This is one of those innocuous suspense yarns that isn’t too violent and relies on the interactions of a cast of characters (mostly female) who seem to have a number of personal issues that touch upon the unmasking of the villain in one way or another.
As the title suggests, a book club meeting goes awry when one of the ladies apparently commits suicide during the evening. The novel’s protagonist, Hazel Rose, doesn’t accept the fact that drinking cyanide-spiked tea was a willful act, although a note left behind suggests it was.
The victim was also married to Hazel’s former husband so there’s that link to the dead woman too, plus our middle aged amateur sleuth is also keeping company with a former cop. Enlisting the other members of the book group, Hazel launches her own informal investigation that moves ahead erratically with plenty of pauses for developing the secondary characters’ connections to the dead woman.
Maggie King plays coy with the suggestion that some of these ladies are still pretty sexually active, although there’s no graphic proof of this, and there are some truly humorous moments along the way too.
You’ll need patience to stay with this mildly entertaining novel that has a few too many “coincidences” for my taste. It also features perhaps the longest denouement I have encountered in a mystery. I like the idea of leaving no loose ends, but King takes this approach a bit too far.
If you are a cozy fan, this novel will probably work for you, but if you want fast paced action and less character development, you’ll probably want to avoid this book group!
For fans of Anne Canadeo comes a fun and sassy cozy mystery in which one woman must solve the murder of a book group member and untangle a web of secrets hidden by her bookish cohorts.
Hazel Rose never dreamed that the murder mystery book group she and her friend Carlene started would stage a real murder.
Nevertheless, the normally composed Carlene is unusually angry and rattled one night during a book group discussion and dies after drinking cyanide-spiked tea. Despite a suicide note, Hazel is skeptical; Carlene never seemed suicidal—she was busy making plans for her future. Incidentally, Carlene was married to Hazel’s ex-husband, and Hazel has always suspected there might be something more to her past than she let on.
How much does anyone really know about Carlene Arness? And did she die by her own hand or someone else’s? Hazel begins a search for the truth that produces no shortage of motives, as she unearths the past that Carlene took great pains to hide. And most of those motives belong to the members of her very own book group…
Featuring memorable characters and a wicked sense of humor, Murder at the Book Group shows the darker side of a book club where reading isn’t about pleasure—it’s about payback.