This past week Suspicious Minds, Northbrook's crime fiction book club, met to discuss Blue Heaven, by C.J. Box.
Blue Heaven was the first stand-alone novel written by Box, author of the popular Joe Pickett series. All of his books take place in the American West...which make sense once you see his author photo...
See what I mean? Total cowboy. His heroes tend to be the Clint Eastwood type - misunderstood, independent, and know how to take care of cattle. (is there a name for that?? I'm such a city girl...)
Anyways, I picked this book for several reasons but mainly because it won the Edgar Award in 2009, and generally the Edgar Award is reliably awesome. For any others running a similar type of book club, check out the Edgar lists. There a great resource.
But I also picked Blue Heaven because it isn't a traditional mystery novel. It is the story of two children who witness a murder, and the men who try to silence them before the children can tell someone what they saw. And since this murder takes place right in the very beginning of the novel, you know who the killers are from the get go.
Blue Heaven reads extremely fast, very much like a thriller, which worried me at first - will this book be discussable? It turned out we had plenty to talk about at Suspicious Minds.
Of the 12 attendees at the discussion, all 12 really enjoyed the book, which again worried me. Sometimes when everybody loves a book, the discussion just dies, but thankfully that was not the case with this group. Some of the words and phrases used to describe the book were: different levels of evil, well-written, good sense of place, city slickers vs country folk, special, and morality tale.
When I asked the group if they still considered the book a mystery, they emphatically said yes. I asked what makes a mystery if it isn't finding out "whodunit" and they answered it's the secrets and knowing what happened that matters most. The discussion then turned towards understanding people's motivations, and what selfishness makes people do. The "levels of evil" in the story are fascinating, and really what takes this book from commercial crime fiction to something more.
Overall, it was a great book. Fun to read. Fun to talk about. I would suggest it to other book clubs that focus on crime fiction.
Whenever I make a display, I like to ask for a little help from my friends. And since August is upon us (already!), I decided a "Back to School" themed book display would be a lot of fun and hopefully something that the adults would find entertaining. When you think about it, there are SO many amazing adult books with school-themes. For example, The Magicians immediately sprang to mind.
But I knew there were TONS that I was missing. So I took to Twitter and Facebook, and of course, people were more than willing to list their favorite books about school. Here are the suggestions:
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Old School by Tobias Wolff
Prep by Curtis Sittenfield
The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman
Discworld series (any books that take place at Unseen University) by Terry Pratchett
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
Straight Man by Richard Russo
The Human Stain by Phillip Roth
Foolscap by Michael Malone
Moo by Jane Smiley
Project X by Jim Shephard
The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
Ms Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
All Souls by Christine Schutt
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
Gossip of the Starlings by Nina de Gramont
Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman
Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner
Election by Tom Perrotta
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd
Mike and Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse
Carrie by Stephen King
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta
The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey
Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers
Murder of a Pink Elephant by Denise Swanson
Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Admission Korelitz by Jean Hanff
Disgrace by J.M. Coetze
Blue Angel by Francine Prose
Testimony by Anita Shreve
The Big U by Neal Stephenson
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy
Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook
And of course...The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
This list is limited to Adult fiction titles (also crossover titles like Book Thief and HP), and is by no means complete! You can add the titles you think are missing in the comments below.