One for the Money
- In what ways does Cat challenge stereotypes about older women in general and older women detectives in particular? What other older women detectives can you compare her with? Do you find her a believable character? Is her relationship with her kids believable?
- How surprised were you to learn about Betty Bags’s history? Do you think it’s true that we make inaccurate assumptions about the past lives of homeless people?
- Lucille’s story was fairly typical of what Black female actors experienced during much of Hollywood’s history. How much do you think has changed?
- The ending doesn’t offer any guarantee that the murderer will be convicted and punished. Does this bother you? It may be true that the guilty aren’t always punished in real life, but should they always be punished in mystery novels?
- One reviewer has complained that Cat doesn’t change much over the course of the book. Do you find that to be true and would you prefer to see the character evolve during the novel?
- Animal characters play an important role in the Cat Caliban novels, and one reviewer has commented that the cats play too big a role in One for the Money. What do you think?
- There is something especially tragic about the death of a young person as genuinely good as Juky Kay. Do you think that spoils your enjoyment of the book? Do you wish that Juky appeared in the early part of the book so that you could get to know him before he’s killed? More generally, are you bothered by the combination of tragedy and humor in the book?
- Do you find the portrait of the young basketball players authentic?
- The incidence of steroid use by young athletes is perhaps more widely known now than it was in the early 90s when the book was written. Did you guess that these were the drugs responsible for Juky’s death?
- What did you think of the ending?
- The homeless characters from One for the Money reappear in this book. Homelessness rose significantly in the U.S. after the Community Mental Health Act of 1963 resulted in the closing of many publicly funded mental institutions and the release of their residents into the community. Other economic factors exacerbated the situation. Do you think that Borton’s portrayal of homelessness is sufficiently realistic to call attention to the problem?
- How familiar were you with the extent of government surveillance of antiwar groups during the late sixties and early seventies? Is this a history that is widely known?
- In this case, the killer turns out to be a fairly sympathetic character. Did that bother you? Would you have preferred a different ending?
- How believable was the portrayal of Cat’s relationship with her youngest daughter?
Four Elements of Murder
- Much of this book takes place in a different location from that of the previous three books. Were you disappointed in the change of venue?
- Cat’s cousin is a throwback to the earlier days of the Digital Age. Of course, there are no cell phones in the Cat Caliban novels, but do Delbert and his idiom bother you or entertain you?
- This book could be described as a humorous romp through the subject of toxic waste disposal. Are some subjects so serious that they shouldn’t be presented with humor?
- Again in this book, a relatively creative way is found to punish the guilty, but does it fit the crime? Would you find a different ending more satisfying? How would you end the book?
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