`Munch' group digs into mysteries

Book club

March 25, 2004

An interview with Helen Beckloff, facilitator of Munch & a Mystery Book Club at the Elkridge library.

When did this club start? We started in October. We meet at noon, and people are invited to bring a sandwich. The library provides dessert and a drink. Eight women attend. We have room for more.

What kinds of mysteries have you read? So far, we've concentrated on women writers with women protagonists. All of us have expressed that we don't like graphic violence. We like an intellectual mystery, but we don't want all the details of how the blood runs out.

What are you reading now? Right now, we're reading Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman. This was a suggestion by some of our members.

What book has generated the most discussion in your group? We read a short story [in] The Fever Tree and Other Stories of Suspense by Ruth Rendell. It has an interesting twist. It's about a husband-and-wife relationship. Ruth Rendell is a prolific mystery writer, but this was more of a suspense story.

What is its appeal? I read it a long time ago. When I was trying to get everyone together, I thought of this story. When the club started, the members didn't always read the books, but wanted to discuss books in general. So I wanted to find something short I thought they would all read. The next month, we read another book by Ruth Rendell called A Judgment in Stone. Not everyone liked it, but the book generated a lot of discussion. Right in the beginning of the story, the woman character killed a whole family because she couldn't read or write.

How do you determine what makes a good book for discussion? It has to have interesting characters and situations. Another important thing is the way the story unfolds and how the clues are presented.

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