Book Club Discussion Questions

Questions for Discussion: Necessary Ends

1. Tai is the owner/operator of a gun shop that caters to Civil War reenactors. What are the social and moral challenges that come with such an inheritance? Does the fact that it's in the South make a difference?

2. Tai would not consider herself to be a typical investigator. Do you agree? Which traits are most useful? Which ones are most problematic?

3. In the opening scene, Tai is attempting to work through her psychological challenges by volunteering at a SWAT training. Does this approach work? What does she learn throughout the book about her own psychological triggers?

4. As an amateur sleuth, Tai has no real authority to investigate any crimes. Why do you think she does so?

5. Tai is the narrator of this story, but Trey is the driver of the plot. He not exactly an amateur, but he’s no longer a law enforcement officer either. How does this affect his investigation?

6. The dynamic between Tai and Trey is often tension-filled, yet they seem to work well together. Why do you think that is?

7.  William Faulkner said, "The past is never dead. It isn't even past." How do the events in both Trey and Tai's past affect their decisions in this present investigation?

8. Trey is an unusual sleuth--his most useful skill, his ability to detect lies, is also his biggest handicap, especially socially. How does this paradox play out in his investigation, and in his relationship with Tai?

9. The major friendships in this story--between Tai and Rico, between Trey and Keesha, between Trey and Garrity--are somewhat strained. Does this affect how Tai and Trey proceed with their investigations? With each other?

10. Trey's ability to function in the world depends on his ability to inhabit an identity very different from his life before the car accident, an identity he created himself from a magazine. Is this a process unique to him? Or do we all choose our personas? Are we all actors in our own lives, playing roles that we wrote ourselves?

11. In his work as both a SWAT cop and a premises liability agent, Trey thinks about spaces (empty and otherwise) very differently than most people. What spaces exist in the story, and what meanings to Trey and Tai attribute to them?

12. Anger--and how people deal with it both constructively and not-so-constructively--is an important part of each character's identity. It influences how they see themselves and affects the choices they all make throughout the story. What are some of the things that make Tai and Trey angry? How do they deal with it?

13. Trust is a limited--and complicated--resource for both Tai and Trey. What does it mean to each of them? Do their definitions contradict? Does it work differently in their romantic relationship than it does in their crime-solving partnership?

14. Tai comments that many of the suspects in the film-making world seem so convinced of their made-up reality that they are impervious to actual reality: is this a valid observation? Or is this something we all do?

15. The South is often perceived as a rural place without a lot of diversity, but Atlanta bucks these expectations by being both urban and diverse. How do these ideas about “the South” play out against its reality? How does the Atlanta setting differ from the Adairsville setting where the final scenes take place?

16. Reminders of the South’s history—especially that of the American Civil War and of Atlanta’s key role in the Civil Rights movement—are everywhere in the city. As a former tour guide, Tai finds such history fascinating, but how does history play a larger role in understanding contemporary life, especially in criminal justice matters?

17. Tai's choice at the end of the book has been a long time coming--do you think she'll be successful? What challenges do you foresee for her as she begins this new chapter in her life?

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