River of Secrets: Discussion Questions

  1. When the Chief of Police is explaining to Wallace how he wants her to handle the investigation of the Marioneaux murder, he tells her: "I'm counting on you to understand, in very practical terms, the difference between a rush to judgment and a sprint to the truth." Which of her personal traits aided Wallace in fulfilling this mandate? What external forces hindered her? Would the political climate in Baton Rouge have been a help or a hindrance or both?
  2. How do you feel about Eddie Pitkin's particular quest for social justice?
  3. Photographs and videos play a pivotal role at several points in the story. How did Davis McCone's 'gift' of the old photograph of himself and Wallace's mother affect your view of him?
  4. Several of Wallace's relationships with other women are important to the plot: Carol Hartman (her mother), LeAnne Hawkins (her detective partner), Melissa Voorhees (the police chief in Cavanaugh), and MaryBeth Duncan (the property management agent in New Roads). But, what did these relationships also reveal about Wallace, as a character, and the world she inhabits?
  5. Two mother-and-child relationships figure prominently in the story: Wallace and her mother Carol, and Glenn Marioneaux and his mother Dorothy. What struck you as the most significant features of these?
  6. How did the discovery that the principal villain had a secret life change your perspective on his words and actions before that?
  7. Herbert Marioneaux claimed he had changed from being a committed segregationist to a believer in and proponent of racial, social, and political equality. Why was the general public so reluctant to believe that his changes were genuine? Had he evolved in the other direction, do you think people would have been as reluctant to believe him?
  8. Herbert Marioneaux's wife, his son, and Garrett Landry, his legislative aide, paint very different pictures of him. How does it happen that one person can be so different to so many people? How does your impression of Marioneaux change throughout the story?