Hurricane Book Club

01 May 2016

By Pan Macmillan

Welcome to the Hurricane Book Club - a remote book club running online, in bookshops and libraries across Scotland with special events at Orkney Libraries.

Local book club meetings will take place at participating bookshops and libraries around Scotland.  However, any reader, anywhere can join in just follow and participate in the discussion through Orkney Library’s award-winning twitter account @orkneylibrary and the hashtag #HurricaneBookClub

Our summer Hurricane Book Club pick is None but the Dead by Lin Anderson

When human remains are discovered to the rear of an old primary school, forensic expert Dr Rhona MacLeod and her assistant arrive to excavate the grave. Approaching midwinter, they find daylight in short supply, the weather inhospitable and some of the Sanday island's inhabitants less than co-operative. When the suspicious death of an old man in Glasgow appears to have links with the island, DS Michael McNab is dispatched to investigate. Desperately uncomfortable in such surroundings, he finds that none of the tools of detective work are there. No internet, no CCTV, and no police station.

As the weather closes in, the team - including criminal profiler and Orkney native Professor Magnus Pirie - are presented with a series of unexplained incidents, apparently linked to the discovery of thirteen magic flowers representing the souls of dead children who had attended the island school where the body was discovered. But how and in what circumstance did they die? And why are their long forgotten deaths significant to the current investigation?

As a major storm approaches, bringing gale-force winds and high seas, the islanders turn on one another, as past and present evil deeds collide, and long buried secrets break the surface, along with the exposed bones.

Lin Anderson on her favourite crime books, films and TV series set in her home city of Glasgow

The final Hurricane Book Club pick is The Axeman's Jazz by Ray Celestin.

The Axeman's Jazz book club questions:

1) The Axeman’s Jazz tells the story of three separate investigators all looking for the same killer. Which was your favourite plot-line? How did you find the three strands worked together?

2) Luca d’Andrea could be described as the anti-hero of the book. Did you like or sympathise with him at all?
3) You could say New Orleans itself is a main character of The Axeman’s Jazz. What do you think this added to the novel? Is this something you have noticed in any other books you have read?
4) Louis Armstrong makes his investigatory debut in The Axeman’s Jazz. How do you think including a well-known figure affected your enjoyment of the book?
5) What, to you, is the most integral part of a mystery? Characterization, action, plot twists? How did The Axeman’s Jazz meet your expectations in these areas?
6) ‘The evocative prose brings the jazz-filled, mob-ruled “Big Easy” of pre-prohibition America to life in glorious effect’ (Sunday Express)
How effectively do you think Ray Celestin evoked 1919 New Orleans? Did you learn anything new about the city and its history? What do you like or dislike about books set in other eras?
7) The Axeman’s Jazz is inspired by a real letter sent to a New Orleans newspaper signed by ‘The Axeman’. Does a book being inspired by true events affect your reading experience at all? Did you like or dislike this device, and why?
8) At what point, if at all, did you guess the identity of The Axeman? Were you satisfied with the conclusion?


More about Hurricane Book Club

When is it running?

The first season of the book club will run from January 2016 to June 2016, with three titles specially selected by Pan Macmillan’s Mantle Publisher, Maria Rejt. Each of the three titles has a two-month slot culminating in a special Hurricane Book Club meeting at Orkney Library, with a live broadcast and Twitter discussion @orkneylibrary and via #HurricaneBookClub.

Book club meetings: 

Local book club meetings will take place at participating bookshops and libraries around Scotland. There will be also resource packs available here in the near future, which include full information about the book club titles as well as advice on setting up your own book club. Please drop us an email at if you would like a physical book club pack and to get your meeting listed on the website. The first Orkney Library event is at 7pm on Thursday 25 February 2016, the second at 7pm on Thursday 28 April 2016 and the third is on Thursday 30 June 2016 at 7pm – full details listed soon.

There’s no meeting near me, can I still take part? 

Yes! Any reader, anywhere can join in just follow and participate in the discussion through Orkney Library’s award-winning twitter account @orkneylibrary and the hashtag #HurricaneBookClub

Check back here during each two-month period, there will be lots of blogs, posts, views and insights into these titles and the publishing industry from the authors, the editor, librarians, jacket designers, agents and more as well as, most importantly, readers. 

► Download our tips on how to set up your own  Hurricane Book Club meeting

► Download your own Hurricane Book Club meeting poster 

The second Hurricane Book Club pick is The Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson Ellis. You can find book club questions below, plus tips on how to set up your own book club.

The Other Mrs Walker book club questions:

1) There are lots of mothers in the book, real, acquired and imagined. Who do you think are the best and who the worst? And why?
2) What do you think is gained or lost by the story being told from the perspective of both past and present? Does the time-hopping succeed or is it a distraction?
3) Clementine is 8 years old in 1933 at the time of the first twins' demise and 19 when she disappears in London. How culpable do you think she is in the fate of the whole family? And are children ever to blame for disaster?
4) Indigent funerals and people dying with no  remaining next-of-kin are on the rise across the UK. What might this say about the society we live in now?
5) Margaret (and  Barbara) could ask lots of questions of each other but choose not to. Why is this? And how important is it for us to know everything about our past, or is it better to keep some things hidden?
6) Many of the objects in the book survive across several generations, but not necessarily their significance. What objects might you like to inherit, or leave behind when you die and why? Does it matter if the story they tell is eventually forgotten?
7) What Margaret calls 'the territory of the dead' exists in all towns and cities i.e. mortuaries, crematoriums, funeral directors etc. Why do you think their work is often hidden, when death is a fundamental part of life?
8) Would you ever join an indigent funeral rota?

The first Hurricane Book Club pick is The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter, by Malcolm Mackay.

First up in the Hurricane Book Club is Malcolm Mackay's debut novel The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter. Winner of the ITV3 Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read Award and shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger for Best Debut Crime Novel of the Year, The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter is an arresting, gripping novel of dark relationships and even darker moralities.

The next books to feature will be The Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis and The Axeman's Jazz by Ray Celestin.



Mantle Publisher, Maria Rejt, talks about The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter:

The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter book club questions:

1. The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter is a dark novel set in a dark world. Who did you feel you were rooting for? Did you find yourself rooting for more than one side?

2. Mackay uses an unusual, staccato writing style. How did you feel this affected your reading and the atmosphere of the novel?

3. Mackay gets into the head of lots of different characters over the course of this novel. Who’s view point was your favourite to explore? Did you particularly empathise with any of the characters?

4. The book takes you step by step through the hit on Lewis Winter. What effect did you feel this amount of detail gave? Did you like it?

The Hurricane Book Club is a joint initiative between The Bookseller Industry Awards Library of the Year 2015, Orkney Library & Archive, and Publisher of the Year 2015, Pan Macmillan. The first season of the Hurricane Book Club is supported by Bloody Scotland and the Scottish Book Trust.


You may also like

The Axeman's Jazz
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter
The Other Mrs Walker