The Cypress Arete Society is the town’s oldest and most exclusive book club. When assistant librarian Trudell Beckett is invited to speak to the club about the library, its modernization, and her efforts to bring printed books to the reading public, Trudell’s friend Flossie invites herself along. Flossie has been on the book club’s waiting list for five years, and she’s determined to find out why she’s never received an invitation to join.
But not long after Tru and Flossie arrive for the book club, they’re shocked to find the club leader, Rebecca White, dead in the kitchen. Rebecca was a former TV actress and local celebrity but not known for being patient or pleasant. She’d been particularly unkind to the book club’s host for the evening, who also happens to be the mother of Detective Jace Bailey, Tru’s boyfriend. And Rebecca had made it clear she didn’t think Flossie was book club material.
With her boyfriend and one of her best friends wrapped up in murder, Tru has to work fast to figure out who cut Rebecca’s story short before the killer takes another victim out of circulation.
Dorothy St. James recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest mystery, A BOOK CLUB TO DIE FOR.
Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
The plot is what grabbed me first when I started to write this book. I started to think about book clubs and how I could turn the experience on its head. I wanted to think about what would happen if a strong-willed member of the book club was murdered. I decided to play with the locked-room mystery trope for this book. My amateur sleuth would be faced with a dilemma. The murderer could be her best friend or her boyfriend’s mother. Either solution is an awful one for Tru. She has to go looking outside the lines if she’s going to have any chance at proving both of them innocent, an impossible task if there ever was one.
What attracts you to this book’s genre?
I enjoy writing in the cozy mystery genre because of the freedom it gives me to write both funny and serious situations in the same book. I love how the funny parts of the book can lighten the reading experience without taking away from the serious questions that can be posed as well. Over the years, I’ve tackled subjects such as addiction, family dysfunction, and abuse. While these are serious subjects, there’s always an element of hope in my cozy mysteries. We can trust that the characters will be able to overcome even the greatest obstacles and that justice will prevail in the end.
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
Writing A BOOK CLUB TO DIE FOR challenged me in that I wanted to keep pushing the tension between new technology in the library and the comfort of doing things the “analog” way. I love technology, but my heroine Trudell Becket hates it. I kept asking myself what could I do with this book that would make her even more uncomfortable around the modernization that is happening at the library where she works? The answer finally came when I read about robots being used in a library. I introduced a prototype robot that would cause all kinds of headaches for Tru. She hated it! I loved it! And my biggest challenge in the end turned into a great opportunity.
Dorothy St. James is a former Folly Beach beach bum. She now lives in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, with her family, slightly (okay, terribly) needy dogs, and the friendliest cat you’ll ever meet. Author of a dozen novels, Dorothy enjoys writing both cozy mysteries and romance.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.