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This reading group guide for Open Secret
, by Deryn Collier
, includes an introduction and discussion questions for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.Introduction
After the abrupt end to his military career, Bern Fortin has settled into an uneasy peace in Kootenay Landing—a peace he knows can’t last.
Small-time drug dealer Seymour Melnychuk is found dead after being shot in the forehead. In a seemingly unrelated incident, Gary Dowd abandons his van while crossing the US border. Could the incidents be connected? As Bern and police constable Maddie Schilling close in on the killer, they soon find that secrets can’t remain buried forever – not even their own. Questions for discussion
1. The Kootenay Landing community is, to some degree, supported by the financial and health benefits of the marijuana industry. Discuss the importance and the detriments of individuals breaking the law for something they believe is their right.
2. Early in the novel, we are introduced to Cindy Forsberg as a young girl in an abusive and poverty-stricken home. Why do you think the author chose to include this narrative of familial abuse within Indigenous communities?
3. In what ways are women marginalized in the book? In what ways are they empowered?
4. What are Gary Dowd’s motivations for marrying Cindy’s adopted sister, Michelle? Do you feel compassion for Gary?
5. Bern Fortin takes on various roles throughout the book. He is a lover in Montreal and New York, a soldier in Rwanda, and a coroner in Kootenay Landing. How does he adapt to these roles? In what ways does he remain the same?
6. Nature acts as both a benevolent and malevolent force throughout the book. How does the book explore the concept of nature?
7. Both the growing and the sharing of food play significant roles in the book. What do you think food symbolizes in Open Secret
8.“A soldier’s instinct is a terrible thing, as is a police officer’s. At a certain point, training takes over. It’s not a choice. Society depends on this fact (page 421).” How does the book explore the idea of instinct?
9. What is the significance of Aimee’s abduction?
10. Was Gia justified in her actions?