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We filled the kiddie room this week at Crime & Beyond. We had 20 mystery lovers all cozied together to discuss Redemption Road by John Hart (and no one had to sit on the dinosaur). We really had a great discussion. Not only is “John Who?” one of our favorite authors, but his books are well-written and offer up great topics of discussion, from the characters to the plot to the locale.

Redemption Road was a story about, well, redemption. But whose redemption, you might ask. Well, therein lay the discussion. The book’s Amazon description is as follows: Imagine: A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother. A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting. After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free as deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, a body cools in pale linen…This is a town on the brink. This is Redemption Road.

The scores were mostly on the high side, but we did have a range. Jeff was our high end and gave the book it’s only 10. There were also five scores of 9. Three gave a score of 8.5 and three more an 8. We had one score of 7.5 and two of 7. Then we had one 6.5, one 6 and on the low end Joan and Denise gave it a 5.

The positive comments were that the writing was excellent, the characters were awesome, and there was a lot of suspense. Dave liked that each character had their own perspective on things. There was a high enough body count for Judy, but Deborah thought the story was a bit dark in the whole priest gone bad and crimes against women scenario.

On the negative side, quite a few people thought there were too many story lines and that this caused it to be a bit convoluted and maybe even confusing. At least a few people thought the ending was unbelievable. And speaking of unbelievable, some people didn’t buy that Liz would take the rap for the murders in the basement. Denise thought the story was predictable. At least one person didn’t think it followed that you had two police officers who found the gold coins and neither of them considered giving the money back or doing something good with it. Some of us thought that all of them hiding out in New Mexico was a good thing, though.

As far as the murderer went, many of us guessed the priest at different points in the book (Dave got it on page 32 and Janine held out until page 320). A lot of us then didn’t trust our first impression and wanted to accuse the rapist and the warden at some point. Raj just covered her bases by suspecting everyone. I think we all thought the rapist was creepy, especially naming his daughter Liz.

We didn’t just want to slap Channing’s Mom, we wanted to beat her with a stick. And speaking of sticks, Judy suggested putting the warden in the prison yard unarmed and then giving all of the prisoners he had taken advantage of a stick. Lorraine would like to cast Donald Sutherland in the role of Crybaby Jones in the movie version of the book.

As much as John Hart’s books have a sense of place, the setting in Redemption Road seemed unimportant in the scheme of things. It really could have been any small town USA, the characters and situation were what mattered and the setting was secondary.

Thank you to Amy for her cookies and cannoli. You can tell how good they were by how few were left at the end of the night.

Next month we will have our annual holiday party on Thursday, December 15th at my house: XXXX XX XXXXX XXX, XXXXXX, XXXXX. Your invitation should already be in your inbox, if for some reason you didn’t get one, please let me know ASAP.

We will be “discussing” Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger and eating, drinking, and stealing books. It will be loads of fun!

We chose 6 books that will get us from March 2017-August 2017. I will have a sign-up sheet for leading the discussion and bringing snacks at the December meeting. Here are the books:

March: Marked for Life by Emelie Schepp
April: The Black Widow by Daniel Silva
May: Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
June: The English Spy by Daniel Silva
July: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
August: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware