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 Mysteries. 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.
The Murder on Tour book group is the travel-themed group featured in Murder at the Book Group, my debut mystery. The members each read a different mystery based on a geographical setting, and gather to “booktalk” their selections—a fancy way of saying they give oral book reports, reminiscent of grade school.
In chapter one the group gathers to “travel” the state of Florida. Soon-to-be victim Carlene Arness is pitching a fit about the poor writing that pervades Murder in the Keys by an Annette with a last name containing a string of consonants. Out of respect for my fellow authors, I made up this title and kept the author name vague. I hope and pray that an Annette with a consonant-laden last name doesn’t up and publish such a title.
The other selections are shared without drama or author maligning. Among them are The Paperboy by Pete Dexter, the dark story of a Florida newspaper family during the late sixties; Raymond Chandler’s classic Key Largo; and A Deep Blue Good-By, the first in John MacDonald’s color-coded series.
By the evening’s end, the very survival of Murder on Tour hangs in the balance.
My editor suggested that I end Murder at the Book Group with Book Group Picks, similar to staff picks in a bookstore. The following is an excerpt:
IN HAPPIER DAYS, THE Murder on Tour book group enjoyed a holiday tea at the Jefferson Hotel in historic Richmond and compiled a list of our favorite mystery titles. The results pretty much match up with the member.
Annabel favors J. A. Jance, whose hard-hitting police procedurals are so like the ones she herself pens; Art is in heaven with Civil War–era tales, and Chickahominy Fever’s setting is our own
Richmond, Virginia; Carlene is the original Christie-phile and devours everything turned out by the renowned “Queen of Crime.” I’ve never been to the Lone Star State where Susan Wittig Albert places the China Bayles herbal mysteries, but I enjoyed the authentic Texas barbecue that Kat, sporting a leopard cowgirl hat and boots, hosted. Annabel accessorized her power suit with stunning silver boots.
Detectives with a religious worldview appealed to Helen, so she selected a Father Dowling tale. Kat enjoyed seeing a good-looking man on the cover of her book and Robert Crais is, in her words, a handsome devil. Katherine Hall Page provides readers with recipes in her culinary-themed New England series featuring caterer Faith Fairchild. When we toured the region, Lucy treated us to the same muffins and cookies that Faith bakes. Sarah finds John Dunning’s Denver-based tales combining book lore and suspense riveting, and erudite British tales such as the ones by the late Sarah Caudwell draw Trudy like a magnet.
Annabel: Birds of Prey, J. A. Jance
Art: Chickahominy Fever, Ann McMillan
Carlene: The Mirror Crack’d, Agatha Christie
Hazel: A Dilly of Death, Susan Wittig Albert
Helen: Triple Pursuit, Ralph M. McInerny
Kat: L.A. Requiem, Robert Crais
Lucy: The Body in the Moonlight, Katherine Hall Page
Sarah: The Sign of the Book, John Dunning
Trudy: The Sirens Sang of Murder, Sarah Caudwell