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This reading group guide forGoldincludes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Lisa Lutz. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
In this sixth (!) document of the Spellman series, Isabel is back and things are as normal as ever: she’s being framed for embezzlement, her boss is being sabotaged while losing his memory to Alzheimer’s, her sister is running an unethical side business, her parents won’t talk to her, and her ex-boyfriend is engaged and knocking at her door. Can Izzy put all the pieces back together before she loses everything? Who will have The Last Word? Find out in this continuation of Lisa Lutz’s charming, madcap, award-nominated sleuth series.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. As Isabel goes under for the bone marrow extraction, do you truly believe that her heaviest investigating days are behind her? (And considering Rae’s afterword, do you think Isabel will ever regain that classic Izzy energy?)
2. Discuss Izzy’s semi-romantic relationships in The Last Word (Henry, Damien, and Max.) With whom are there the most sparks? Do you trust her and Henry to honor their handshake? Do you think Max (and Claire) is a good match for Isabel?
3. Who was your prime suspect for the embezzling and drugging of Slayter? Were you surprised by the identity of the perp(s)?
4. Given Rae’s new stake in Spellman Investigations, do you believe the firm has a future? Can her new CRS branch of the business coexist with traditional Spellman work?
5. Do you think Isabel’s new living arrangements at the story’s end will force her to act more like an adult? Are her days of goldfish and cheap whiskey behind her?
6. What was your favorite case in The Last Word, and why? Possibilities include Lightning Fast Movers, Ethan’s mysterious trouble, Rae’s CRS business, the embezzling, Divine Strategies, Edward’s drugging, and the Washburn case. Do you think Izzy despises Princess Banana as much as she lets on? Is it possible she was secretly a little happy to be ambushed with babysitting Sydney and Claire? What kind of mom would Isabel make?
7. Did you think Isabel’s parents were overly harsh in their stonewalling of her, or did Isabel’s coup warrant the pajama-and-silence treatment?
8. Discuss Izzy’s relationship with Slayter. Has working with him been beneficial for her personal development? Do you think she’ll continue to jog?
9. Did you think Damien was somehow involved in the embezzling and corporate sabotage? Why do you think he lied to Isabel?
10. Would you have slashed Lorre’s tires, too?
11. Is Rae the next Izzy? Would you be interested in a Spellman case with her at the helm?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Izzy takes Damien on her perfect tour of the Bay Area—with stops at all the places notorious for crimes, murders, and scandal. Research and discuss similar spots in your neck of the woods. Are there any locations famed for their dark history?
2. What would be the three words you’d give Edward to remember?
3. List and discuss the sorts of situations (hypothetical or real) that might require a CRS. Has anything happened to you that called for Rae’s particular brand of justice?
4. Visit LisaLutz.com to read her blogs, catch up on previous cases, and even have Lisa herself (possibly) call in to chat with your book club!
The Interrogation: Lisa Lutz, author of The Last Word
1. Are any of the cases in The Last Word based on real-world crimes?
I didn’t knowingly mine any specific real-life cases for the ones in the book. But I’m sure there are similar cases out there.
2. Along those same lines, how much research goes into creating Izzy’s investigative to-do list?
I’m not a huge fan of research, but sometimes you get an idea and then you realize you don’t know anything. Like I don’t know anything about acute myeloid leukemia. So research had to be done. I’m not saying I did it.
3. Is The Last Word really the last word? Has the Izzy we’ve known and loved really grown up?
I’ve said this before (I think in Document #2): I don’t think people really grow up. But she’s evolved some. Those are two separate questions. I don’t plan on writing another novel in Isabel Spellman’s voice. I feel like she’s said all she needs to say. But you’ll hear from her in other ways.
4. Would you consider starting a spinoff series about Rae’s CRS business?
I’ll say this much: there will be at least one book from Rae’s point of view. I, personally, think she has a solid business model. So expect more than one.
5. Which Spellman character do you relate to the most?
Cousin Francesca Spellman. She lives in a Tuscan villa and married well. She spends her days drinking wine and eating really good food and she has the awesomest metabolism. (Technically, we have nothing in common, but it would be nice if we did.)
6. Is there really a wrong way to eat a Mission burrito?
There are a million wrong ways. I don’t have room here to get into the finer points of burrito management, but in short, if you’re not in any danger of staining anything or looking like a pig, you’re doing it wrong.
7. If someone, hypothetically speaking, had a problem that required less-than-delicate handling of a less-than-decent landlord, would you be able to recommend a CRS? If not, how good are you with a whipped cream canister?
Yes, and pretty good. Actually, that’s a lie. My penmanship with a pen is awful; I can’t imagine it would be any better with a can of Reddi-wip. Then again, how hard is it to mess up FU?
8. Do you see a future for Max and Isabel? Rae doesn’t seem to think it’ll last.
Rae doesn’t know everything. I have a good feeling about Max and Isabel.
9. What are your feelings about jogging? Be honest.
I have a love/hate relationship with jogging. We’re currently broken up.
10. What lies in store for the Spellman clan? Do they have a future?
You do know they’re not real, right? But, yes, they have a future.
Lisa Lutz is the author of the New York Times bestselling, Edgar Award– and Macavity Award–nominated, and Alex Award–winning Spellman Files series and the novels How to Start a Fire and The Passenger. She lives and works in upstate New York.