A Detecting Book Group by Maggie King
Hazel Rose is back in a new adventure, Murder at the Moonshine Inn. After that harrowing confrontation with the killer in Murder at the Book Group, she vowed to leave investigating to the pros.
And for eight years she kept her word. Easy because people didn’t clamor for the services of amateur detectives—except in the pages of cozy mysteries.
So when Hazel is asked to find out who killed Roxanne Howard in the parking lot of the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s most notorious redneck bar, Hazel says, “No. Absolutely not. I’m a romance writer, not a detective.”
There was a sticking point: Brad Jones, the victim’s husband, is the prime suspect. He’s also Hazel’s cousin, and Hazel believes in doing anything to help family. Never mind that Brad won’t give her the time of day—he’s still family.
But the Richmond, Virginia Police Department were capable of finding the killer. Okay, the investigation was stalled, but Hazel figures they’ll get the killer eventually, and she refuses to feel bad about standing by her “no.” In fact, she’s quite smug as she pats herself on the back (saying “no” has long been an elusive skill for her).
Not so fast,” say the Murder on Tour book group. They’re quite keen on the idea of investigating. As much as they love reading mysteries, and talking about mysteries, the prospect of solving one fires them up.
In Murder at the Book Group, the book group members were all suspects. Hazel could trust very few of them and she had to be cagey and subtle in hunting down the killer. She had no idea what she was doing and had to “wing it” a lot—and Hazel isn’t a “winging it” sort of person.
But eight years later, the book group is congenial, trustworthy, and eager to find Roxanne Howard’s killer. The women are well-connected in the community—Trudy and Eileen are librarians, Hazel’s cousin Lucy is a successful business professional, and Sarah an active volunteer. Between them they manage to know or have a lead in to every suspect, witness, and information source they need to question. They are all personable (at least when they need to be) and know how to work their contacts.
With this group to support her, how could Hazel refuse? They agree to either travel in pairs or conduct the investigation in public places. But Hazel runs the show. And she’s probably the best-connected of all of them. She’s now a successful romance author and people love to talk to her. The book group members play their parts well. They research, pump people for information, unearth interesting documents, and move the plot along at a brisk pace. When Hazel gets booted out of a funeral where she’d hoped to narrow down the search for the killer(s), the book group takes up the slack.
A supporting cast helps as well. Kat Berenger (remember her from Murder at the Book Group?) has her own contacts. And Hazel’s husband Vince, a retired homicide detective, accompanies her to the Moonshine Inn, where they play very convincing rednecks. He also funnels information from the official investigators at the Richmond Police Department.
In her heart, Hazel knew all along that she’d cave and say “yes.”
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