Welcome to the Reading Group Guide for Red Death. If you haven’t read the novel yet, save these questions until you have finished it because there are spoilers below.
Following are topics designed to provide a stimulating discussion.
- What did you enjoy most about Red Death?
- Given the abuse that the killer went through as a child and youth, is it understandable what he did? Not excusable…but understandable.
- The relationship between law enforcement and the media is a tricky one—especially nowadays. Whose position did you feel was most reasonable, Vail’s or the Waikiki Vacationer’s?
- This story was inspired by Alan Jacobson’s experience in his own neighborhood, where a man in a wheelchair would sell bars of homemade soap in his downtown area. Dozens of people purchased soap daily. Have you ever bought such things from people on the street? Have you ever thought that they could be putting a toxin in the product? (Alan’s a bit…different…as you can tell from his stories, so he has wondered about this! And that’s where the idea behind Red Death came from.)
- This novel is told in two timelines. Did you find that an effective way of telling the story of the killer and Vail’s efforts to catch him?
- Philip’s decision to enlist, and leave Scott, has catastrophic implications…for both Philip and for Scott. He couldn’t have foreseen dying in battle, but should he not have left Scott to fend for himself?
- Do you support Vail’s decision to enter Mary’s house? Do you think she should be disciplined?
- Alan always attempts to make the setting a “character” in the novel. After reading Red Death, did you want to visit Hawaii more, or less, than before?
- Would you like to see Vail pair up with Adam Russell again in a future novel? Of all his ancillary characters—Detective Roxxann Dixon, Inspector Lance Burden, Det. Paul Bledsoe, attorney P. Jackson Parker, Agent Robby Hernandez, who would you like to see featured alongside Vail?
- If you could ask Alan Jacobson one question about Red Death, its characters, or the plot…what would it be?
- Did you learn something you didn’t know before reading Red Death? What was it?