Here’s a mystery:
Why don’t more people read mysteries?
At least, that’s what members of the Hampton Community Library-based Murder By the Book Club probably wonder as they delve into their latest whodunit.
For a decade now, starting with “Mirror Image” by Dennis Palumbo in June 2012, the group has selected a new read every month.
“We have, on the library’s website, a listing of all the books,” Nancy Connolly said. “It’s very long.”
She and other members of the group gathered for a 10th-anniversary celebration on June 15 in the Rotary Pavilion at Hampton Community Park, with food and friendly conversation preceding the club’s regular meeting time of 6:30 to 8 pm each third Wednesday.
For this month, members read Laura Dave’s “The Last Thing He Told Me,” which spent nearly a year on the New York Times Best Seller List following its May 2021 publication. Perhaps in spite of its popularity, the book drew a favorable response from the Hampton mystery enthusiasts, with an unusual twist noted by Bob Tucek.
“I kind of figured out who the killer was before I figured out who got killed,” he said.
Some best sellers aren’t so well-received.
Connolly recalled the group’s 2013 selection of “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, who wrote the screenplay for a film adaptation directed by David Fincher and starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.
“I think a majority of people didn’t really care for it,” Connolly said. “We talked about maybe going to the movies together, meeting up there. But, no.”
Each month’s choice comes from suggestions by group members, who compose brief synopses for perusal.
“You can choose, yeah, I love this, or I can take it or leave it. Or, please don’t pick this,” Tucek said, explaining that the eventual selection has to be unanimous: “It could be that everybody said yes and one person said no, and we’ll just not do it.”
Each book of the month must be readily available from throughout the Allegheny County Library Association, whether in print or digital form.
The latter came in handy during the height of the covid-19 pandemic. Even though Hampton and other libraries were closed for extended periods, the Murder By the Book Club continued to meet, conducting virtual discussions and getting together outdoors for adequate social distancing as weather permitted.
Club members pride themselves on variety.
“In the 10 years, I could say a handful, maybe six, we’ve repeated an author,” Connolly said. “That’s how many new authors we’re reading.”
Among them have been local writers, including Nancy Martin, best known for her “Blackbird Sisters” mystery series. Several years ago, she visited a club meeting personally, talking with members and signing her books.
The group’s selection for the coming month is “Never Look Back” by Alison Gaylin, a story set in 1976 involving characters reminiscent of the romanticized version of Bonnie and Clyde. Discussion will take place the evening of July 20 at the Rotary Pavilion.
“We could have anywhere from eight people to 18. It all depends,” Connolly said. “And everyone is always welcome.”
For more information, visit www.hamptoncommunitylibrary.org/murder-by-the-book.
Harry Funk is a Tribune-Review news editor. You can contact Harry at [email protected]