Discussion Questions

If you are choosing either Deadly Relations or No Way to Die for your book club, here are some questions you might like to consider. Have fun with them!


  1. What was your initial reaction to the story?
    • What three words would you use to best describe this book?
  2. What was your favorite moment in the book? Your least favorite?
  3. Consider the historical setting, late 14th century China, in which the story is set.
    • How important was it to the plot of the book?
    • To the characters?
  4. Did you know about the time period or Chinese culture and society before you read this book?
    • If so, did you learn anything new?
    • If not, did you feel you came away with a greater understanding of this particular time and place in history?
  5. Could the story have taken place in any other time or country?
  6. What was your favorite scene in the book?
  7. What surprised you the most when you were reading this book?
  8. What themes interested you in the story?
    1. Are any of these themes still current today?
  9. If there had not been a crime in Hong Shu-chang’s village and his father and uncle had not died, how do you think the story would be different?
  10. The novel was told from the point of view of two protagonists, Hong Shu-chang (an itinerant scholar and the Xin clan teacher) and Xin Xiang-hua (the young women’s doctor).
    • How did that affect the story and your appreciation of the book?
    • Could the story have been told from one protagonist’s perception only? How would that change affect the story?
  11. What about the characters?
    • Did they remind you of anyone?
    • Which character in the story did you relate to most and what was it about him or her that you connected with?
  12. How about the ending?
    • How did you feel about it?
    • That is, what did you like or not like?
  13. Did the book change your opinion or perspective about anything?
    • Do you feel different now than you did before you read it?
  14. What do you think your lasting impression of the book will be?