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Readers’ Guide

Elvis and the Dearly Departed

A Southern Cousins Mystery


Suggested discussion questions:


  1. In what ways does Peggy Webb use Elvis as omniscient narrator? To create humor? How does the author set him up in those roles?
  2. How would the story change if Peggy had told it through the traditional and more remote third-person, past tense point of view? What would be lost? Gained?
  3. Peggy carefully sets up the dynamics of the Valentine family. What is Callie’s relationship to her mother? Her uncle? Her cousin? Jack? Her dog?
  4. Discuss the distinguishing characteristics of Peggy Webb’s voice? If you have read Driving Me Crazy, compare her voice in Elvis and the Dearly Departed with her voice in that or any of her other NEXT novels.
  5. Describe the funniest scene(s) in this novel.
  6. In what ways does the absent character, Michael Valentine, influence Callie? Ruby Nell? Uncle Charlie?
  7. Elvis clearly defines his role. What is it? How does his opinion of his role differ from Callie’s?
  8. Who is your favorite character? Why?
  9. This novel has three distinct settings. Discuss how each one enhances the story.
  10. Cite evidence of Peggy’s love of gardening and music in Elvis and the Dearly Departed.
  11. Tidbits of the Elvis’ legend are peppered throughout this story. Find examples. How many of his song titles did you find?
  12. Discuss the significance of Callie’s Dodge Ram.
  13. Peggy grew up on a farm. How does she use the Valentine farm in this story? What is the significance of the farm for Callie? Ruby Nell? Lovie? Charlie?
  14. Uncle Charlie is the rock, the safe haven, for the entire Valentine family. What Shakespearean quotes did he use? Why do you think he uses quotes to deal with difficult situations?
  15. Discuss the minor characters. Which ones would you like to see have more significant roles in future books of the Southern Cousins Mystery Series?

    Book Two of the Series: Elvis and the Grateful Dead, coming in ‘09

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