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Cruel Intentby J. A. Jance
Reading Group Guide
1. Ali doesn't know Bryan Forester very well, and yet she's convinced he's innocent of his wife's murder. What makes her believe in him? Why does the rest of the community, people who have known Bryan his whole life, assume he's guilty?
2. When discussing her second husband, Ali always uses his full name: Paul Grayson. Why does she do this? Considering their history, is this a defense mechanism?
3. "I always tried to raise him to be independent, Ali thought ruefully. I may have succeeded too well" (pg. 88). How would you describe the various parent-child relationships in Cruel Intent? Consider Ali and Chris, Ali and her parents, Bryan and his daughters, Leland's friend Prescott and his children, amongst others. Which emotions are driving factors in these relationships?
4. In her video on Singleatheart.com, Morgan Forester says she doesn't want to go to her grave wondering about the Peggy Lee song "Is That All There Is." Does the video provide honest insight into Morgan's life, or is it another one of her manipulations? Which other characters might wonder is that all there is?
5. Describe Ali's relationship with Dave Holman. Is he jealous when she defends Bryan? If so, is that one of the reasons he's convinced of Bryan's guilt?
6. Why does Ali turn down work offers from her agent, Jacky? What does she want to do with her life?
7. What drives the killer and how does he choose his victims?
8. "The truth was, Ali wanted to go, too. Bryan Forester was part of her life; so were his girls. If there was anything she personally could do to help them, she would" (pg. 195). There are many other people Ali is quick to help. Is this simply her nature, or has she learned to relate to those in need of help? When should she volunteer, and when should she allow people to protect themselves?
9. What do Ali and Leland mean to each other? Why does he keep his feelings about her somewhat secret from Ali?
10. In the end, is the killer more upset that he was caught, or that he was caught by a woman?
Enhance Your Book Club:
Ali Reynolds is not the only one who keeps a blog. To learn more about J.A. Jance, visit her blog at: http://www.jajance.com/jajance.com/Blog/Blog.html
The Sugar Loaf Café is the hub of activity in Cruel Intent. Hold your book club meeting at a local, old-fashioned café or diner. Or better yet — try J.A. Jance's Sugar Loaf Sweet Role recipe available at: http://www.jajance.com/jajance.com/Sugar_Loaf_Cafe/Sugar_Loaf_Cafe.html
Morgan Forester claims Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is" inspired her to seek something more out of life. Find a recording of the song and play it before your meeting. Which songs might inspire other characters?
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