1. What did you like / dislike?
2. What do you make of the title? Who is searching? Trey (for Brendan)? Cal (for a new start)? Mart (for a sheep slayer)?
3. Why did Cal go to Ireland? Does his character work for you? Do you need to know his story earlier in the text?
4. Can a woman write a male cast? Does it work here?
5. What do you make of Cal's comment that "nineteen is the right age for a lot of things that can start misfiring inside someone's mind"? (172)
6. What do you think of learning of Cal's marriage through Donna intruding into Cal's thoughts?
7. What does it mean to be a morning person? "Cal has always liked mornings. He draws a distinction between this and being a morning person, which he isn't: it takes time, daylight and coffee to connect up his brain cells. He appreciates mornings not for their effect on him, but for themselves." (155)
8. What/who did you think was killing the sheep?
9. Was Cal running from something in his past? "His four best buddies were among the reasons he left Chicago; the depth and detail with which they knew him had come to feel unsafe..." (202) Later, the guys at the pub, while talking about his beard: "This fella thought you were on the run." (214)
10. What is the difference between manners, etiquette and morals? "Etiquette is the stuff you gotta do just 'cause that's how everyone does it...Manners is treating people with respect...Morals...is the stuff that doesn't change. The stuff you do no matter what other people do." (264-5)
11. What do you make of Cal's assertion that Ben never helped a guy in a wheelchair or that "everyone was always talking about talking, and the most moral person was the one who yelled at the most other people for doing the talking all wrong." (265)
12. How does the author allow current affairs / issues to seep into the story through Cal's past?
13. Why put questions of manners and morals in the book? What purpose do they serve?
14. Did you ever suspect Trey of any crime? How did your impression of Trey change over the course of the book?
15. What do the weather and terrain have to do with the pace and direction of the story / plot? "Cal doesn't like the stark contrasts in this terrain. They have the same feel as the weather, of an unpredictability deliberately calculated to keep you one step behind." (276)
16. What do the rooks represent?
17. In what ways are we influenced by our environment? "The morning has turned lavishly beautiful. The autumn sun gives the greens of the fields an impossible, mythic radiance and transforms the back roads into light-muddled paths where a goblin with a riddle, or a pretty maiden with a basket, could be waiting around every gorse-and-bramble bend. Cal is in no mood to appreciate any of it. He feels like this specific beauty is central to the illusion that lulled him into stupidity, turned him into the peasant gazing slack-jawed at his handful of gold coins til they melt into dead leaves in front of his eyes. If all this had happened in some depressing suburban clot of tract homes and ruler-measured lawns, he would have kept his wits about him." (368)
18. Cal is really hard on himself, kicking himself every time the others "outsmart" him. Did Cal really make any mistakes when trying to help Trey find answers?
19. How creepy is Mart? He just gets to walk away after burying Brendan and not telling his mother he's dead -- and after making Sheila beat Trey? Why does Cal conclude that marching Mart to the police "wouldn't be the slightest bit of use"? (419) Because no one could prove it?
20. According to Cal, morals are having your own code and sticking to it. Does that mean that Mart's actions are justified by his own personal code?
21. Which book did you find more disturbing, this or Disappearing Earth?
Good to see you last night to discuss Tana French's The Searcher. Some of us were pulled in by the scenery, and one mom could verify that the author did a great job nailing the cadence and dialect of the Irish characters' speech. Some of us felt it was slow to start, so I appreciated hearing about how that might have been intentional given various characters' tendencies to "play their cards close to the chest".
If you guys are in the mood for more of Tana French's mysteries, I wanted to pass along what one mom shared last night: Rather than tell each book of the Dublin Murder Squad series from the perspective of one detective, each subsequent book is told from the point of view of a particular character mentioned in previous books. I thought that was an interesting technique and one that would draw me into a group of people even deeper than only getting one viewpoint. One mom's favorite of those is The Likeness.
I'm not sure where we'll go next, so please feel free to write in with recommendations or suggestions.
Hope you all have a good weekend!
The Tipsy Mamas' Book Club is co-hosted by Corinne Foster and myself, though the spirit of our discussions is flavored by many readers.