Guest Blogger: Denise Swanson


Book clubs have been around for a long time, but in the past few years, they seem to be popping up everywhere. It seems to me that books clubs became more visible and appeared cooler when Oprah started her club. Ms. Winfrey’s stated purpose was to get more people reading, or if you already were a reader, she hoped you would become more ardent about books. The novels she selected were often challenging, and I admit, I didn’t enjoy a lot of them. But she dared her club’s members to read between the lines, which I was more than willing to do.

As a writer, I’m often asked to speak to various book discussion groups. So when one such group, the Stepping Out Book Club, suggested that my next book should center around a book club meeting, I thought, yes, yes it should.

My sleuth, Devereaux Sinclair, owns Devereaux’s Dime Store, an old-fashioned variety store that she has opened up to various community groups. In Dead Between the Lines, my March book, the Shadow Bend version of the Stepping Out Book Club hold their monthly meeting in Dev’s store and someone doesn’t make it home alive.

When I decided to write about murder in a book club, I researched the popularity of these groups to try to figure out why so many people were forming and/or joining book clubs. Was it to share ideas or for the social interaction or was it just an excuse to drink wine and eat chocolate? As a reader, I knew that this type of group was every bookworm’s dream party. Or was it?

Theoretically, a book club would be a place where you could openly express your views of the book, what you liked or disliked about it, and delve into the book’s true meaning. As a psychologist, I was fascinated with the possibilities. What would happen if the group passionately disagreed? Book clubs often consist of many different kinds of individuals and they discuss some topics that could become extremely inflammatory. There frequently is an assortment of ages, social backgrounds, and educational levels. This kind of situation is fertile ground for heated debates and hurt feelings.

As I mulled over the idea that members could become fevered over a disagreement, it dawned on me that a guest author could stir up the situation even more. Especially an arrogant, supercilious jerk. Perhaps a writer who felt he was smarter or more sophisticate, or just plain superior to the book club members—not that I’ve met any authors like that. Still, once the idea started bouncing around in my imagination, I couldn’t get rid of it until I wrote the story.

Are you a member of a book club? Have you ever attended a meeting with a speaker who was so obnoxious you wondered if he or she would make it out of the gathering alive?


Series: A Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery, #3
Publisher: Obsidian
Released: March 4, 2014

Opening an old-fashioned five-and-dime shop in her small Missouri hometown has been a great change for Devereaux “Dev” Sinclair. But when she hosts a reading group there, she learns that bad writing can mean life or death.

To keep her new business in the black, Dev opens up her shop to local clubs. But in the first meeting of the Stepping Out Book Club, the speaker storms out after members attack his poetry’s sexism and scorn for small towns. Later that night, the poet’s body is found outside Dev’s store.

Dev can’t afford for the murder to close her down, so she does a little stepping out of her own to investigate, with help from her two sexy suitors, Dr. Noah Underwood and Deputy U.S. Marshal Jake Del Vecchio. But when the killer threatens Dev, they will have to use every trick in the book to solve the case before she becomes the final chapter in this murder mystery….

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