City of Peace

Book Club Questions


  1. What was your experience of City of Peace? Did the story grab you immediately, or did it take a while to hook you? At what point in the book were you the most engaged? What feelings did it evoke: Sympathy, anger, fear, frustration, anxiety, grief, compassion, hope, peace, or something else? What three words would you use to describe the book?
  2. Which main character seemed the most real to you: Harley Camden, Tim Underwood, Youssef Ayad, Sofia Ayad, Muhammad Bayati, Omar Bayati, Dirk Carter, Matt Carter, Leah Silverman, Tawnya Jones, Jefferson Jones, or another character? Describe their personalities and their motivations. Do their actions make sense, and are they justified? Why or why not?
  3. How do the main characters grow and change over the course of the book? What do they learn about themselves and the world around them? How did the characters affect each other? Where did you see similarities between the characters and real people you know?
  4. How would you describe the plot? Was it driven more by events or by the interaction between characters? How would you describe the pace of the book? Were you surprised by its twists and turns, or was it predictable? Did the book end the way you expected? Was it satisfying? If not, how would you change it?
  5. Describe the book’s structure. Does the story move forward chronologically, or does it jump around in time? Are the dream sequences helpful to the plot, or not? Where did the book make connections between modern Occoquan and ancient Sepphoris?
  6. What main ideas does Henry Brinton explore, and how does the title City of Peace connect to these ideas? How are religious images and spiritual understandings used in the book? What roles do wind and water play, and how do they function as symbols? How was the “black Jesus” in the stained glass of Riverside Methodist Church significant? What did you learn about Christian hospitality, Roman honor, and interfaith relations? How did you find yourself challenged, politically or spiritually?
  7. Which passage moved you or struck you as profound, if any? Where did you find a section of dialogue that was amusing or touching? Was there a section that captured the book’s main idea in a particularly effective way?
  8. What did you already know about the book’s subject before you read City of Peace? Did the story reflect what you already knew, or did it broaden your perspective? What did the book teach you about people, history, politics, or religion? How did it reflect your experience of life in our polarized political environment today? Do you feel the book enhanced your knowledge and understanding of Muslim immigrants? If so, how?
  9. What, if anything, set this book apart from other murder mysteries? How did it compare to others you have read? Would you recommend this book to other readers? Why or why not?
  10. What were you still wondering about at the end of the book? If you could ask Henry Brinton a single question, what would it be?