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OCU Book Discussion Series Does a Plot Twist

The Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma book discussion series at Oklahoma City University will continue with “Twisted Perception” by Bob Avey at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 in Walker Center room 151.

The discussion series is made possible through a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council.

This year’s series is investigating crime novels that take place in Oklahoma. At each session in the five-part series, a humanities scholar makes a presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussions follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, all participants come together for a brief wrap-up.

“Twisted Perception” is the second big-city mystery in the Detective Elliot mystery series, with all the elements of the contemporary hard-boiled style: graphic descriptions of victims and the sleazy side of town; a police detective who doesn’t mesh with the rest of the department, in part because of his own dark past; chapters that feature the mind of a crazed serial killer; and close encounters between the protagonist and the killer. The novel is unusually detailed on the motivations and minute-by-minute thoughts of the killer, as well as those of his haunted pursuer.

In the book, detective Kenny Elliot has a rerun of bad dreams related to the mysterious death of his high school friends, Jonathan and Marcia, after a night in which he fought with Jonathan and became drunk. Elliot discovered their mutilated bodies and was a suspect, but the deaths were ruled a murder/suicide. Later killings and blood messages—in Stillwater while he was a student and now in Tulsa—point to a serial or copycat killer. It seems the killer is setting up Kenny through a young colleague who wants to rise in the department. Kenny finally has to go rogue to discover the truth back in his hometown of Porter before he can solve the latest string of killings in Tulsa.

Harbour Winn, director of the Center for Interpersonal Study through Film & Literature at OCU, said the reading series moves beyond discussions of the story plotlines and into a cultural study of the places where the stories take place.

“Mystery and investigation stories find a ready home in Oklahoma and provide a window on the character of the state,” Winn said. “Though mainstream novels may evoke only scant

physical description, crime stories and mysteries continue to include realistic location details, precisely because such details may help unravel the crime. In reading these novels, we can rediscover the joys of hearing and seeing people in their natural environment and learn something about how where they are may indicate who they are.”

The final book discussion in this year’s series will be Nov. 11 on “The American Café” by Sara Sue Hoklotubbe.

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