Tag Archives: Maggie King

A Day in the Life of Hazel Rose by Maggie King

murder-at-the-moonshine-innI look in the mirror and laugh. Is that really my hair or did a cloud of chestnut-colored cotton candy land on my head? I may have gone overboard with the big hair look—but, as long as I fit in at the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premiere redneck bar, that’s the main thing.

I streak frosted blue shadow across my eyelids. The shade did nothing for my green eyes, but Eileen Thompson had insisted that blue was more redneck. She was quite firm on the point. The scarlet polish on my nails sparkle like Christmas lights.

When I emerge from the bathroom, Vince’s appreciative whistle says he likes the redneck me.

“It’s just for tonight,” I say. “This is way too much work.”

The day before I had made a thrift store run and created my outfit: a Harley Davidson two-sizes-too-small tank top that revealed an impressive display of Victoria’s Secret-created cleavage; jeans that I’d slashed in strategic places molded my bottom half; Eileen’s contribution of hand-tooled cowgirl boots completed the costume.

I assure my husband that he looks pretty hot himself in his snug jeans, Confederate T-shirt, and baseball cap.

My name is Hazel Rose and I write baby boomer romances. My husband Vince writes true crime accounts. We’re not rednecks and we’re not celebrating Halloween in June. So why our curious wardrobe choices?

It all started when Roxanne Howard, a high-powered executive, was found in a pool of blood outside of the Moonshine Inn. Brad Jones, Rox’s husband and my cousin, is the chief suspect. But the police can’t find any proof to arrest him and Rox’s sister is convinced that he didn’t kill his wife because he’s “such a nice man.”

The sister remembers that I found another woman’s killer years before and pleads with me to find Rox’s. I’m not so convinced of Brad’s innocence. And, since he won’t deign to speak to me, I’d hardly call him a nice man. But he’s family, and I believe you should do anything to help your family—even if it means going undercover at the disreputable Moonshine Inn where Vince and I planned to (carefully) pump the denizens for any information that could lead to Rox’s murderer.

My cousin Lucy suggested that I might get writing ideas at the Moonshine Inn. Redneck baby boomers having hot and steamy sex? Hmm.

At the bar, Vince parks by the chain link fence and dumpster where Rox’s body was found. Despite the heat, I shiver.

I suggest that we review some grammar that I learned from a website devoted to redneck dialog. Vince dismisses my preparation attempts, saying it will all come naturally. “Just leave the gs off words that end in ing.”

“Yes, but there’s more. Time is tahm, fine is fahn, and for is fer.”

“Fahn. The men will all be looking at your lovely assets and won’t notice if you talk like a Harvard professor. Come on, let’s go in and get this farce over with.”

I give my husband—rather, my old man in redneck parlance—a look and get out of the car.

“By the way, tonight your name is Ricky and mine is Shelby.” At Vince’s questioning look, I explain, “I got them from a database of redneck baby names.”

“Whatever you say, dear.”

We walk into the Moonshine Inn.


Murder at the Moonshine Inn is the second book in the Hazel Rose Book Group mystery series, published by Koehler Books, November 2016.

When high-powered executive Roxanne Howard dies in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premier redneck bar, the victim’s sister enlists Hazel Rose to ferret out the killer. At first Hazel balks–she’s a romance writer, not a detective. But Brad Jones, Rox’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.

Hazel recruits her book group members to help with the investigation. It’s not long before they discover any number of people who feel that a world without Rox Howard is just fine with them: Brad’s son believes that Rox and Brad were behind his mother’s death; Rox’s former young lover holds Rox responsible for a tragedy in his family; and one of Rox’s employees filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her. The killer could be an angry regular from the Moonshine Inn–or just about anyone who ever crossed paths with the willful and manipulative Rox.

When a second murder ups the ante Hazel must find out who is behind the killings. And fast. Or she may be victim #3.

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About the author
Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries, including the recently-released Murder at the Moonshine Inn. She contributed the stories “A Not So Genteel Murder” and “Reunion at Shockoe Slip” to the Virginia is for Mysteries anthologies.

Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive. She enjoys reading, walking, movies, traveling, theatre, and museums.

Connect with Maggie maggieking.com, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Murder at the Book Group. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends November 24, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life of Hazel Rose by Maggie King

Murder at the Book GroupHere’s my advice to romance writers everywhere: don’t try to investigate a murder if you have a sex scene to write. There’s nothing like murder for de-sizzling your hot passages. Trust me, I know.

My name is Hazel Rose and I’m a romance writer. Not an amateur detective. But since last week at book group when we found Carlene Arness dead from a sip of cyanide-laced tea I’d gone from turning out scintillating sex scenes to fancying myself a 21st century Miss Marple.

Why don’t I just accept the fact that Carlene committed suicide? Everyone else has, including the police. After all, she left a note stating that she “couldn’t take it anymore.” I haven’t a clue what “it” was. I didn’t even much like the woman who, incidentally, was married to my first ex-husband. Still, I can’t believe that she killed herself.

What drove this need I had to play amateur detective, emphasis on amateur, like the ones populating the pages of the murder mysteries our book group devours? Writer’s procrastination, perhaps? We’re famous for finding ways to avoid practicing our craft—compulsively checking e-mail and social media, cleaning toilets, making pasta sauce, doing laundry, the list goes on. Or did my burning quest owe to my lifelong sense of justice, my need to right wrongs? Could I be looking to re-purpose my life, get out of my rut?

It was a nice rut, as ruts go. I have no money worries, thanks to my fourth husband who wrapped himself around a tree during a ski weekend with his mistress. I live in Richmond, Virginia with my cousin Lucy, also a widow, and our two feline companions. I have an on-again, off-again relationship with Vince Castelli, a retired homicide detective. After four failed marriages I’m gun shy about a fifth trip to the altar. And so I busy myself with volunteer work and penning this danged romance that’s not terribly romantic.

I’ve spent the past week having cagey conversations with book group members. I had visions of tricking one of them into giving me information that could ID the killer. Wouldn’t you think that one of them would have seen the killer sprinkling cyanide into Carlene’s tea? If so, no one let on. Probably wise on their part, but not helpful to me. But I did find out a whole lot about Carlene that I hadn’t known—the woman was really something. Here I thought she was boring as all get out and instead she was a character straight out of one of Jackie Collins’s steamiest bestsellers.

I’ll tell you something about detecting: it’s much harder than it looks. It’s dangerous. I’m not gifted with courage. And I’m finding that I’m not as smart as I thought I was.

A case in point: I promised Lucy and Vince that I wouldn’t be alone with any suspects, especially anyone from the book group. I’d broken that promise twice the day before. The first time was when, armed only with a cell phone, I walked into the locker room of my gym and had a showdown with a new-to-the-book-group woman and one of my top suspects. She was also naked. Believe me, I didn’t let my eyes stray from hers during our encounter, during which not a single woman entered or exited the locker room. I could just see the headlines: “Richmond Romance Author”—okay, aspiring author—“Killed in Smelly Locker Room by Naked Woman.” Fortunately I emerged unscathed and in possession of more interesting tidbits of information about Carlene. Then I had it out with Ms. Naked’s ne’er-do-well ex-husband. At least he was dressed and plenty of people were in screaming distance.

Not smart.

So today I sit and stare at my computer. How do I ratchet up the heat on a sex scene that’s gone on autopilot? Maybe I’ll let my characters take a long nap while I hunt down Carlene’s killer. It doesn’t help that I can’t dispel the images of naked women in locker rooms and Carlene’s dead body.

No question about it—playing Miss Marple is the only hope I have for my fledgling writing career.

I jump when the doorbell rings, taking me out of my reverie.

I look out the window.

Oh, no. A book group person. And I’m home alone.

Should I grab a kitchen knife? How about a gun? Oh, right, I don’t have a gun. What a time to be pro-gun control.

I say a prayer. I take a deep breath. I channel Miss Marple.

I open the door.

You can read more about Hazel in Murder at the Book Group, the first book in the new “Book Group” mystery series, published by Simon & Schuster.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on January 6 for the chance to win a copy of MURDER AT THE BOOK GROUP. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Maggie King’s debut mystery, Murder at the Book Group, comes out December 30, 2014 from Simon and Schuster. She contributed the short story, “A Not So Genteel Murder,” to the Sisters in Crime anthology Virginia is for MaggieKingMysteries. Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor.

Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive.

Visit Maggie on her website, on Twitter or on Facebook