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

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Whodunit Meeting May 28, 2013

Spring has sprung! Seventeen members attended Whodunit on a sunny 16 degree C. evening.

We gathered to discuss the novel "The Chalk Circle Man" by Fred Vargas.  Translated from the French, this is the first novel in a series which features Commissaire Adamsberg of the Parisian police.  With unorthodox but effective detecting methods, Adamsberg has an uncanny way of detecting the evil in others.  This novel was the winner of The Crime Writers' Association Duncan Lawrie International Dagger in 2009. 

Despite its literary merits, the rating of the book by Whodunit members was very polarized. There were none who were ambivalent about the novel.  Sixteen of our readers either loved it or hated it.  One abstained from voting because they did not read the book. The average rating out of a possible 10 points was 6.7.

The novel was published in French in 1991 but it did not reach the English audience until 2009.  The reasons members gave for disliking the novel were very similar to the reasons given for really enjoying it.  The characters were eccentric.  Some deemed them unbelievable and farfetched.  Others made a conscious decision to like them and enjoy them, while still others admired the characterizations as an in-depth study of human nature.  One of the central characters was a people-watcher/voyeur who stalked people just to study their behaviour.  Another central character was a young, handsome blind man who was in denial of his disability and enraged by its limitations.

The chalk circles of the title either bored the readers or intrigued them.  Adamsberg recognized them as the portent of evil that the Chalk Circle Man wanted them to be.  He always labeled them with the phrase "Victor, woe's in store, what are you out here for?"

Adamsberg's second in command, Inspector Danglard is an alcoholic single father of five.  His logic and sound police practice are a perfect compliment to Adamsberg's more quirky methods of detection.  The fact that he drinks white wine incessantly turned off the books detractors, but made him more interesting to its champions.

Not a typical mystery novel, "The Chalk Circle Man" is a novel whose character development surpasses the crime element of the story.  That being said... the ending- with its delightful 'twist' was satisfying and had no loose ends

Fred Vargas is the pseudonym of the French historian, archaeologist and writer Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau.
If you want to read a 'Guardian' interview with Fred Vargas click here.

The seven books in this series to date:
1. The Chalk Circle Man
2. Have Mercy on Us All
3. Seeking Whom He May Devour
4. Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand
5. This Night's Foul Work
6. An Uncertain Place
7. The Ghost Riders of Ordebec

This month's lucky winners of the book giveaways were:
Carolyn, Brenda, Heather, Tracy and Shawna. 

On June 25th we will meet again to discuss "The Dying Light" by Henry Porter.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Whodunit Meeting April 30, 2013

Eleven members of the Whodunit Book Club met on April 30 to discuss the legal thriller, Defending Jacob by William Landay.    

In this book Andy Barber, an Assistant District Attorney, finds his world turned upside down and his family life threatened when his fourteen year old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student. Jacob insists he is innocent so Andy sets out to protect and defend his only son. In doing so he is forced to confront his own past and deal with some difficult family truths. 

All members agreed the book was well-written and told a compelling story with a satisfyingly shocking twist at the end. A number of people noted the similarities to We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver and the classic legal thriller, which was reviewed by the Club some years ago, Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow. A few people found the court procedural sections tended to drag as, indeed, they probably do in real life, and not everyone found the characters to be sympathetic but it was generally agreed that the novel stands up well in its genre. 

Whodunit members rated it 7/10.

Lucky winners of the book draw were: Jean, Shona, Marlene, and Tracey.

I was unable to attend this month's meeting.  Thanks once again to Marlene for this blog entry.

Next month we will discuss The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas.