Sunny Side Up Book Club Discussion Questions

Sunny Side Up Front Cover

Discussion questions for Sunny Side Up:

  1. A major overarching theme in the book is the idea of escaping from your past and your pain. Li tries. Charlegne tries. Rosemary tries. Do you feel any of them are successful? What sort of methods do they employ to escape from their grief?

2. Similarities were drawn between Sunny Side Up and the books of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction by authors such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh. In what ways are they similar? In what ways to they differ?

3. The history of Li and his father has hurt him severely over the years. What ways can you suggest to help him cope with his grief?

4. Sunstroke as a murder weapon is highly unconventional. Are you in favor of more conventional causes of death in murder mysteries, or do you like more unusual crimes?

5. The book changes perspective between characters to allow other characters a chance to share their thoughts, prejudices, fears, dreams, etc. with the reader. What characters from the book would you love to get to know better? Whose story did you feel was the most complete? Which perspective was the one you favored most?

6. I like to give my victims what I call “breathing room.” That is, I like to let them have a chance to be alive in the story for a bit to give the reader impressions of their character before they die. This can serve as amazing sleuthing opportunities for mystery fans. Did you like having a chance to meet Charlegne before her death? What did you think of her when you first met her in the book? Did your opinion of her change as you learned more of her story? Did you enjoy the chance to get to know the victim before they died?

7. Were you able to solve the mystery at the end? Who got the closest?

Happy reading and happy sleuthing!

–Daniel Stallings

Buy Sunny Side Up

Sunny Side Up, the first book in the Li Johnson Mysteries, is on sale now wherever books are sold.

For twenty-year-old Li Johnson, a job as a cruise ship waiter was supposed to be a way to get over his father’s death and earn enough money to go back to college. Instead, Li is struggling to maintain his sanity while coping with the demands of a sadistic maitre d’ and a boatload of entitled rich jerk passengers. Li just wants to keep his head down and survive his job from hell, but when he finds a passenger sunburned to a crisp on the Sunbathing Deck, something about the scene just doesn’t add up. Before he knows it, Li is on the track of a murderer and if Li doesn’t find the real killer soon, he might just get framed for the crime — or worse, lose his crappy job.

A brand-new classic in the amateur detective genre, Sunny Side Up is a traditional murder mystery for the 21st century, with a glamorous setting, a gallery of suspects, clues that will keep readers guessing to the last page, and a delightful new hero in Li Johnson, the millennial minimum wage manhunter, who brings sleuthing to the service economy.

Cover art by Dominic Grijalva


“An Agatha Christie cast of characters seen with a modern eye, and with startling moments of both insight and compassion.” –Anne Perry, International Bestselling Author

“Daniel Stallings’ debut mystery offers an appealing protagonist and a fresh viewpoint. Root for the underdog!” –Carolyn Hart, Multi-Award Winning Mystery Author

“A deftly crafted novel by a master of the genre, Sunny Side Up is unreservedly recommended.” –Midwest Book Review

“Very entertaining … this brought in a new kind of detective ― a millennial with a minimum wage job. I would like to see where Li Johnson goes after this one – it would be fun to go along on another investigation with him!” –JessicaMap Reviews