member, after years of enjoying friendly discussion and light refreshments, transforms into a murderer. The questions that follow are intended to enhance your discussion, as well as perhaps help you defend yourself against one of the hundreds of copycat crimes that have been inspired by the book, leaving the vast majority of book clubs across the country decimated by senseless tragedy.
1. The Reading Group Killer imagines a world where someone pretends to enjoy her monthly book club, when in fact she is a soulless monster. Which member of your group do you think is most likely to be plotting the death of everyone else in the room?
2. Are you sure? Isn’t everyone hiding a deep, dark secret? Go around the room and guess everyone’s secrets. Try not to censor yourself, like Geoffrey did (pp. 78-81), a decision that ultimately led to his beheading.
3. In Chapter 7 (“It’s Her — The One Eating The Brownie!”), Charlene assembles an explosive device in the bathroom (pp. 106-117). Do you search the members of your book club before they enter your home? Have you removed all toxic chemicals from your bathroom? Do you think it might anger the killer if you were to stop the meeting and take time to do so right now?
4. Was the initial reaction of the book club — insisting that this kind of evil could never happen to good friends like them (pp. 32-36) — merely naive, or did Rebecca purposely try and minimize the potential threat in order to distract the others from paying close attention to her movements? If someone wanted to hide a razor blade between the pages of their paperback, do you think you could tell?
5. Jennifer eats the cookies (pp. 153-155), without for a moment suspecting they could be laced with an undetectable poison. Doesn’t her failure to exercise more caution when eating things prepared by virtual strangers make her largely to blame for her own slow, painful death?
6. Louise makes her first appearance relatively late in the story (p. 66), after hearing about the book club “from a friend.” Doesn’t her sudden interest in reading, and especially her interest in joining this particular book club, make her the most obvious suspect? Who’s the newest member of your book club? Have you searched his home for weapons?
7. In a recent interview, the author admitted that she enjoyed tracking which reading groups were set to discuss her book, and then sneaking into their meetings and slaughtering all of their members, execution-style, like Jack did, in Chapter 19 (“This Lemonade Needs Ice — And Look Out For The Woman In The Mask!”). Are all of your doors locked?
8. It is said that a book can only be truly appreciated if everyone in the group shuts their eyes for thirty or forty seconds, and meditates in complete silence. Ignore the noises coming from the garage, and do this now, like Janet did (pp. 213-18), right before the final massacre.
9. If you reach this last question, congratulations. You have survived, at least for now. If you go to the book’s website and tell us the time and location of your next meeting, we will send you a signed copy, as well as a special, secret prize. Do that. Seriously, it’s a very special prize that you won’t want to miss.
If you enjoyed The Reading Group Killer, be sure to check out the author’s latest, The Assassin in the Bookstore. Available wherever books are sold, but particularly at Books & More on Main and 14th, next Tuesday at 3.
Image: The Woman in Black