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Book Club Kits: The Serialist

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

Harry Bloch is a struggling writer who pumps out pulpy serial novels—from vampire books to detective stories—under various pseudonyms. But his life begins to imitate his fiction when he agrees to ghostwrite the memoir of Darian Clay, New York City’s infamous Photo Killer. Soon, three young women turn up dead, each one murdered in the Photo Killer’s gruesome signature style, and Harry must play detective in a real-life murder plot as he struggles to avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.

Witty, irreverent, and original, The Serialist is a love letter to books—from poetry to pornography—and proof that truth really can be stranger than fiction.

Discussion Questions

  • The Serialist has been described as “a love letter to books—from poetry to pornography—and proof that truth really can be stranger than fiction.”  Would you agree with this statement?  Why or why not?

  • What are the moral/ethical complications that might arise from writing a biography of a serial killer?  Do you think authors who write these types of books have any obligation to the victims of the crimes?  Why or why not?

  • Throughout the book, we are given excerpts from Harry Bloch’s pseudonyms’ novels.  Do you think this is an effective literary tool?  Why or why not?  Does it provide insight into Harry’s character or into the plot of the novel?

  • Who was your favorite character?  Least favorite?  Are the characters believable?

  • Discuss the various relationships between Harry and the women in his life.  How do these relationships affect him?

  • At one point in the novel, Harry, Claire, and Dani discuss the various types of fictional detectives.  What type of detective do you think Harry qualifies as?  Is he an effective detective?

  • How does the use of dark humor in the novel work with the darker subject matter?  Is it effective in countering some of the more violent and gruesome nature of the work?  Why or why not?

  • Discuss Gordon’s red herrings and plot twists.  Were you able to predict the identity of the killer?  Do you feel his twists were true to the story, or did they come out of nowhere?  Why or why not?