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The Killing Storm: beware spoilers

Thanks to Beverly Martin and Kay Huck for writing these questions:

1. Describe the personality of Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong. Would you like to have her for a friend? Why or why not? What incidents in the story specifically develop her character?

2. What are the conflicts that Sarah experiences; as a mom, a female Ranger; as a lover? Which conflicts could you most easily identify with? Were they resolved?

3. Symbols occupy an important place in most religions and cultures, such as the American Indian nations. How have symbols been used to move along the mystery? Why these particular symbols?

4. How did the relationship between Sarah and David Garrity affect the story?

5. Four-year-old Joey falls victim to his kidnapper. How does the kidnapper trick Joey into trusting him? What feelings do you experience for Joey? His mom? His kidnapper? Yet, Joey isn't the only victim of the kidnapper. What is the first hint the kidnapper may know something about the disappearance of the boy and girl who are now skeletons of interest with the authorities? What fears does this generate in regard to Joey?

6. Joey's mother is distracted from watching him because of talking on a cell phone. During her extended conversation, Joey is kidnapped. Do her actions seem like motherly concern? Why? What do you see as benefits and consequences of cell phone usage?

7. How did you feel toward the grandparents' refusal to help find Joey? What do you think you would have done? How do you think Evan handled the situation with Crystal initially and at the end?

8. Not all mothers love their children. Crystal Warner seemed to be such a mother. If that were truly the case, why would Joey want to go home to her? Have you known anyone like Crystal Warner?

9. Were you surprised at Crystal selling Joey? What motivated her? Why do you think Peter Benoit approached her? Crystal thought she could outsmart the police and chose to bargain with them without a lawyer present. How did her husband entice her to plea bargain with the police? What character flaws caused her to feel this way?

10. What role did the killing of Buckshot play? Was his sacrifice justified? Why or why not?

11. Were you deceived by Peter Benoit? Did you pick up on clues throughout the book? Do you think Peter Benoit will become Sarah's nemesis?

12. Setting is important in a story. Would you consider Hurricane Juanita a character in The Killing Storm? Why or why not? How did the eminent hurricane influence the urgency of the story? How did you feel during Sarah's rush to downtown Houston during the hurricane?

13. After reading The Killing Storm, the reader learns the importance of research, keen observation, and organization in solving a crime. Which of these elements seems most beneficial to Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong's work? Why?

14. Kathryn Casey has maintained tension throughout The Killing Storm. How has she maintained this tension? Which conflict -- kidnapping, Hurricane Juanita, longhorn slaughter, David Garrity - seems to be hardest for Sarah Armstrong to deal with? Why?

15. Kathryn Casey also writes true crime books. How does this influence her fiction? Did you notice any realistic events in the story? Which ones?

16. At the end of The Killing Storm, Sarah Armstrong has much to ponder - David Garrity returning to Denver, the kidnapper/killer still at large, skeletons of two children unidentified. Where would you like to see Kathryn Casey take you in her next book? Why?