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, November 25, 2014

Whodunit Book Club - November 25, 2014

The last Whodunit Book Club gathering of 2014!   Fourteen members attended and were treated to Christmas sweets thanks to our coordinator Pam.

Our book this month was "Cold Mourning" by Brenda Chapman and published by Dundurn Press.  Set in Canada's capital city during the week leading up to Christmas, it was a perfect novel to read this time of year.

The novel opens in 1995 in northern Canada where two young First Nations girls have accepted a lift from a stranger.  An action which brings about tragic and traumatic consequences for them both.
Skip ahead to chapter one and Kala Stonechild has just accepted a position on a special task force of the Ottawa police.  The reader immediately assumes that Kala is one of the two girls mentioned in the prologue.   Her name is apt.  Stonechild, a loner,  reveals little of herself.

The unit she is working for is headed by Jacques Rouleau.  A fair man, likeable and plagued with torment in both his private and professional life.  The others on her squad are wary of Kala at first but seem to develop a healthy respect for her as time goes by.

The first day on the job they are assigned a case of a missing Ottawa business man.  Their goal is to find him and have him home in time for Christmas.   Things are never as simple as they are at first glance and the squad are foiled at every turn.  When the businessman's body is found in the trunk of his car after he has frozen to death they have a plethora of suspects.  A highly dysfunctional family, some murky business deals and even murkier business partners.

The mystery was very well written with just the right amount of great descriptions and several plausible red herrings.   There were a lot of characters in the novel but the characters were so well drawn that the reader didn't become confused for a second.  The protagonists were engaging and likeable.   Tragic relationships abounded.

One grievance most of the Whodunit readers had with the book was the poor editing.  There were several typos, grammar errors and inconsistencies that were jarring and interrupted the flow of the otherwise faultless narrative.

"Cold mourning", the first in the Stonechild and Rouleau mystery series, is the first novel to employ a female First Nations sleuth in Canadian fiction! 
The 14 Whodunit Book Club members in attendance rated the novel out of a possible 10 points.   The average score was 7.5 out of 10 with two votes of a perfect ten among them.

"Butterfly Kills", the second novel in the series will be released on January 10, 2015.

The six lucky winners of book giveaways this evening were:
1. Nancy
2. Brenda
3. Laird
4. Heather
5. Gaye
6. Cathy

Congratulations all!

Whodunit will not have a meeting in December.  Our next Whodunit Book Club will be on January 27, 2015 when we will discuss "The Cuckoo's Calling" by Robert Galbraith (aka J.D. Rowling)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Whodunit Meeting October 28, 2014

A chilly autumn evening and only eight members turned up for our monthly Whodunit Book Club meeting.   The meeting was anything but chilly however.  Much camaraderie and hilarity ensued.

Many topics were discussed, but the novel under discussion was S. J. Bolton's "Now you see me".
The first novel in a series of 4 1/2 so far (four novels and one novella) , the novel was quite highly rated by the group in attendance with a score of 8.5 out of a possible ten points and only one member saying she would not read another in the series.

"Now you see me" was a fast-paced police procedural mystery novel set in South London which contained short chapters with 'cliff-hanger' endings ensuring that the novel was a real page-turner.  The strong and well described opening was very memorable though too graphic for some.  The many twists and well portrayed action scenes were appreciated as were the well rendered descriptive passages and extensive background research.

I wrote a review of the novel on my blog: Fictionophile

The lucky winners of the book giveaways this month were...... drum roll..... everyone in attendance!
Thanks to Pam and Chapters Dartmouth for hosting such an enjoyable meeting every month!

November's title will be: "Cold Mourning" by Brenda Chapman. "Cold mourning" is the first book in the Stonechild and Rouleau mystery series set in Ottawa, Ontario.

Whodunit meeting Sept. 30, 2014

September's title was "Under you skin" by Sabine Durrant.   Fifteen Whodunit members attended and the average score out of ten was 7.64 with only half of the members saying they would read another novel by this author.  Interestingly, the voting was polarized with people voting either very high or very low.  Few members were ambivalent.

Durrant’s latest novel is set in London, England where we enter the life of morning television co-host, Gaby Mortimer.   Gaby has it all, or seems to.   A wonderful high-profile job, a handsome and very successful husband, a darling eight-year-old daughter, a ritzy South London address, and live-in help.
Then, one pre-dawn morning in early spring Gaby goes out to the common near her house for her daily run.  When during her run she discovers the body of a dead young woman – her life is irrevocably changed.  In her shock she touches the girls hair and clothing.  A few days later these factors and other physical evidence lead the detectives to arrest her!   Gaby’s shock, dismay and panic at being arrested are palpable.  With her husband in Singapore on a business trip she has no one to support her during this trying time.  After thirty-six hours pass, with nothing other than circumstantial evidence the police have to release her.  One would think that was the end of Gaby’s nightmare, but no…. her nightmare is only just beginning.   It turns out that the dead woman (who resembles Gaby physically) has been wearing Gaby’s clothes!   The police said that she was at Gaby’s house to interview for the position of nanny – but Gaby has no recollection of such an interview.  And the nightmare goes on….

The novel was full of twists and red herrings and included a surprise ending that took most of us by surprise.  Cleverly written, the novel was a true page-turner.
The members who did not care for "Under your skin" professed to dislike the protagonist so much that it ruined their enjoyment of the novel.  They called her narcissistic and cold.
Those who really enjoyed the novel loved the ending and the empathy they experienced for Gaby during her 'ordeal'.  A few felt 'duped' by the clever plot twist at the end.

The moral of the story - if there was one - would be "assume nothing".

Personally I loved the book and wrote a review of it on my blog "Fictionophile".

Winners of September's book giveaways were:
1. Marilyn
2. Marlene
3. Lynne
4. Carolyn
5. Jean
6. Nancy

At our next meeting on October 28th we will discuss the British police procedural "Now you see me" by S.J. Bolton.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Whodunit Book Club - July 29, 2014

On this midsummer's eve fourteen Book Club members attended the Whodunit meeting at Chapters, Dartmouth.  We discussed the novel "The Killer Trail" by Canadian author D.B. Carew.
"The Killer Trail" by D.B. Carew

The discussion was animated, lively and entertaining - which is more than can be said for the novel.
The average score that Whodunit members gave the book was 3.5 out of a possible ten points.

The overall comments reflected disappointment by the readers.  The premise held promise, but the poor execution failed miserably.  The situations and relationships were unrealistic.  The writing was amateurish and the narrative was far-fetched.  One member equated the novel to a school boy's essay, with juvenile writing and stilted dialog.

The protagonist was an unprofessional and unintelligent social worker.  He was unbelievable in that his actions were unlikely to have happened.  The favourite character of the readers seemed to be Ray, the villian - mostly because his character was more fleshed out than the others.   Some characters seemed to be surplus to requirements altogether.  There was an unexplained kidnapping, a mole that was not revealed, an unnecessary sex scene, and a non-existent ending.  Some members commented that they thought there were several pages missing from their books as the ending just wasn't there.  No resolutions.  Nothing explained.  Nothing.

The book was not entirely without merit.  The cover and the title were good.  The  contemporary premise promising.

Of the author, one member said kindly "Bless his heart, he tried".

Curiously, this debut novel , The Killer Trail, was short listed in 2013 for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger.   Whodunit wonders.... "What were they thinking?"
 The lucky winners of free books this month were:
1.  Marilyn
2.  Marlene
3.  Carmella
4.  Cathy D.
5.  Jean
6.  Lynne

Whodunit book club's next meeting will be held on September 30th when we will discuss the British mystery novel "Under your skin" by Sabine Durrant.

Whodunit members enjoy a 10% discount for book club selections.

"Under your skin" is also available as a Kobo ebook.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

June 24th Whodunit Book Club Meeting

Regretfully, I missed the June meeting of Whodunit.
Thanks to Marlene who kindly wrote the following summation:

Eleven members of the Whodunit Book Club met on a lovely summer evening to discuss Ingrid Thoft’s private eye thriller and first published novel entitled Loyalty. Thoft’s PI is a woman, Fina Ludlow, a law school drop-out who works as a private investigator in the firm headed by her domineering attorney father and alongside her three lawyer brothers. The Ludlow family is decidedly dysfunctional and the family firm has built its ethically-challenged reputation on personal injury cases. When Melanie, the wife of one of the brothers goes missing Fina is given the task of finding out what happened to her without involving the police. The closer she gets to solving the case the more disturbing it becomes for her personally and the more her family closes ranks, forcing her to make choices based on her loyalty to the truth and to members of her family.
A number of people commented on the similarity to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and to Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone. Most members, however, were less than enthusiastic about this novel and its feisty heroine, although one person liked it a lot. Scores ranged between 4 and 9 with the average working out to 5/10. Only one person said they would definitely read another book in the series.

Positive comments: Interesting characters: the niece, Haley and brother and sister-in-law, Scott and Patty, were likeable and sympathetic; the relationship between the madam, Bev and her doctor son, Connor was interesting; the Boston setting was authentic and well-drawn; good book cover that tied into the story; good use of humour.
Negative comments: too much detail that didn’t add to the story or character development, especially around Fina’s junk food diet and wardrobe choices; too many characters and the characters of Fina’s mafia-like family were not well developed or differentiated from each other; lacked suspense; story ended abruptly with details of what exactly happened to Melanie not satisfactorily explained.

Before the book discussion Pam shared pictures of her recent trip to London and Paris. Lucky book draw winners were: Margaret, Marilyn, Heather, and Cathy.
Please note there will be no Whodunit Book Club meeting in August. The book selection for July is Canadian, set in British Columbia, The Killer Trail by D. B. Carew.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Whodunit April 29, 2014

What a great evening of book talk and laughter with friends!
Although we were a small group of eleven, a few of those present were folks we hadn't seen for a while - which made it very pleasant to 'catch up.'

The novel discussed this evening was "Snow White Must Die" by German novelist Nele Neuhaus.

As usual we went around the circle to see what our group thought of the book and how they rated it out of a possible ten points.   Opinions were varied, but the overall average score was 8/10 with only half of the members present saying they would read another novel by this author.

Negative comments:
Too many characters with confusing and unfamiliar German names which were hard to keep straight.  Especially annoying was the use of characters surnames, then later their forenames.  This is a tactic that we as a group find irritating and unnecessarily confusing.  Some found the novel to be longer than it needed to be with too many twists in the narrative.  The ending was said to be weak and implausible.  The author employed the use of many 'red herrings' which was annoying to some readers whilst other readers enjoyed them.

Positive comments:
Great characterization and descriptions throughout.  Especially liked were the protagonist, Tobias and his father.  Also greatly liked were the police officers along with the back story of their personal lives.
Some said that they just couldn't wait to get back to the novel after having to put it down. The novel aptly described the evil that comes from abuse of power.  Tobias served over ten years in prison for a crime that he did not commit.  His homecoming is less than joyful when he finds how his father's life and business have suffered in the interim.  It made the plot even more tragic when it was realized just how many people were affected by the crime's fallout.
Many enjoyed the writing style, but wondered if some nuances might have been lost in the translation from German to English. 

They say "It takes a village to raise a child".  After reading this novel one wonders.... does it take a village to kill a child.  Everyone seems to be hiding something.  The 'ties that bind' were not just familial, they spread to the entire village and their dependency on the rich and powerful Claudius Terlinden.

"Neuhaus is terrific at creating the complex claustrophobia of a village where the same families have lived for generations."--Express review

"Snow White Must Die" is the first of Nele Neuhaus’s crime novels featuring the police detective team of Oliver von Bodenstein and Pia Kirchoff to the be translated from her native German into English, though it is actually the fourth in the bestselling series.  It has already been published in 15 countries with more than three million copies in print.

It was chosen by GoodReads as their 'group read' for the month of April.
The lucky winners of this month's book giveaways:
1. Brian x2
2. Lynne
3. Heather x2
4. Marilyn
5. Nancy
6. Carmella
7. Jean
8. Brenda  x2
9. Cathy

There will NOT be a meeting of the Whodunit Mystery Book Club in May.
On June 24th we will meet again to discuss "Loyalty" by Ingrid Thoft

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Whodunit Book Club Meeting March 25, 2014

Thirteen Whodunit members attended March's meeting where we discussed "The Crossing Places" by Elly Griffiths.
Elly Griffiths

This novel is the first in a series of six novels (so far) and it garnered our highest ever score!  The average score by thirteen voters rated "The Crossing Places" 9.076 out of a possible ten points with twelve of the thirteen saying they would go on to read other novels in this series.  (In fact several had already done so!) 

Members claimed the writing and the characterization was addictive leaving the reader wanting MORE of the same.

Because we almost unanimously loved the book, the discussion was less lively than in other meetings with less debate and more smiles and head-nodding.   Readers loved the character development in the novel -- especially that of Ruth Galloway who is a strong and clever female protagonist, with human fallibilities and a good sense of humor.  Other characters were also well developed and distinct from one another. 

The setting was vividly portrayed so that you could almost feel the cold and damp of the Norfolk marsh.  The fact that the protagonist is an archaeologist was a nice touch with references to archaeology written in an interesting way which was not boring to the reader.

The writing was admired for its spare language which described people, places and actions in a way which painted a vivid picture for the reader while keeping the verbosity to a minimum.  The prologue hooks the reader and doesn't let go until the end - which is the epitome of what we Whodunit members call a ''page turner".  The action was fast paced and there was a masterful balance of serious scenes, humour and personal anecdotes.  The use of red herrings was deployed, but in a way that tied into the plot in a sensible and not gratutious way.

High recommended by the Whodunit Book Club.  Well done Elly Griffiths!
Titchwell Marsh, Norfolk, England

The lucky winners of book giveaways this month were:
1. Nancy
2. Marlene
3. Jean
4. Lynne
5. Marilyn

During tonight's discussion several members expressed an interest in the website "Fantastic Fiction" as it is a valuable and reliable resource for readers who want to follow series fiction.

Next month (April 29th) we will discuss the German mystery novel "Snow White must die" by Nele Neuhaus.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Whodunit Book Club Feb. 25, 2014

Fourteen friends met for book club on this frigid February evening.
A special evening for Whodunit as we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the club's meeting in our present location.  Quite a record for a book club!
The book discussed this evening was "Starvation Lake" by Bryan Gruley.
A debut novel in what is now a series of three titles, the clubs rating out of ten was 6.8 points with half the persons in attendance stating they wanted to read more novels by this author.

Set in northern Michigan, the novel's protagonist Gus Carpenter is a talented hockey goalie. Though Gus walked under a shadow. He was blamed for the town's hockey team losing the state championship game back when he was a teenager.  Since then the town's team hasn't come close and Gus is the scapegoat they blame as a jinx.  After that fiasco he left home for Detroit and a career in journalism.  That too went 'belly-up' and he returned home to Starvation Lake to get himself back on his feet.  Now he works on the small town newspaper as editor.

Ten years ago his former hockey coach went through the ice on his snowmobile.  When the snowmobile is washed up at a different lake than the one where the accident occurred there is rampant speculation of underground tunnels and finally murder.  Gus and his paper set out to investigate this, the town's biggest news in a decade.  The investigation leads to unearthing some dark and dirty secrets which hit close to home.

For a first novel, there were many positive comments such as:
Many of the characters were likeable
Believable premise
Vivid depictions of small town life
Lots of hockey scenes
The author's passion for hockey comes through the narrative

On the negative side:
Starts slow
Too many hockey scenes with too much detail about the game
Too much repetition

The central character of Gus was portrayed as naive and immature.  He seemed self-absorbed.  He let one occurrence in his past colour his whole life. The town compounded his guilt by dwelling on his failure.  They dwelled on him because he did the only bad thing in the town that wasn't a 'secret'.  They couldn't talk about what was really at the root of the 'town rot'.

Some characters were pitiful favorites like Gus's friend Soupy.
An overall favorite character was Sheriff Dingus Aho.

One of the least favorite characters was the paper's receptionist Tilly.

Gus's mother was disliked by some readers, while others thought her to have made the best of a deplorable situation.

By the end of the novel, (which held a surprise for many Whodunit members), Gus had matured somewhat which bodes well for future novels in the series.

One member, Carmella,  declared that this club meeting was a "Who won it" rather than a "Whodunit" as there were six lucky winners of book giveaways.
1. Jean
2. Shauna
3. Carmella
4. Marilyn
5. Nancy
6. Heather

The Whodunit Book Club will meet next on Tuesday March 25th when we will discuss
 "Crossing places" by Elly Griffith.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Whodunit Book Club January 28, 2014

Thirteen members braved the frigid January temperatures to attend January's book club meeting.   The temperature was a great segue to our title this month which was set in the harsh winter of 1867.
We discussed "The tenderness of wolves" by Stef Penney.

A debut novel and winner of the prestigious Book of the Year "Costa Award" in 2006, this month's selection spurred much lively discussion.  Our group rated it 7 out of a possible 10 points.

Favorable comments:
  • Vivid, wonderfully crafted descriptive passages.  (perhaps attributed to the fact that the author is also a screenwriter)
  • Interesting, complex and tenacious characters in a dramatic environment.
  • Historical accounts of life led by Scottish immigrants and the Hudson Bay Company were compelling. 
  • Well researched and well-written.
Unfavorable comments:
  • Overly long with some story lines not relevant to the overall plot.
  • Too many characters to form a cohesive whole.
  • Geography research was at times unbelievable.
  • Plot seems to unravel near the end and loses focus
General comments:
Not a page turner (not necessarily a bad thing...)
Not a mystery in the traditional sense - more a human interest story
Remarkable descriptions considering it was written by someone who has never been to Canada
Each character seemed like an outcast in her/his own way
Favorite characters were Mrs. Ross, William Parker and Donald Moody
Title perhaps refers to William Parker as much as it does to wolves
Indian characters were treated favorably throughout the narrative
Harsh conditions and corruption of the time period were well portrayed

Congratulations to this month's winners of the book giveaways:
  1. Carmella
  2. Marilyn
  3. Jane
  4. Jean
  5. Nancy

February's selection for Whodunit:
"Starvation Lake" by Bryan Gruley