Discussion Questions for Life Without Shoes
Right from the beginning, you learn that Father Ambrose and Mother Francine live a different kind of life. What was your response to that life?
The writing world often prescribes that a “cozy”-style mystery should only have violence occur “off-screen.” In this book, that rule is somewhat broken with the appearance of Thea Truman’s body in a bag. How did you feel about this amount of “gore?” What would you have changed?
Sheriff Cormley plays a role almost as strong as Father Ambrose. What did you like best about his character? What did you like least? His world revolves around the Sheriff’s Office with Gus Friedholm and the others, and at home, with his wife Ruth. How is his life different from Ambrose’s? Are there any similarities?
New Life Ecumenical Retreat is a counterpoint to the larger Green Butte community, brought into focus by the demonstration outside their gates and John Redmond’s reasons for dumping the body there. Why do you think those tensions exist? Did they ring a bell with anything in your world?
New Life’s way of life revolves around a meditation program three times a day. If you meditate, did you feel a connection with what they were doing? If you don’t meditate, did the book make you curious about it? Were there any aspects of their world that rang a bell or piqued your interest?
John Redmond is the kind of person you could describe as “a lost ball in high weeds.” How did you feel about his character and the decisions he made? Did he change for you over the course of the book?
Sandy Golden’s character isn’t very likable. How did you feel about the ambiguous ending for him? Was it believable that his moneyed connections might be able to get him off? Did you have any sympathy for him?
Father Ambrose goes through some changes over the course of the book. One is that he has an intuitive experience that he doesn’t care for and takes to Mother Francine for some help. How did you feel about that one and its connection to anything in your world? What other circumstances do you remember that caused him to grow and change? How did you feel about his growth as a character?
The epilogue was meant to give you a “wrap” for the story. Did it do that for you? What alternative endings can you imagine for the story?
Some readers have plowed through the book in one sitting, while others have found it a leisurely read. How did you feel about the book overall? How is it similar to and different from other mysteries you’ve enjoyed?