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A big thank you to Beverly Martin for contributing to this book club guide. (If you haven't read the book yet, be careful: there are spoilers below.)

1) Mystery writers drop clues throughout their writings which the astute reader will recognize. In hindsight, what did you pay little attention to that became important at the end of the book? What clues did Kathryn Casey weave into the plot?

2) What is it about law enforcement that drew Sarah to a career as a Texas Ranger? What do profilers do? How do you view her initial contribution as a profiler to the Lucas investigation?

3) What difficulties do women face when working in what's traditionally a man's field? Are the challenges Sarah faces unique to law enforcement or are women in many fields still treated differently in the workplace? In what other professions? Can you think of an example from your personal work experience?

4) In Sarah’s world, there are turf wars between agencies, from the local police departments to the rangers to the FBI. Is that unusual to law enforcement, or do you see examples of such infighting in your everyday life? Was this partly what led to the lack of information sharing in 9/11? Why do you believe people do this, refusing to work for the good of the whole to protect their small piece of the pie?

5) Sarah and Maggie Armstrong have suffered a devastating loss, the death of Sarah's husband, Bill, Maggie's father. How does this affect their relationship? Has Sarah experienced so much pain that she fails to see the depth of Maggie's grief? How could Sarah have reacted or what could she have done that might have made a difference for her daughter?

6) We all cope with emotions in our individual ways. Sarah's mother bakes when she is nervous or angry. Sarah likes to unwind and be alone in her home workshop/studio. To ease her pain, Maggie wants the tree lighted. What is it about lighting the corral elm tree that gives Maggie a sense of peace? How do you work through your emotions/frustrations?

7) Murder investigations today are a combination of forensics and old-fashioned police work. What Sarah does in the Big Thicket, going door to door looking for sources or clues, is called gumshoeing. Police have been doing it for centuries, hitting the pavement to get answers, and it often yields clues as or more important than DNA. Yet the contribution of modern forensic evidence has changed law enforcement forever. In the Lucas case, what plays the most important role? Or are both facets equally important? Why?

8) How do you view the relationship between Sarah and David? Is it one of convenience/opportunity or do you believe it has possibilities for the future? What draws them together? What is Maggie picking up on that clues her into the relationship? Is Sarah moving too quickly? Why?

9) Does Sarah do the right thing when she follows her conscience and goes public with the information that there is a serial killer on the loose? Why? How did this backfire on her? Were there other alternatives? What are they? What would you have done?

10) Do you believe evil exists in the world? Define evil as you see it. What do you see as the primary factors that turn individuals into monsters like the killer in the book? What should be done to prevent this? Is that possible? If you knew a child was emotionally disturbed and you feared that child would become violent, what would you do? Anything?

11) Does Sarah unwittingly set into motion the events at the end of the book? Should she have seen it coming? Could she have prevented Maggie’s and Nora’s involvements? Is what happened ultimately her own fault? What should she have done differently? Why?

12) With Gabriel in her sights, Sarah hesitates, not wanting to pull the trigger with her daughter watching. Is this a sign of weakness or something else? What is Sarah afraid of? What would you have done?