1. How does Ellie show that she is an exceptional reporter?
2. Describe the relationship between Ellie and her father, her brother, her uncle.
3. How did Ben demonstrate that he was a good father?
4. Why do you think Matt hides information when he’s conducting an investigation?
5. Trust and betrayal are important themes in the story. Why do you think Matt didn’t trust Dan? Why does Ellie’s trust in Dan slowly erode? What does Ellie want when she discovers his betrayal?
6. Why does Ellie feel responsible for her father’s death?
7. Why is Ellie burdened with guilt over Matt’s conviction?
8. How did Laura’s abandonment of the family shape Ellie’s behavior as an adult? Why do you think Ellie is unwilling to forgive her mother?
9. What does Ellie realize about her mother when she understands the truth about her character? How does it change her?
10. Jealousy is a powerful emotion that can lead to hate and motivate crime. What role did jealousy play in influencing Dan’s feelings for his family? How did Dan’s relationship with his father shape his life and his feelings for Ben? Why was Dan constantly striving to excel and acquire more wealth and recognition? Do you think he cared for Ellie, Matt, Ben?
11. Why can’t Ellie commit to a romantic relationship with Nick when she is clearly attracted to him?
12. How does Nick show his loyalty and commitment to Ellie?
13. Why does it take Ellie time to piece together the organ theft scheme and discover those involved? How does she unravel the complicated scheme?
14. How does Ellie show that she’s not afraid to take risks to find the truth?
15. How does Ellie show her resourcefulness when she discovers that an assassin followed her to Grand Cayman?
16. How does Ellie show she is fearless when the assassin tries to stop her from releasing her story?
17. What motivates Dan to keep struggling to survive his injuries?
18. What does Dan’s wife, Joan, reveal about her character when she confronts Dan’s serious injuries?
19. When Dan is severely burned, his survival depends on a lifesaving skin graft, but skin is in short supply. Why does this demonstrate irony?
20. Are outcomes in the story a result of fate or choice? Why does Ellie feel that the choices she made determined the fate of her father and brother?
21. How did the choices Ben made contribute to his death? How did the choices Matt made lead to his arrest and imprisonment?
22. How did the choices Dan made cause his ultimate downfall?
23. How did Ellie’s choice when facing the assassin influence the outcome of the story?
24. How does Dan’s fate illustrate the theme that jealousy, greed and betrayal lead to tragedy?
The Last Victim
1. The pursuit of one’s dream is a crucial theme in this novel, where everyone in the Rothman family has a dream.
– How did Sophie’s dream shape her life?
– What was Harry’s dream? How did he sublimate his dream?
– What obstacles did Jeanie have to overcome to achieve her dream?
– How did Albert’s pursuit of his dream change his life and his relationship with his mother and father?
– What dream did Ruthie have? How did her tragic experience shape the outcome of her dream?
2. What is Sophie’s tragic flaw?
3. Why do you think Sophie’s obsession with money was so twisted?
4. Was Sophie capable of love? Do you think she loved Harry? Lev? Her children? Why was she unable to show affection?
5. How did Sophie’s relationship with her own mother shape her feelings about hoarding money? How did Sophie feel about her own mother’s love for her? How did she come to confuse money with love?
6. How does Sophie’s relationship with her sister, Ida, contribute to a deeper understanding of Sophie’s character?
7. Describe the relationship between Jeanie and her brother and sister. Why did the siblings have such a strong bond with each other?
8. In what ways does Sophie demonstrate business acumen?
9. How do Sophie’s actions precipitate tragic events for:
– her daughter, Ruthie?
– her husband, Harry?
– her daughter, Jeanie?
– David Kramer?
10. What were the consequences of Sophie’s lie and deception? How does she rationalize her affair with Lev? How does she rationalize the tragic events she caused at the end?
11. There are sometimes glimmers of remorse in Sophie.
– How does Sophie demonstrate her protectiveness toward her sister, Ida?
– What is Sophie’s reaction when she looks at Ruthie dressed as a bride?
– How does Sophie react when she realizes who Jeanie is planning to marry?
12. Why did Harry’s feelings for Sophie change?
13. In what way was Harry responsible for the misfortunes that befell his children?
14. Why was Harry so unforgiving toward his son when he left to go to Hollywood?
15. Why did Jeanie refuse to recognize her feelings for Mark? When does she understand that she’s in love with him?
16. There are many ironies in this novel. When Jeanie returns home from Israel to tell her family about her plans to marry David and move to Israel, the narrative reads: “Nothing her [Jeanie’s] mother could do would hurt her again. She had everything she wanted now.” Why is this dramatic irony?
17. Who is the last victim? What does the title of the novel mean?
18. When Jeanie confronts Sophie at the end of the story, what does Jeanie finally realize about her mother? How does Jeanie react when she understands the truth about Sophie’s character?
19. At the end of the story, Sophie tells Jeanie, “… the money is all for you. Someday it will be yours and Ruthie’s and Albert’s.” What does this statement reveal about Sophie?
20. How does the theme of this novel parallel the Greek tragedy, Oedipus The King?