Lea Wait

Discussion Guide: Shadows at the Fair
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Author’s Note:

Anyone looking for the Rensselaer County Spring Antiques Fair will, I’m afraid, search in vain. But … if you’d like to attend an antiques show remarkably similar to the show described in Shadows at the Fair, try the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair, which is held three times a year, on Memorial Day Weekend, in July, and on Columbus Day weekend at the Duchess County Fairground. I had a booth at the spring and fall Rhinebeck shows for thirty years, and, although so far as I know there has never been a murder there … who knows what will happen next year? Shadows at the Fair was the first book I wrote, and it was great fun to set it at a place I knew and loved so much!

Questions and Topics for Discussion:

Antique prints are described at the beginning of each chapter of Shadows at the Fair. Do the prints have any relationship to the events in the chapter? Why do you think the author included that information in the book?

Shadows at the Fair takes place within a little over 48 hours, in the tradition of English manor house mysteries: a small group of people are relatively isolated, the reader knows one of those people is the murderer, and the crime must be solved before everyone heads for home Sunday night. Is the author successful in keeping within the confines of this formula?

The antique dealers at the show – Maggie Summer, Gussie White, Joe Cousins, Susan and Harry Findley, Lydia and Abe Wyndham, Will Brewer – all come from very different backgrounds. How did their backgrounds influence their choice of antique specialty? Their lifestyles? Did the variety of dealers’ lives surprise you?

The author frequently leaves her focus on solving the crime to relate information related to antiques. Did you find this interesting, or distracting?

In some cases, the information about the antiques DID relate to the crimes. At what point in the book did you realize that?

In Shadows at the Fair two major characters have disabilities; Gussie has post polio syndrome, and Ben has Down Syndrome. Did you feel their characters were credible? Were you comfortable with how they were portrayed?

In the final chapter Gussie called Lydia’s and Abe’s actions “a strange crusade.” How did you feel about their characters? Their motivation?

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