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1. When eight-year-old Zeffie Adams walks into Christy Castleman's shop to sell her jewelry box, Zeffie inspires Christy to help her. As the story progresses, Zeffie's effervescent personality touches everyone she meets. How would you react to her? Do you believe God places certain people in your life for a special purpose? Can you share an experience supporting this belief? 2. Zeffie's jewelry box opens a cold case that turns Christy's comfortable world upside down. She faces a tough decision. Should she honor her parents' request not to get involved? Or is she justified in helping find the killer of the friend who saved her life? Was Christy wrong to go against her parents' request? What would you have done? What circumstances do you feel justify going against parental wishes? 3. In today's society, are people more inclined not to get involved in a controversial situation? When do you believe one should speak or act on another's behalf? Give an example of how you, or someone you know, took a risk and got involved. When is "getting involved" inappropriate? What guidelines do Scriptures provide? 4.
In cozy mysteries, authors use a lighter touch for planting clues in a murder, which must happen "off stage", before the story begins or as it unfolds. In When Zeffie Got a Clue, I set up a round-robin of one character's suspicion against another in order to plant clues. In addition to being suspicious, one might conclude that April, Tex, Sheryl and Reuben are disreputable characters. By the end of the story, however, we begin to see goodness and mercy in the hearts of most characters. Explore and define some verses that advise us not to judge others. Are there extenuating circumstances that warrant judgment? 5. Readers of cozy mysteries expect humorous quirky characters. In the Summer Breeze series, I wanted to inject humor while adding a gentle message of faith. Since there are very serious tones to the novel, I attempted to balance sadness with humor through Jack, Bobbie, Miz B, Seth and Big Bob. Even Christy and Dan add flashes of wit during difficult times. Which characters resonated with you, and in what way did they strengthen your faith? 6. Throughout the Summer Breeze series, Christy gets a second chance to love again.
Dan Brockman's kindness and unconditional love resolve Christy's deep-rooted fear of losing someone she loves. By guarding her heart, she risked losing Dan. Discuss Proverbs 4:23. What does this verse mean to you in terms of guarding your heart? How could you use this verse and Christy's hard-earned victory to improve your relationships? 7. Many characters in When Zeffie Got a Clue faced roadblocks to their plans for the future, leading them instead on a different journey. Has this happened to you? The disciples sacrificed their futures to follow Jesus. Do you believe the roadblocks in life's journey serve as building blocks for Christian character? Has this happened to you? Discuss. 8. Scripture warns us that in this world there will be trouble. Almost every character in When Zeffie Got a Clue encountered faith-testing challenges, yet each reacted differently. Discuss whose behavior mirrored faith and hope and whose did not. Give examples of how you responded to a life-changing challenge or tragedy. Find Scriptural guidelines to overcome the difficulties of life. Consider starting a prayer journal so you can track the way God answers prayers. 9.
Seth is a rebellious character in the beginning of the series. In When Zeffie Got a Clue, Seth achieves a comfortable balance in meeting his parents' expectations while maintaining his own identity. Do you feel we can meet the expectations of others, while being true to ourselves? Discuss. 10. In the final chapter, Christy endures the most terrifying hour of her life. In the midst of her fear, she cried out to God. What verse(s) would you draw on if you were frightened?
Peggy Darty is the award-winning author of twenty-seven books, including two other cozy mysteries set in Summer Breeze, Florida: "When the Sandpiper Calls "and "When Bobbie Sang the Blues." She has worked in film, researched for CBS, and led writing workshops around the country. Darty and her husband call Alabama home but spend a great deal of time in Colorado, Montana, and on Florida's Emerald Coast.