I’ve been lucky enough to be a member of various book groups over the years. A few people have told me that they’re reading In Bitter Chill in their own book club or reading group. To help along discussions I’ve put together some questions that I often raise when I have my own library and bookshop events. I hope you find them helpful.
1. In Bitter Chill narrates the investigation from two viewpoints: the police and Rachel’s. Why do you think the writer decided to do this?
2. Family history plays an important role in the plot. Why do you Rachel concentrates on the matrilineal (female) line in her researches?
3. Can you think of any other instances where a family secret might reverberate down generations?
4. The fictional town of Bampton is depicted as a small tight-knit community. How important is this for what happens? Could the kidnapping and its after-effects have taken place anywhere else?
5. The cold of a Derbyshire winter is depicted in the book. What’s the relationship between the climate and the narrative?
6. Rachel and Sophie are abducted while walking to school in the 1970s. To what extent have children’s freedoms been restricted since this time?
7. The author has three police main characters investigate the deaths. Why do you think she decided to do this rather than focus on a single detective?
8. Rachel displays an ambivalent attitude towards her childhood friend, Sophie. She is resentful that it was Sophie who got in the car first but has lived with a sense of continuing loss. What is causing this ambivalence?