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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

All Mortal Flesh: A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery

1. Imagine All Mortal Flesh as the basis for a screenplay. Choose a scene and discuss how you, as the director, would want to film it.

2. Her relationship with Russ aside, is Clare as skilled at resolving her own inner conflicts as she is at dealing with those of others? Are there any relationships in particular that you think she mismanages? Why?

3. Conventional wisdom in present day society often suggests, in one form or another, “there is more sorrow in not following your heart.”  Often paraphrased as “if it feels good, do it…” What do you think?

3. Do you think the life that Clare lives is appealing?

4. Why do you think the author entitled her book All Mortal Flesh?

5. Do you have a favorite character - or one you love to hate - in the story [other than Clare and Russ]?

6. Did the book leave you wanting to learn more about any character? Who?

7. What do Aaron and Quinn have to say about the pitfalls of parenting in today’s society?  As a parent, what steps might have succeeded in avoiding their fates?

8. What do Aaron and Quinn have to say about the pro’s and con’s of being raised in a small town?  Is our society’s increased focus on huge schools and the internet resulting in a similar phenomenon of isolation and boredom in suburbs and cities as well?  Think Columbine. Think the Dartmouth murders.

9. Does it take a village to properly raise a child?  And if so, what happened here?

10. What do you think of combat and law enforcement veteran, and grown man,  Russ seeking shelter, literally, with his mother in time of need?  Does this ring true from a mother’s perspective?  From a  mature man’s perspective? What does this say about his emotional maturity level? Would you choose a similar path in time of emotional need?

11. What are the defining events in Clare and Russ’s lives? Or have they occurred yet?

12. What do you think of the role of Deacon Elizabeth? Of her personally?  Does she ring true as a character?  A human being? 

13. The primary murderous act in All Mortal Flesh is, ultimately, a purely random act of violence.  Yet, the ripples affect so many lives irrevocably.  What does this say about the randomness of violence in American society, and the message in a society that differs markedly, in its level of murder rates, from most other societies in this world.

14. Was the ending largely fated to happen, or could Linda, Russ or Clare have taken steps that might have avoided their respective catastrophes?  If so, what? When?

All Mortal Flesh: A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery
by Julia Spencer-Fleming

  • Publication Date: October 3, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 0312312644
  • ISBN-13: 9780312312640