Book Club Guide

Tainted Justice by V. M. Gopaul –
Book Club Discussion Questions

Use the questions and ideas listed below to inform and ignite discussions within your book club. Pick and choose 6- 10 points to touch on during the course of your talk. This is by no means an exhaustive list so feel free to add your own ideas to your club’s exchange.

Breaking the Ice:

As an established book club you may have already formed a routine or ritual for starting your discussions. However, if you are still working to find the right rhythm for your group consider the questions below as possible starting points.

· Comment on the relevance and impact of the book cover in relation to the title and/or the overall story.
· Offer a famous quote to spark thoughts on the correlation between the novel and society:
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” Dalai Lama
“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” Friedrich Nietzsche
“The fight for justice against corruption is never easy. It never has been and never will be.
It exacts a toll on our self, out families, our friends, and especially our children. In the end,
I believe, as in my case, the price we pay is well worth holding on to our dignity.” Frank Serpico
· Discuss the author’s biography and whether or not you can see him reflected in his own story (www.vmgopaul.com).

Character Connection:

It is often disputed which is more valuable to a story: connection with the characters or a dynamic plot arc? Pick and choose from the various questions below and see where your connections take you.

· Who is your favourite character? Is there a major or minor presence who speaks to your sensibilities? What specifically has drawn you in to a kindred-ship with that character?
· Does Jason’s unconscious dwell on the events surrounding his father’s death and push him/impact his decisions throughout the novel?
· Discuss the impact of the presence or lack of love on decision making regarding Jason, Roger, Shallen, and Kara.
· Does Sallen’s motivation ‘ring true’ as a strong single female reporter? How does her background reveal insight into her actions throughout the novel?
· Is there growth in Jason’s character throughout the novel – consider both main and subplots and whether the presence or lack of growth builds integrity into the fabric of his personality.
· Define ‘modern evil’ as a group. Does any one character embody the contemporary equivalent of evil? Who are the villains and what contributes to their believability?
· Which minor character would you have liked to learn more about and why?

Plotting It Out:

The building of a cohesive plot demands time and attention not only to the overall story arc but to each brick a chapter lays into the mortar of connectivity. Take a moment to reflect on the various densities of the building blocks used to develop the structure of this story.

· Discuss how chapter one is a microcosm of the entire novel. What comparisons can be drawn from Brian’s last act to correlate metaphorically with other conclusive elements at the end of the story?
· How does point of view/perspective alter reader rationality toward the situations presented (job loss/doing business – Softek employees vs. Muhtar Gamble or running a competitive campaign/manipulation – Senator Quest vs. Roger Hunt or P. I. Volpa)?
· Is there a point at which you anticipated the plot to travel in a different direction? What were the markers (points in the writing) that allowed you to believe a different path was possible? Were you happy with the path the story took?
· Which was the most thrilling chapter/scene that compelled you to read on? Does the author repeat this pattern to the same or similar effect with any other scene?
· Discuss how the structure of perspective developed the plot. Consider what could have been lost or gained by limiting the point of view to one character.

Setting the Mood:

Time, location, and atmosphere are integral elements in any story. Frequently key elements of character development or understanding are revealed by internal reflection about where they are. How a particular location describes a sense or feeling is often later explored by or discovered by either a character or the reader to bring bearing on understanding in a given scene.

· It can be said of some novels that setting is a character or directly reflects a given character. Which setting in the book best highlights one of the characters so as to act as an extension of their personality?
· Corvallis is Jason’s home. How has the author created a deep sense of attachment to this town and its people? Would you be able to give up a town you lived in for thirty years – why or why not? Is this an expectation of the current times?
· Describe the irony of Volpa’s chosen office location and how it colours or informs upon the main theme of the novel – the title of the book?

Mirroring Reality:

Books of all fiction genres (and some non-fiction) from contemporary political thrillers to magical fantasy all relate back to the world that we know. Basic concepts and themes such as good vs. evil, love & hate, justice and self-discovery are imbedded within our daily lives. It is often the task of a writer to bring these ideas to the forefront set in a different light in order to allow readers to consider various ideas.

Consider the major societal disruptions below and how Tainted Justice could act as a mirror to the realities of our world:

· The Watergate Scandal – The Nixon administration’s attempted cover up of a break-in at the democratic national committee’s headquarters. 1972
· The Keating Five Scandal – Five US Senators were accused of corruption when they prevented Charles Keating, Chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, from being audited in return for campaign funding. 1989
· Operation Ruby – The newspaper News of the World hacked missing girl Milly, Amanda, Dowler’s cell phone, giving false hope that the adolescent was still alive and receiving messages. The horrified British public contributed to the closure of the newspaper and ignited investigations into phone hacking and media ethics. 2002
· RBC Job Outsourcing Blow up – When the Royal Bank of Canada chose to combine outsourcing IT jobs to lower cost countries with using temporary foreign “guest” workers to avoid paying Canadian Labour Law wages they ignited controversy. 2013

Gut Reactions:

When you are able to identify with or react against events or people in a story likely you will feel an instinctual response. These guttural and reactive moments are excellent places to bring a discussion. What may begin with a simple comment or statement can explode into several avenues of discovery.

· What did you like or dislike? Explore the root of your feelings and discuss the possibility of how others might react oppositely to the same elements.
· What were your expectations of the novel? Did it live up to them? Had you read any reviews prior to reading the book which may have helped develop those expectations? Do you agree with the reviewers?
· Would might you gift this book to and why? Would you keep it for yourself instead of gifting it? If you could only keep half of your current book collection, would Tainted Justice make the final cut?
· After reading the book, do you feel ‘changed’ in any way? Has your range of experience or have your assumptions been challenged? Are you better able to understand a particular person or situation better now?
· What do you think would happen next in the fictional lives of the characters? Do you think the author will plan for a sequel?
· Compare this book with other thrillers you have read or books focusing around similar themes.

“The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.”
James Bryce

Guide Organized by:
Melissa Moores, OCT
Writer/Teacher/Editor/Publicist