Lay Death at Her Door is a great book to talk about! It resonates with topics such as the justice system, unreliable narrators, gender bias, unlikable protagonists, and “fair play” in mysteries. Some of these issues are addressed in the blog posts, too.
SPOILER ALERT! The following questions do not explicitly reveal the twist at the end of the book, but they are suggestive. Best to read the book before reading these questions!
- How important is it for the main character of a novel to be likable? Kate is deeply flawed. Did this prevent you from enjoying the story? If not, what compensated for the dark protagonist?
- Kate grew up unsupervised, with a mother who was mentally ill, in politically turbulent times. Does this make her actions any more understandable?
- Kate is intelligent, decisive, and brave. If she were a male character, do you think she would be viewed more favorably? Are her faults and misdeeds more harshly judged in women?
- Kate lies to and misleads other characters. Do you think she is honest with herself? Does she lie, in the narrative, to the reader? To herself? Where? About what?
- Were there questions that were left unanswered or aspects of the story that you wanted to know more about?
- When you got to the end of the book, where Kate reveals her most closely held secret, were you surprised? If you had already guessed her secret, when did you first suspect it and why?
- When you found out what the truth was about Kate, did it change the way you felt about her? How and why? What are some of the things it explained that might have been bothering you?
- Late in the book, after the whole truth has been revealed, Suzanne defends Kate by saying she’s a victim. Do you see any merit in this defense? Is Kate a victim?
- Knowing the truth at the end and looking back, do you think the narrative “plays fair” with the reader? Why or why not?
- What do you think happens to Kate? Did the ending clearly resolve her fate in your mind? Do you think she will get what she deserves? How do you picture her in ten years, or twenty?
Thank you so much for choosing Lay Death at Her Door. I hope you enjoy the book and your discussion of it. Please feel free to contact me. I would love to hear from you! And if you are reasonably near Austin, Texas, I’d be happy to join you. —EB