General issues raised in the book
- Relationships between mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters
- False confessions—what prompts them, what follows them
- Forgiveness and atonement
- How grieving affects the bereft and those around them
Questions related to the characters and plot
- Why does Phoenix feel compelled to investigate even though that work isn’t part of the foundation’s function? Does Connie have the same motives?
- Why did Phoenix and Connie hide the investigation from Annalynn? Would she have approved the application?
- The all-male officers suspected Jolene immediately. Why? Would a female officer or attorney have reacted the same way?
- What prompted Jolene’s confessions? Why didn’t Beatrix fight harder to nullify the plea bargain?
- Phoenix and Connie present different perspectives on the contract the college has offered Connie. How would you recommend she deal with it?
- Annalynn worries more about the burglaries than Phoenix does. Why doesn’t Phoenix take them more seriously?
- Does Phoenix bear some responsibility for the second murder?
- People express different opinions of Jolene. How would you describe her?
- How are the three major characters’ relationships with one another changing?