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.
This reading group guide forMurder at the Book Groupincludes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Hazel Rose never dreamed that the murder mystery book group she cofounded with Carlene Arness would play host to a real murder. In Murder at the Book Group, Carlene is found dead in her own home, supposedly from a suicide induced by cyanide-spiked tea. Hazel is suspicious and decides to investigate this potential murder—where everyone in her book group is suddenly a suspect. As she dives deeper, she finds out the old adage is true: Everyone’s got a secret.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. At the beginning of the story, how would you describe Hazel?
2. Which character in the book group do you most relate to?
3. Who were you rooting for romantically in the story—Hazel and Vince, or Hazel and her ex-husband Evan?
4. Carlene has an extremely turbulent past, which Hazel unveils throughout the course of the book. Do you know anyone like this?
5. Describe Hazel’s friendship with Kat, and her friendship with Lucy. How does Hazel get along with people who are very different from her?
6. What quotes or passages in particular stood out to you? What made you think? What made you laugh?
7. Kat and Annabel have distinctive ways of dressing. How do their stand-out styles shape their characters? Do you have a particular style that people associate with you?
8. That unholy trinity of conversation topics—politics, religion, and sex—are woven throughout the story. How do attitudes toward these controversial and potentially divisive subjects define the characters?
9. In a movie version, who would play what roles?
10. How is Murder at the Book Group different from or similar to other mysteries you have read?
11. Were you surprised by the identity of the killer at the end of the mystery? What clues were there along the way that pointed to that character?
12. How do you usually choose your book group picks? Is there a theme to your picks like in Hazel’s book group?
13. What do you think will happen next to the characters in this story?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Many hotels and restaurants offer high tea. Enjoy sweet and savory favorites like warm scones, cakes, finger sandwiches, and a variety of unique and elegant teas. High teas lend themselves to a British theme (think Agatha Christie). Suggest period costume for extra fun. You can also plan your own tea at home. Check http://coffeetea.about.com/od/historyculture/a/Tea-Party-Menus.htm for planning ideas and recipes.
2. Try a themed book group like the Murder on Tour one in Murder at the Book Group, where everyone reads a book according to a pre-determined theme. Some possibilities for themes could be books about traveling, sailing, art or with a holiday subject.
3. Watch a movie with the group that is based on one of the books you’ve read.
4. Many communities offer entertaining evenings of mystery dinner theater, often with professional actors. If there isn’t a dinner theatre in your area, create your own and invite family and friends.
Maggie King grew up in North Plainfield, New Jersey, graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology, and worked as a software developer in Los Angeles for many years. She is a founding member of the Sisters in Crime Central Virginia Chapter. Her short story “A Not So Genteel Murder” was published in the Virginia Is for Mysteries anthology. Maggie lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, Glen, and two cats. Visit her at MaggieKing.com.
"[An] entertaining debut...Readers will find more substance here than in most cozies."
– Publishers Weekly
“This promising series debut – edgier and sexier than most cozies – should intrigue anyone who enjoys biblio crime.”
"The characters in this story are fascinating, and for the humor that the author delivers, there is definitely a dark side to go with it."
– Suspense Magazine
"[King's] amateur sleuth's pseudo-investigative skills and her interactions with a cast of well-drawn, small-town characters reveal a deception that ultimately coalesces into a study of human nature and the limits of perception...Maggie King entertainingly darkens the common perception of book clubs in her quirky debut."