As part of Bas Bleu’s 2014 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions about the featured work—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. You may use the questions to reflect back on each book once you’ve finished it or to guide you as you read. Either way, we hope these features will enrich your reading experience. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!)
Our October selection, The Mystery Box, isn’t officially a Halloween choice. But if it causes a few shivers up and down your spine…well, we can’t promise that’s a coincidence! For this unusual anthology, the Mystery Writers of America solicited twenty-one original short works from prominent authors, all of which had to include a mysterious box, either literal or figurative. Bas Bleu editor AG says, “I’m a recently converted mystery fan, and I plowed through these concise little thrillers…and definitely found some new authors to check out!” We hope you will too.
1. The “mystery box” theme that links this collection was more obvious in some stories than others. Were there any tales that left you confused about what the “box” might be?
2. Though all of the authors featured in this anthology write mysteries, the diversity of the stories speaks to the range of variations within the genre. Were there certain types of stories you were surprised to find out that you enjoyed? Perhaps you’re generally a cozy English-village mystery reader, but found yourself wrapped up in a gritty urban crime tale?
3. We at Bas Bleu love mother-son author team Charles Todd’s war-time mystery novels. So it was interesting to read Todd in short form. (We think we prefer the longer tales.) What do you think are the limitations of the short-story form versus a full novel?
4. What elements do you think make for a good short-story read? Do you think that mysteries are particularly conducive to the medium?
5. Can you think of other good themes to inspire an eclectic group of mystery writers?