June's Whodunit gathering was made up of a very lively and talkative group! Yet another enjoyable evening! The group welcomed a new member, Heather, who must have been overwhelmed by our chatter.
Pam posed the question: "Have you a favourite book that you buy over and over to give as gifts, or have you a book that you have bought more than one copy of?"
As usual the query garnered much conversation. Many stated that they had a favourite children's title that they repeatedly bought for gifts.
The book under discussion this week was "Coroner" by M.R. Hall.
The first comment was that although the novel had a strong female protagonist, the author is a man (Matthew Ronald Vickery Hall). He is a barrister and this, his first novel was nominated for the 2009 CWA Gold Dagger Mystery Award! He lives and works in the Wye valley in South Wales, where the Jenny Cooper novels are set.
The protagonist, Jenny Cooper has recently been appointed coroner in a small, rural community. It was understood that she was offered the job because they thought she would be easy to manipulate, having recently had a breakdown. Although she is a strong individual she relies heavily on prescription drugs and is emotionally vulnerable in part due to her recent divorce and separation from her teenage son. Her predecessor in the post of coroner recently passed away and her assistant, Allison, remained loyal to his memory, due to the fact that she had been in love with him. This made for an uncomfortable and sometimes frustrating working experience for Jenny.
Many of our group liked the parts in the book that detailed the coroner's courtroom scenes. For the most part, Jenny was thought to be a likeable, strong, and damaged protagonist. Some thought that her addiction to prescription drugs was mentioned too often in the story. Some thought that if that had not been done, the reader would come away with a distorted view of Jenny.
The possible love interest in the novel, Steve, was thought to be suffering from a resistance to responsibility and had a commitment phobia. That is not to say he was unlikeable, only flawed...
The club generally thought that the novel accurately portrayed the corruption present in most social structures and they liked the Welsh detective who seemed to have a Welsh/English rivalry going.
Some members of the club felt cheated because they were robbed of the opportunity to guess who the villain of the novel was because he was not introduced until near the end of the book.
All in all, the book came away with favorable views and I expect many of us will read the sequel(s) "The disappeared" and "The rapture".
This month's lucky book winners were: Gaye, Myrtle, Cathy and Marilyn.
It was announced in club that the local thriller writer, Pamela Callow will be a guest to our meeting on September 28th. Her book "Damaged" has garnered a lot of favorable press and is in high demand. We look forward to her visit.