About the Whodunit Book Club

Whodunit Book Club has met in its present location for almost seventeen years! If you would like to join us, our meetings are held on the last Tuesday of every month (except December).
We meet at the Chapters Store located at 41 MicMac Blvd., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Phone (902) 466-1640

Thursday, January 27, 2011

WHO reads mysteries?

If you are reading this blog then you are quite likely a reader of mystery novels. However.... did you ever wonder just exactly WHO reads mysteries? I found a fascinating report compiled by Sisters in Crime that sheds some light on just WHO reads mysteries. On page 4 of this report you will find that they polled 1,056 people and include statistics such as: 64% were female; 47% were over 60 years of age, etc. etc. So if you are curious, give it a read.
The results made me ponder. If 47% are over 60 and only 14% are under 30 years of age… doesn’t that correlate to what those who were polled read as children?
Today my two genres of choice are mystery and historical novels. I grew up with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys with some classics thrown in for good measure.
Does the fact that today’s youth are reading fantasy (Harry Potter) and vampire novels predispose them toward fantasy reading in their later years?
In this digital age some suggest that a very small percentage of youth read for pleasure at all. That thought makes me very sad… I have also read that students fail to read complete novels at school if they have access to short extracts. (Cliff Notes, Coles Notes).
Don’t misunderstand me, I think it is great that today’s youth are reading, but I am fairly convinced that they should be exposed to a wider selection of genres. What they read now may indeed influence their future choices.
I would love to hear your comments on this topic.

Mystery authors on Facebook

Many of you now belong to the social network Facebook. Did you know that many of your favorite mystery series authors are on Facebook as well?
For a comprehensive listing of authors on Facebook visit the blog of Carol Thomas.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Whodunit Book Club January 25, 2011

Another new year has begun. How nice to share it with Whodunit! This month marks the 13th anniversary of Whodunit so that is something to celebrate!
Seventeen members turned up for our first meeting of 2011.
Pam's magical question this evening was in three parts: "What brings you back to Whodunit? What do you enjoy most about it? What would you like to see in future meetings?"
The prevalent response was that members came for the social aspect of it. They enjoy spending time with like-minded people who understand book 'addiction' and are enthusiastic about reading. They find coming to club encourages more variety in their reading choices and they like sharing opinions with other members. Some mentioned that they would enjoy having more authors visit Whodunit meetings.
The book discussed this evening was "The case against Owen Williams" by New Brunswick author Allan Donaldson.
Born in Taber, Alberta, Donaldson grew up in Woodstock, New Brunswick and now resides in Fredericton. Not much information is available about Donaldson other than that his first novel, "Maclean", was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.
The publisher's description of "The case agaqinst Owen Williams": "Donaldson’s new novel is a literary mystery set in the fictional town of Wakefield, New Brunswick, against the backdrop of the Second World War. Following a night at The Silver Dollar dance hall, a teenage girl turns up dead in a gravel pit. The last person reported to have seen her is Owen Williams, an introverted soldier stationed with the local garrison of “Zombies”-conscripted men unwilling to serve overseas. When Lieutenant Bernard Dorkin, a young lawyer from Saint John, volunteers to defend Williams, whom he believes is innocent, he finds himself up against a theatrical local favourite leading the prosecution and a public mostly hell-bent on a foregone conclusion. The Case Against Owen Williams explores the potential for wrongful conviction and the gaps in the justice system that allow it to flourish."
Whodunit members found this novel very realistic. So much so that it didn't 'feel like' fiction. It lacked the psychological background explanations that we tend to prefer in novels. Members found it curious that Owen Williams' parents seemed to have no heart-felt reaction to his predicament.
The protagonist was Bernard Dorkin, the lawyer. The case made him examine his duties and responsibilities to his client and he firmly believed his client was innocent of the crime. The club questioned "Would Dorkin have defended Owen Williams as well if he had NOT believed in his innocence?" It was unfortunate that Williams stuck to his false story which totally discredited his testimony. Whodunit members thought Owen Williams to be naive, pitiful and even pathetic. Not a particularly likable fellow, he didn't even say thank-you to his lawyer for all his hard work in defending him. Also he called the victim names after his exoneration. We wondered how the case would have proceeded if it were tried today. Blood tests and DNA evidence might have cleared it up quickly as all the evidence presented in the novel was completely circumstantial.
Whodunit members enjoyed the descriptions and 'feel' of the New Brunswick setting. It was also commented upon that Donaldson had a good grasp on the use of similes and metaphors.
Per chance, one Whodunit member happened to see a television program called "Ghost cases". The episode was about a local ghost story in St. Andrew's, New Brunswick and featured a haunting in the old jail built in 1832. The last person to be hanged in St. Andrew's was Tom Hutchings, an RAF sergeant convicted of murdering a 19 yearl-old local girl, Bernice Connors following a dance in the local community centre while he was stationed in the area. According to witnesses, Hutchings has never left the jail and continues to haunt his old cell.
Links to newspaper reports of the case can be found here. Also "The case of the haunted cell" website provides information on this topic.
Whodunit members then speculated that Allan Donaldson may have used this case as the basis upon which he wrote his novel. Surely there are too many similarities for there to be no connection. It was also surmised that if Tom Hutchings had indeed been innocent he had all the more reason to haunt the jail.

The lucky book winners this evening were: Nancy, Heather, Lynne and Jean.

Gifts for bibliophiles

Looking for gifts for your bibliophile friends? or maybe yourself? While perusing one of my favourite author's websites (Susan Hill), I came across some great items.

Also there are bibliophile gifts available here.

More great gifts can be found at CafePress.ca

Whodunit Book Club Nov. 30, 2010

Sorry, this one is late being posted. I wrote it after the meeting and forgot to upload it to the blog. My apologies.
November's meeting was particularly enjoyable. It was our last meeting of 2010 and there were 23 members in attendance.
The magical question this month: "Have you ever made a New Year's resolution that was book related?" As usual the answers were both interesting and varied. Some responses were: To read one book per week for the next year ; To count and keep track of the books read over the year ; to read books by authors with names that begin with A thru Z so as to broaden reading horizons ; to stop buying so many books and use the library more ; to weed personal book collections and give excess to charity ; to finish one series before starting another ; to try a new genre than one which you presently read ; to read more poetry ; to increase number of books read per year.
This month's book was "The forgotten garden" by Kate Morton. This is a book that I personally enjoyed so much, I wrote a separate blog entry about it on my Fictionophile blog.
We learned a little about the author, Kate Morton. She holds a degree in English Literature and Kate is currently enrolled in a PhD program researching contemporary novels that marry elements of gothic and mystery fiction. She is a bestseller in the United Kingdom as well as her native Australia and has sold more than 3 million books! She used her grandmother's experience as the basis for this novel.
What Whodunit thought of "The forgotten garden":
Some members loved it (myself included). These found the different perspectives of the narrative to be like a 'kaleidoscope'. The language and style was admired as was the seeming ease and smooth transition with which the author handled the time shifting. This group found the novel sentimental and magical and approved of how the author incorporated fairy tales as clues to the plot line.
Other members didn't enjoy the novel and found it 'sappy', slow and tedious.
Most members would read another book by Kate Morton, though some had read her first novel "The house at Riverton" and deemed it a disappointment.
Her latest novel "The distant hours" is on shelves now.
The lucky winners of this month's bookaways were: Margaret, Trish, Heather, Terena, Regis and Laird.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2011 Edgar Award Nominees

Here are the best novel nominees for the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction produced in 2010. The Edgar Awards will be presented to the winners at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City on April 28th, 2011.

Caught by Harlan Coben (Penguin Group USA - Dutton)
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
Faithful Place by Tana French (Penguin Group USA - Viking)
The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books)
I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

Mystery's Grand Master for 2011: Sara Paretsky