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Mystery drama

Mystery drama




A self-critical eye

I have tried to be objective in formulating these topics, and have deliberately posed probing questions about the structure and content of the story.

I’d like to think my story withstands most of these challenges! But I suppose the whole point of the questions is to open the debate.

Peter

Don’t read this until you’ve read the book!
Various plot points are discussed here.

Deficit of Diligence

Reading groups: potential discussion topics

Local Newcastle settings
  • What does the use of local North East settings contribute to this book?
  • Could the use of detailed local settings be a distraction from the underlying story?
  • Would the local settings be perceived differently according to whether the reader is from the North East or from elsewhere?
Local culture and accent

The author makes occasional attempts to render the Geordie accent in direct speech, but says in his Author’s Note that he thinks excessive use would be patronising.

  • Does he get the balance right?
  • Is it convincing?
  • Is the Geordie accent sufficiently familiar throughout the UK these days to make it unnecessary to dwell on it?
  • How would any attempt to render the local accent in speech be received by readers in the USA or elsewhere?
Ethical and moral issues

Mike, the leading character, gets into hot water after publishing a news article based on privileged information.

  • Does Mike have any moral right to disclose what he has learned?
  • Mike intended to publish his news item anonymously. If he had, it might have passed as harmless gossip, but is that attitude any kind of justification for his breach of faith?
  • Mike’s part-time employer, Latimer Logistics, seems unforgiving over Mike’s disloyalty, despite his tireless and trouble-fraught attempts to redeem himself. Should his boss “cut him some slack”, or has he got what he deserves?
Relationship issues

Mike’s girlfriend Ashley is very quick to believe he has been unfaithful, even though she has no special reason to trust Andrea, the person who reports this to her.

  • Is Ashley’s willingness to believe what she’s told plausible?
  • Do the subsequent explanations for Ashley’s credulousness (notably past relationship trauma) adequately reinforce the rationale for her reactions?
  • Are we convinced by Andrea’s motivation for wrongly reporting Mike’s infidelity to Ashley? Does her motivation in fact matter from the plot point of view?
  • Jenna, the would-be seductress, is an enigmatic figure. Why does she seem so ready to throw herself at Mike? Are we meant to like her? Do we?
  • Mike argues that Jenna’s attractiveness played little part in his willingness to befriend her. Are we convinced? Is he? Should his girlfriend be?
Coincidence

There are various coincidences in the plot. Mike spots the girl in the ancient film. He sees both ex-gangster Bladen and would-be beneficiary Philip in a single photograph taken at the racecourse. Howard Salmon lives in the same London mansion block as someone Mike knows. Accountant Nick happens to work at the very accountancy firm started by the partner of Elizabeth, who bequeathed Mike the house.

  • Are all these coincidences made plausible by the plot and in the telling?
  • Are they all necessary? For instance, Howard Salmon could have lived anywhere, and didn’t need to know Mike’s reading group contact.
  • Can such coincidences sometimes operate beyond the factual level of the story, and help to “bind” it together in a way that is satisfying in a broader sense?
  • All in all, does the author “get away” with the coincidences used here?
Set-piece drama and sinister undercurrents

“Everyman” Mike come up against some fairly nasty people in the course of what initially appears to be a low-key business assignment.

  • How credible are the leaps from the relatively mundane to the downright threatening?
  • Philip has few if any redeeming features. Is he entirely credible as a character?
  • Mike continues to feel supportive towards Philip’s wife, despite Philip’s hostility. Are we convinced by his attitude?
  • Bladen’s final undoing arises when he responds to Phillip’s call for help. Are we convinced by this willingness to put himself at such risk?
The will

At the end of the plot, Mike is apparently prepared to forfeit hundreds of thousands of pounds of his legacy in order to achieve an equitable outcome for all concerned, even though legally speaking he could keep it all.

  • Is his decision the right one?
  • Are we convinced by his willingness to share the legacy?
  • What would most people do in his situation?
  • What is morally the right thing to do?
Self-publishing

Peter Rowlands adamantly contends that the overall quality of his writing (transparent prose style, maturity of vision, depth of characterisation, lively dialogue) is the equal of many conventionally published books, and that self-published authors are too often sidelined, being considered inferior by definition.

  • Do we agree with this judgement of his own abilities?
  • How valid is his complaint about attitudes to self-publishing?
  • If this book is not up to the standards of conventionally published books, what differentiates it and marks it down?

 

Download reading group topics

The reading group topics suggested on this page are also available to download in PDF format.

Click here to download.

 

Deficit of Diligence front cover

© Peter Rowlands 2017

 

 

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© Peter Rowlands 2017

 

 

 

 

Peter Rowlands on Facebook Peter Rowlands on Twitter

 

About me

Contact me

Write a review

 

 

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