Nostalgia City Mysteries

Mark S. Bacon

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Reading group guide for “The Marijuana Murders”

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Discussion questions

1.  How would you describe Kate’s relationship with Arthur Poole?  Does she act appropriately?

2.  The author mentions songs from the 1970s. Do these songs, and their artists, contribute to particular scenes or the overall focus of the book?  How important is the 1970s setting to the story?

3.  What factor’s influence the Nostalgia City CEO’s opinion of legalizing pot?

4.  Excluding Kate, how would you categorize the role of women in the book?

5.  How is the case for legalizing marijuana presented? Do you think the author has an opinion of legal pot?

6.  The author’s narrative technique is to alternate point-of-view chapters between Lyle and Kate. Was each character’s POV obvious with the change of chapters?

7.  When Arthur Poole says that heroin and cocaine are dangerous drugs it elicits laughs from his audience. Why is that? How does this establish what comes next at the public forum?

8.  This is a mystery. What was the biggest surprise in the book?

9.  How does the author differentiate the voices of the various characters? Is it effective?

10.  What do you think happened to Tony Guerra? Was the author specific enough for you about Guerra’s plight?

Reading group guide for Death in Nostalgia City

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Questions for discussion
  1. The book begins in central Arizona, but the plot leads the main characters to Boston and back. How do the multiple settings contribute to the book? How do they affect the actions of the main characters?
  2. Lyle’s relationship with his father generates both anger and guilt. What does he mean by that and how does this motivate him throughout the story? Does he have other motivations?
  3. How would you describe Kate Sorensen’s role in the story? How does her approach to challenges differ from Lyle’s?
  4. How important is the retro theme of Nostalgia City to the theme of the book? How do they differ? Do you think the author has an opinion about the value of celebrating or enjoying the past?
  5. In the face of Lyle’s fairly obvious instability, is Kate justified in trusting him?
  6. This is a mystery, but the author establishes FedPat Corporation as a likely source of criminal activity early on. Did this leave enough questions for the reader to solve? How close to the actual workings of a large insurance company, excluding perhaps murder, do you think this is? 
  7. Kate uses her background in competitive athletics as inspiration to deal with crises without looking back. How does it work?
  8. How does Lyle employ his “loiter and listen” strategy?  Is it effective?
  9. Lyle and others make references to celebrities and events from past decades, some of which may be obscure.  Do references to people such as Vic Tanny and Jeannie C. Riley puzzle you or contribute to the setting of the story? 

“Death in Nostalgia City” is library assn. selection

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Death in Nostalgia City was recommended this month for book clubs  by the American Library Association’s Book Club Central.

The book was selected for its fresh start theme.  In Death in Nostalgia City, one of my two protagonists is ex-cop Lyle Deming. His wife divorced him then he was dismissed from the police department, in part for his erratic behavior.  Anxiety is his default setting.  Desperate  for a stress-free job that has nothing to do with consoling murder victims’ families, Lyle becomes a cab driver—in a theme park.

Nostalgia City is no ordinary theme park.  Covering several square miles in central Arizona, the park is a re-creation of an entire small town from the mid-1970s. Peace and relaxation reigns–until someone starts sabotaging rides and killing tourists.
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