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In the Bleak Midwinter

A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery

In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming
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Questions provided by the reading group of St. Martin of Tours Episcopal Church in Kalamazoo, MI, courtesy of David Senecal
1. What do you think of Clare Fergusson as a person?
2. What do you think of Clare as a priest?
3. How does St. Alban's strike you as a parish? A place you'd want to be? A good match for Clare and its members?
4. What are your reactions to the re lationship between Clare and Russ?
5. What do you think of the setting of the story [In The Bleak Midwinter] and how it is described and used in the book? Have any of you travelled in the Adirondacks and be willing to share your impressions of the area?
6. Do you have a favorite character - or one you love to hate - in the story [other than Clare and Russ]?
7. What are your thoughts about the use of prayer in the book?
8. Do you think the book is successful as a mystery?
9. Is there a good balance between the plot, social and religious issues, and personal relationships in the book?
10. If MIDWINTER were made into a movie, what actors could you see playing Clare and Russ?

Questions provided by the mystery reading group of the South County Regional Library in Charlotte, NC, courtesy of Lawrence Turner
1. Is Clare Fergusson a realistic character (in regards to being a member of the clergy after year earlier being trained as an army pilot)?
2. Does the author give a strong sense of place/setting/community/use of dialogue in the book?
3. Did the author do a good job telling this story--is it involving, suspenseful, plausible?
4. Did the book leave you wanting to learn more about any character? Who?
5. Could this story have been the same if the absent Mrs. Russ Van Alystne was present?
6. Why does Clare continue to assist Russ in two criminal investigations--why is she so curious and assertive?
7. Why does Russ permit Clare to accompany him?
8. Clare and Russ work well together when following up on an abandoned baby case but run into some friction when pursuing a murderer--is this conflict to be expected?
9. Are there any instances in the book when foreshadowing is used?
10. Why is Clare's wardrobe important throughout the story (i.e., boots, clerical collar)?
11. What does Clare's car say about her or represent to her?
12. Could this story take place in another time period (say, even 25 years ago) and still be the same basic story? Would this story be as effective in another region of the country?
13. Is the book a cozy mystery? (for the unsure, cozy mysteries can be defined and then treatment of certain scenes and situations can be reviewed)

St. Martin's Press; April 2007
ISBN 9781429909051
Download in secure EPUB
Title: In the Bleak Midwinter
Author: Julia Spencer-Fleming
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