Welcome to the Reading Group Guide for Inmate 1577. If you haven’t read it, save this until you have. There’s spoiler info below. Below are questions designed to provide a stimulating discussion.


1- Having read about Alcatraz, including some of its history, do you feel like it’s a place you’d like to visit? If you’ve already been there, what do you remember thinking of it at the time that you were there?

2- Do you believe that Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers made it to safety after their escape? Why or why not?

3- Do you think it’s better for journalists to have complete access to crime scenes, so they can report the information to the public—the way it was through the 1980s—or is it better the way it is now, which provides reporters very limited access?

4- Did you like the historical fiction plotline of Inmate 1577 involving Walt MacNally?

5- Did you enjoy one storyline more than the other—the past vs. the present?

6- The US prison system has been a topic of much debate over the years. Did MacNally’s experiences at Leavenworth and Alcatraz (which accurately track what an inmate faces in prison) change your perception of what it’s like behind bars?

7- Do you feel that a violent criminal can ever be successfully returned to society—that is, where he/she won’t commit more crimes?

8- What was your favorite part of Inmate 1577?

9- For those who’ve read the entire Karen Vail series (thus far), which is your favorite male detective: Bledsoe, Burden, or Friedberg? (Robby is purposely not included because that may make the question too easy!)

10- Did you relate to, and empathize with, Walt MacNally’s predicament?

11- Alan’s first novel, False Accusations, explored, in depth, the concept of being falsely accused of a crime and being unable to prove your innocence. He came back to this scenario (in a much smaller way) relative to Walt MacNally’s life. Do you know anyone who has been falsely accused of a crime (or transgression) and been unable to prove that he/she was innocent?

12- When they first realized that Inspector Friedberg had been taken by the killer, did you think that he would be found dead, or alive?

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