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BookTalk March 2011
BookTalk: The Saints and Sinners book club reads all kinds of mysteries-from cozies to hard-boiled
"Mama Does Time" by Deborah Sharp sparked a great discussion for the Saints and Sinners Book Club.
What would your book group 

The Saints and Sinners Book Club members are mystery readers who meet the first Saturday of the month at the Hamline Midway Public Library in St. Paul. From cozies to thrillers, 12 to 15 of their members meet to discuss books with facilitator Gerri Balter.

What books by women have you recently read?
"Mama Does Time" by Deborah Sharp, "A Christmas Guest" by Anne Perry, "One for the Money" by Janet Evanovich, "Killing Orders" by Sara Paretsky, "A is for Alibi" by Sue Grafton and "Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder" by Joanne Fluke.

What book by a woman sparked a great discussion?
Although most of us considered it 'light' reading, "Mama Does Time" sparked quite a discussion with its Florida setting, which some of us were familiar with through our travels, and its characters, whom many of us 'remembered' from our formative years.

At the same time, there were members of the group whose experiences were different and they did not identify with the characters at all. It made for a lively and interesting discussion; however, I'm not sure there was a 'deeper' meaning.

What book by a woman author would your group most recommend?
Both "Stalking Susan" by local author Julie Kramer and "A Christmas Guest" by Anne Perry were recommended by a majority of the group. They couldn't be more different, as one is a pure thriller and the other has life messages.

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What makes your group work? Any tips?
We have a love of mysteries and the desire to broaden the scope of our reading. Some of us are passionate lifelong readers and some were not great readers in their youth and now wish to expand the range of their reading. Some of us have a demonstrated preference for a certain genre (i.e., Victorian England, cozies, hard-boiled detectives) and feel a need to grow outside our knowledge bases.

The most important 'tip' is to be sure that everyone gets a chance to talk. Some of us love to talk, but sometimes that can intimidate people who have just as much to say but are shy about saying it.

Does your group have any rituals or traditions that you follow?
We discuss books in a very specific protocol: We discuss the location, setting, characters and plot of the book, before collectively discussing whether we 'liked' the book and why or why not. We then vote on whether we would recommend it to others and to what degree: Strongly Recommend, Recommend, Recommend with Reservations, Do Not Recommend.

We often read mystery books by local authors and, whenever possible, we invite the author to attend our meetings. For other books, we take turns recommending authors as each of us happens upon them or as they are recommended to us by fellow mystery lovers. We do stray into the occasional thriller or hard-boiled detective story, as well as reading classics by authors such as Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham and Daphne du Maurier.

- Kristi Iverson

Tell us about your book group! 
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