Book Group Questions: Digging Up the Dead
(1) The title, Digging Up the Dead, is intended to suggest more than one meaning. What multiple meanings did you find for the title?
(2) Some scholars have argued that valuable Egyptian artifacts such as those in museums in England, the United States, Italy, and France should be returned to their home country because archeologists unfairly appropriated them. Recently a 3,300-year-old sculpture of Tutankamum’s head was sold at auction to a private collector for $6 million despite claims by the Egyptian government that the bust was actually stolen. Does the story in Digging Up the Dead add to the dialogue about the true and fair ownership of ancient artifacts?
(3) Crispin’s relationship with her family is an important part of the story in Digging Up the Dead. Discuss how her relationship with her brother, her father and her mother affect her decisions. How does her understanding of her father and her mother and their love for her change over the course of the story?
(4) Crispin’s relationships with friends and acquaintances – both old and new – sometimes result in misjudgment and betrayal. Which of her friends surprised you? Disappointed you? Who did you peg correctly? Who saddened you? Who lived up to or exceeded your expectations?
(5) When Crispin visits the Tomb of King Tut she makes a promise to the Boy King to find the truth. Does she deliver on that promise?
(6) The story takes place in three different locations: Egypt, London and New York. How do the descriptions of these places contribute to the story tension and suspense?
(7) There is a literary trope that says the final words of a novel are the key to the story. The final words in Digging are: “Let us begin.” What do those words suggest about the future for Crispin Leads?
Book Group Questions: Shrouded
(1) The title, Shrouded, is intended to connote more than one meaning. What dual meanings did you find in the story?
(2) Crispin struggles with self-directed violence also known as self-injurious behavior. The story begins and ends with her holding a razor blade. Discuss whether or not the challenges Crispin faces in the book help her to take ownership of her life.
(3) What does the mystery-thriller genre provide in the telling of Crispin’s story that other genres could not?
(4) The use of strategic silence is a repeated theme. J.D. Moss uses strategic silence when grilling Crispin in hope she will rush in to fill the void. Crispin observes that death screams emerge from silence and recede into silence. What are other examples? Are there other repeated beats or images?
(5) We are often the last to know the emotional reason behind what we do. Does Crispin fully understand why she studies burial rituals? Is it possible for her to find it on tombstones or in Father Macken’s diary?
(6) The Vatican and several European cities vividly capture the mood and feel of Crispin’s journey. Could you imagine this story unfolding in different places?
(7) Before you read Shrouded did you have an opinion about the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin? Have your ideas changed since reading this book?
(8) Does the world need an organization such as IIPASE to police rogue scientific and commercial operations?
(9) Reviewer and author, Bill Johnson, wrote, “Shrouded is a contemporary thriller that addresses the mind and heart.” Do you agree with him? If so, why?
(10) J.R.R. Tolkien said, “Courage is found in unlikely places.” Where did Sister Lew, Roberto and Crispin find courage, and did it make a difference?